Handling conflicts between two very different engineers

Braeden Kepner

Head of Engineering, Machine Intelligence at Dropbox



"I used to manage a team with very different kinds of engineers: Jim, the tech lead who did not like to get involved in the social aspects of the team dynamics, Max, the hotshot junior engineer, who was very involved with big responsibilities, and Connor, a more senior engineer, who was reliable, but a much slower coder than the rest of the team."

"During a one-on-one, Max told me that he was totally fed up with Connor's behavior and even questioned why I had not taken action on that matter. He would reproach him for being slow. The situation was much worse than I had originally thought."

Actions taken

"I went to Jim (the team lead) to get his feelings about of the situation. He told me Max was overreacting a bit and was not doing his best to make this work either. I then went to Connor to get his side of the story. He was aware of the tense relationship with Max, yet he had thought he was doing a great job at not showing it. When I told him that he wasn't doing as great a job of hiding it as he though, a lightbulb went off in his head, and he started to see how he was frustrating some of the other team members.. Once this was clarified, I got all three of them in a room to talk through the issue and found a solution where they could all work together."

Lessons learned

"You don't want a team full of hot shots, or a team comprised only of older engineers. Clearing the air about the issue helped to make everyone realize that and the relationship improved over the next few weeks. By discussing the issue with everyone individually, I got a holistic view of the situation, which let me find a way for everyone to accept each other's' strengths and weaknesses."

Be notified about next articles from Braeden Kepner

Braeden Kepner

Head of Engineering, Machine Intelligence at Dropbox

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationEngineering ManagementMentorship ProgramsFeedback TechniquesTechnical SkillsCareer GrowthIndividual Contributor RolesTeam & Project ManagementDiversity & Inclusion

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up