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Dealing with a “Hero” Situation

Conflict Solving
Collaboration
Feedback
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Toxic Employee
Toxic Atmospheres
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

10 September, 2018

Lalit Kapoor
Lalit Kapoor

VP of Engineering at Relay Payments

Lalit Kapoor shares how he handled a difficult Senior Engineer who wanted to tackle a massive problem his way, wouldn’t listen to feedback on his work and didn’t want to collaborate with other team members.

Problem

The team was tasked to investigate and fix the performance issue on our website. A critical functionality was affected and this impacted the most actively used part of the website. The Senior Engineer proposed a solution which revealed to be a massive spider web, required introduction of new patterns and was difficult to review. The team suggested to break it up into into smaller, more workable segments to review, but the Senior Engineer wouldn't accept feedback and insisted to just have a one-off review of the whole program with the team. All in all, a very opaque situation for everyone.

Actions taken

As this person's manager, I stepped in. First, we spent three hours to go through his work and I took note of where the code could be split up. Then I showed him that his output could actually be broken up. I realized he only needed to be shown that it could be done and how it should to be done. Second, I discussed with him the importance of collaborating with other people, especially when you're trying to solve such a big issue: he realized he needed to improve his communication and decided to apologies to his teammates. Lastly, I included this matter in his quarterly review and we discussed the negative impact -delay and missed goal- of his actions and the important lessons learned.

Lessons learned

There are two key lessons in this scenario. First:when you have a big project, make sure you are communicating, collaborating and sharing more effectively and more frequently with your team. Teamwork and trust are very important in working relationships. Second, as a lead or manager, you have to understand what motivates a person, or a team and make sure you set them up for success by showing them what and how success looks like.

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