Resolving severe personality conflicts
16 April, 2018
At almost every organization, "personality conflicts" can be inevitable. These conflicts can sometimes be so severe that it literally results in more bureaucracy as people implement new processes just to avoid or add additional "checklist steps" for an untrusted individual. These relationships often get covered up with people "being professional" while their resentments continue to build, often eventually resulting in an explosion.
Through years of personal therapy and some applied psychology training, I've grown familiar with a set of techniques, often used in relationship counseling, that are very effective in helping address head-on conflicts between two individuals. I used these techniques to facilitate 1-on-1s (with me as a third party helping) in which each individual, even if not in the engineering organization, can speak openly and be heard. The technique is quite simple: the first person shares what's been going on for them, focusing not on what happened, but on how they felt. The other person then describes what they heard in their own words until the first person acknowledges that they feel heard. Then the roles are reversed. This is repeated until both people feel that they have heard each other. While no process is full-proof, I've found several relationships transformed by two willing participants coming together to practice this technique. This is why some people at my company like to call me "Chief Therapy Officer" (or Deanna Troi :) ).
Whether we like it or not, by shutting off our emotions and "being professional", our resentments do not go away. Organizations can survive with these dysfunctions (many large organizations have these political challenges in spades), but those organization that can have employees listening to each other with empathy until they are truly heard are much more likely to function without excessive levels of bureaucracy getting created to work around these relationship dysfunctions.
Alessandro Pintaudi, Product Management Director at Payfit, comes up with an exciting proposal of transforming software developers into product engineers by establishing cross-functional context analysis and shared objectives.
Product Management Director at PayFit
With both the need for a more supportive team setting and shorter feedback cycles, Marc LeBrun, VP Engineering at Flow Kana, addresses two problems with a single solution.
VP Engineering at Flow Kana
Maria Petrova, Principal Product Manager at Zalando details how she strategically mapped out features using a KPI tree to drive measurement, ultimately helping the development team understand their role.
Principal Product Manager at Zalando
Tarani Vishwanatha, Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd, shared a story where he dealt with the conflict of an upset engineer that did not get a promotion he believed he was entitled to. He explains the distinction between being the most technical and being well rounded. Vishwanatha talks about the importance of being self-aware as it's essential to career growth.
Senior Engineering Manager at Scribd
Paulo André, VP of Engineering at TourRadar, emphasizes all the benefits of enhancing partnership between Product and Engineering and explains how to achieve it.
VP Engineering at TourRadar
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.