Performance ultimatum from my manager to my direct
I went on vacation for 2 weeks and actually ended up in an accident so I wasn't able to check on my BlackBerry and notebook and be the workaholic manager I usually am.
There was at least one crisis and a direct who earned the wrath of my manager including poor service to our business partners, inaccurate reports, inability to control a crisis and when my manager asked for periodic updates on the crisis, she skipped out on work and/or did not give a timely updates. This is not the first time she has caught the spotlight of my manager.
My manager has told me on my first day back that I have 20 days to prove that this direct is worth keeping. If not, she posits I should terminate her at the end of the year. 20 days, by the way, is when my manager will finalize her 2010 planning to her boss including staffing budget.
This direct, we'll call her Jennifer, is in severe need of coaching. We work in IT. I inherited this direct. I've rotated her between business analysis, testing and now development. She hasn't done well in the first two. Her documentation skills are poor and her testing was not rigorous and partly caused the crisis. The bad service is part of her personality and I've given her corrective (but not systemic) feedback about it at least once a month. Jennifer has cried at least once from corrective feedback in an O3. The other team members are starting to give up working with her. She is a very typical I and tends to leave things to the very end or at least say everything is on track and then at the last moment have something fail.
The good thing is Jennifer has a positive attitude about change. She recognizes her shortcomings but she is getting very defensive about her work these days. My manager thinks I would "have to be superman" to enable her to become more effective.
My main question is what the hell should I do? My manager has asked me to convince her in the next 20 days that my direct is worth keeping. There's obviously no amount of coaching that can be done in 3 weeks to help with that.