Back to resources

Dealing With Two Different Extremes

Meetings
Collaboration

15 July, 2021

Florian Marin
Florian Marin

Software Engineering Manager at Teads.tv

Florian Marin, Senior Software Engineer at Teads.tv, shares how he made the most out of complex situations and collaborated team members to work for a better outcome.

Problem

It is normal to deal with two different extreme personalities in work and life. How problematic the situation may get is all it is about. I had a team of 7 people, where 2 of them were juniors (literally, they just started). One of them was a technical athlete, but did not have adequate soft skills while unwilling to improve himself from that perspective. The other one was the complete opposite; not so good in terms of technical skills, but a pro with their soft skills. They were appreciated for their soft skill talent company-wide.

Now what happens when these two people are given to work together in the same team? As expected: a conflict. I explained the expectations from them repeatedly, and what aspects they could improve themselves to perform better. After enough back and forth, I realized that the problem was actually the second person. Clearly, they were an underperformer, while the other person was fully dedicated to working hard. Eventually, the tech expert improved his soft skills, too. Later, I also realized that the problem was very much provoked by jealousy.

Actions taken

To begin with, I took responsibility for the objectives of the team. We reviewed the goals and deliverables expected from each team member every week. Everything was going at a mediocre level. From my end, I made all the improvements to help them out, which required a lot of my time, energy and motivation. My goal was to become a manager whom they could trust and rely on. Once I achieved the trust, I patiently discussed their personal and professional affairs openly with them.

When I started working with them as tech lead, I spent a lot of time with the under-performer, leaving the other one with the rest of the team. I decided to include him in the same process, but the skill difference was huge and led to personal conflicts. Moving forward, I separated them into different projects. They were always working in my team, but the difference was on various subjects. They worked closely with other senior developers, who helped them learn how they were expected to work on each task. I had to give negative feedback to the expert and warn him severely on his communication.Hence, I separated both of them. It was better to understand the real problem in that way and improve on each case.

Now it was time to deal with the team as a whole and manage the situation as we were lagging behind in the company. Again, trust was the key to touch every area while making decisions for everyone. Finally, two quarters later, the team performed above and beyond, without having the underperformer in the team. It was time for me to make a final decision regarding this, so I reached out to the HR team for further help.

I improvised the weekly meetings with the team. I took careful notes to see what was going well and what was not, and how I could improve difficult situations. As a result, I advised everyone to become proactive on thoughtful actions. Specifically for the person who had exceptional technical skills, I worked with him on his communication skills. I would give him a day to a week to improve on his actions. I did understand it was difficult for him to change his mindset, but then he did come off with better ideas and at last became a team spirit.

Lessons learned

  • You cannot manage two people simultaneously. It would be best if you adapt yourself to the way you can manage them. Everyone in a team is a gem with different skills, expectations and values. They adjust in distinct ways and learn through various ways to communicate with each other and work towards a common goal. Weekly meetings are a key to team success.
  • Be clear in the expectation and make sure that the expectation is understood. It must be easy to clarify. For example, one of them said she understood, and then a week later, something was not understood and led to impaired delivery. She did not ask, and I had to make sure that it was understood perfectly. Reformulation is essential. I had spent time with them to reformulate.
  • Motivation is another key to success. Each person needs to be driven towards their role, instead of expecting them to work towards the goals themselves. A little push from the manager goes a long way. A sustainable pace is key to a well balanced work life and long term skills improvements.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

Myth Busting

10 December

Supporting principles on why being data led (not driven) helps with the story telling.

Alignment
Managing Expectations
Building A Team
Leadership
Collaboration
Productivity
Feedback
Psychological Safety
Stakeholders
Vikash Chhaganlal

Vikash Chhaganlal

Head of Engineering at Xero

The Growth Mindset in Modern Product Engineering

28 November

The impact you can have with a Growth Mindset' and the factors involved in driving orchestrated change.

Building A Team
Leadership
Collaboration
Feedback
Ownership
Stakeholders
Vikash Chhaganlal

Vikash Chhaganlal

Head of Engineering at Xero

How to improve engagement and retention in remote engineering teams?

25 October

Mrunal Kapade, an Engineering leader, based in Silicon Valley, shares tips that helped reduce attrition in the remote engineering teams while leading multiple teams from startups to Fortune 500 companies.

Remote
Company Culture
Collaboration
Motivation
Team Processes
Mrunal Kapade

Mrunal Kapade

Director of Engineering at Inspire Energy

Scaling a Team in Two Parts: The Product and Manager

2 August

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti, Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart, walks through his experience scaling a team, product and his skills as a leader.

Managing Expectations
Product
Scaling Team
Leadership
Meetings
Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Viswa Mani Kiran Peddinti

Sr Engineering Manager at Instacart

How to Organize, Manage, and Grow Your Team

12 July

Vineet Puranik, Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign, discusses the impact of roadmaps, organization, and proper management for your teams to procure growth.

Managing Expectations
Delegate
Collaboration
Roadmap
Strategy
Vineet Puranik

Vineet Puranik

Senior Engineering Manager at DocuSign