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Unhealthy competition between two engineers

Team reaction
Conflict solving
Firing
Deadlines
New Manager
Collaboration
Toxic employee
Toxic atmospheres

6 December, 2017

Pushkar puts in the same room two new hires who disagree about anything, thus creating a tension in the company

Problem

When I took over a new team, I inherited a situation in which two freelance engineers were working on the same part of a code. Both had their tech strengths. One was a senior engineer with a lot of experience and a rather old-school approach, and the other one was very young, had a lot of energy, and was a new school advocate. From day one, they disagreed with one another and this created tension in the team. We offered both of them a full-time job on the same day. However, even after that, the tension kept increasing, and they were having conflicts on every pull request. Their ego conflicts were really making things complicated, but I didn't have the time to hire or fire them because I had to deliver a project rapidly.

Actions taken

As a manager, I tried to solve the problem as soon as possible. I immediately cleared my calendar for the day, and saw each of them one-on-one in order to understand the problem better. I then brought them together in the same room to discuss the problem. It alleviated the issues but there was a lot of bad blood between them. Lessons learned I learned several lessons from this story. First of all, by hiring two people on the same day, the company created part of the problem, as we created competition between them both from day one. Secondly, we didn't define their areas of responsibility early enough or clearly enough. They both had the impression that the other was encroaching on their territory. Finally, we could have done a better job with reminding them that their priority was working for the company and not debating about their personal performance.


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