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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.

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