Back to resources

Overcoming Destructive Workplace Habits and Increasing Communication

Alignment
Conflict Solving
Sharing The Vision
Hiring
Psychological Safety
Toxic Atmospheres
Team Processes

23 December, 2021

Dilip Ramachandran
Dilip Ramachandran

CEO and Chief Product Therapist at Nimi

Dilip Ramachandran, Founder of Nimi, describes a destructive workplace situation where he worked on a team of experienced leaders lacking collaboration and healthy communication.

Having Strongly Opinionated Leaders

At a previous company, I was hired onto a website team with the straightforward task of updating the CMS. This task was a very high-priority project to the CEO, and he didn’t want to leave anything to chance. He hired me with ten years of product management experience, a VP of design with 25 years of experience, an engineering leader with 15 years, and a marketing leader with 15 years of experience.

The executive team thought that by hiring these individuals who were successful within their careers with significant experience, updating the CMS would be straightforward. It turned out that each of these leads was very strongly opinionated, and we had difficulty deciding who should lead the team.

Mitigating Leadership-Drive Destructive Environments

The Power Struggle:

There was an ongoing discussion regarding who should lead and we mired in this debate for over six weeks. Each member had a strong perspective based on their years of experience in their specialty. The debate turned philosophical about the software development lifecycle. Responsibilities circled, and we made minimal progress towards building the site.

Assigning a Leader to a Destructive Environment:

The executive team noticed that our group was not progressing and decided to appoint a leader. This shift in management created a role change as the individual in charge felt as if they won the debate. Since we had spent so many months arguing, our new leader made our day-to-day work life difficult and promoted a destructive environment.

The internal battle within our team completely halted our productivity and brought down our morale. Other teams were shipping core products before we began to progress on our website. The destructiveness was present to the point where teams tried to undermine one another.

Understanding Intent:

At the end of the day, each individual had the same goal, to build the best product possible. Things got misconstrued while deciding on a roadmap and executing on it. The executive team decided that these strong personalities couldn’t come to a solution and the best move was to split up. Each experienced individual was moved to lead their own initiatives. Since there were so many other projects in the company, splitting up ended up being a win-win solution. Each leader had the chance to take ownership and manage a group of individuals in their specialized skill set.

Hiring for Long-Term Legacies

  • When hiring individuals to a team, you can’t solely think about their day-to-day activities but also need to incorporate their legacy into the thought process.
  • Especially when dealing with type A personalities, individuals want something that they can take ownership of and won’t feel underutilized.
  • Understanding intentions is essential when working with others. If our team had taken the time to discuss our end goals, we would have realized that we were all on the same team and may have collaborated more freely.

Discover Plato

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


Related stories

Scaling Engineering @ Trustly

22 January

We doubled the Engineering team from 54 to 109 full-time employees. We expanded our team footprint to include: Brazil, Portugal, and the US. We evolved our road mapping and planning processes from two Product squads to eight Product squads, in alignment with PM areas of ownership.

Scaling Team
Reorganization
Hiring
Ron Pragides

Ron Pragides

VP Engineering at Trustly Group AB

Coaching Women Engineers: Professionally, and for Life

20 January

Yang Wang, Engineering Manager at Bond, shares how she coached several women engineers in her team to boost confidence and help them grow in their careers.

Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Team Processes
Career Path
Yang Wang

Yang Wang

Engineering Manager at Bond

How to Build and Manage the First Product Roadmap for a Startup

19 January

Angel Jamie, Chief Product Officer at Yayzy, shares how he created the first product roadmap at a startup, and a simple process to keep it alive.

Alignment
Product
Meetings
Roadmap
Prioritization
Angel Jaime

Angel Jaime

CPO at yayzy

From Big Tech to Startup: Adding Value From Day 1

19 January

Angel Jamie, Chief Product Officer at Yayzy, recalls his transition from a well-established tech company to a sustainability startup, and the major differences he experienced.

Dev Processes
Company Culture
Impact
Team Processes
Cross-Functional Collaboration
Changing Company
Career Path
Performance
Angel Jaime

Angel Jaime

CPO at yayzy

Should You Stay Up to Date with Technical Skills As a Product Manager?

19 January

Nani Nitinavakorn, the Sr Product Owner at Revolut, describes how she keeps learning hard skills to increase motivation and respect her team.

Alignment
Innovation / Experiment
Different Skillsets
Personal Growth
Ownership
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
New PM
New Manager
Nani Nitinavakorn

Nani Nitinavakorn

Sr Product Owner at Revolut

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.