Skip to main content

There are Only Two Ways to Treat Your Team

There are only two ways to treat your team: take care of them or let them go.  Early in my management career there have been times when someone has been underperforming on the team.  Before I knew better I let my emotions get the best of me: I’d give them the cold shoulder, avoid including them in conversations and look like I was upset with them. Thankfully with some good mentorship I came up with a simple rule: we are helping each other or you are off the team.

One of the biggest mistakes that folks make a lot of times is letting people linger on for too long.  Hiring good engineers is hard and getting new folks up to speed is hard.  You feel like you are going to miss your product delivery plan if you let someone go.

Letting folks linger when you are unhappy with each other creates a toxic environment.  This toxic environment is generally contagious and brings the entire organization down.  Of course you can’t have a constant state of euphoria on your team, but if a productive and pleasant environment is not there the team is in trouble.

Constant visible underperformance on the team is going to lower the bar.  This lower bar is going to make it hard for you to manage performance.  Having a “C” player on the team is going to make it hard to get the “B” performance up.  It basically sends a signal of tolerance towards mediocre performance and it will be hard to get out of that tail spin.

Last point is that some top performance are very much in tune with toxic environment and bad performers.  They might feel like they are shouldering a bigger load than they should.  They might also feel like they are on a losing team and should entertain some opportunities to join a winning team elsewhere.

it’s especially hard to deal with this type of the situation when underperforms are not combative - they are looking to improve and they try, but they just can’t get the job done.  It takes precise expectation management and frank conversations to tell people what’s expected out of them.

I’ve provided generous compensation packages to let people go if they weren’t working out.  At the time I am writing this (beginning of 2017) Software Engineers have not had a big problem finding other jobs.  Almost always when the engagement or performance wasn’t there - letting people go was the right thing for both parties.  The right question to ask before you arrive at that decision is: “are we helping each other or do you want to get out.”
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Lessons from my 9 Year Journey with DocuSign

After over 9 years at DocuSign I am taking on a new challenge.  It’s been phenomenal seeing the
company grow from from 25 to 2000 employees.  DocuSign has changed the way the people do business and I am proud of it.  The next chapter is going to be heading up software development at Tempo Automation - a 25 person startup that is changing the way people produce electronics.  While I am extremely excited about the future, this is a good time to reflect on my journey and share the things that contributed to the success and things that I will do differently next time around.
1: Focus on the Customer One of the key things that contributed to the success of DocuSign and my personal career is relentless focus on the customer success.  From the very beginning our CTO has taken meetings, listened and prioritized requests and feedback coming from customers.  People who could not be bothered by customer requests didn’t last long.  As a result over time our engineering team retained and reward…

Highly Effective Software Teams

A few weeks ago our Board of Directors asked me to present my assessment of the state of software.
 I was hired to organize and grow the software team and the directors wanted to know what kind of a team we needed to build.  I was hoping that I can just reference an article somewhere that would give me the answer, unfortunately I didn’t find anything suitable. During my research I did find some great material that will be helpful if your job is to put together a highly effective software team.
A highly effective software team has the following key characteristics: dependable, committed to shared goals, passionate about technology, respectful and compassionate.  These are not limited to technology industry, it can easily apply to finance, medicine, or sports as well.  Below is the summary and references that I found. Dependable If you are creating a software product, you need to deliver your software to your users.  Your users need to know that you are able to solve their problems on …

SDET / QA Engineer Interview Checklist

After interviewing and hiring hundreds of engineers over the past 12+  years I have come up with a few checklists.  I wanted to share one of those with you so you could conduct comprehensive interviews of QA Engineers for your team.

I use this checklist when I review incoming resumes and during the interview.  It keeps me from missing areas that ensure a good team and technology fit.  I hope you make good use of them.  If you think there are good questions or topics that I have missed - get in touch with me!


SDE/T or QA Engineer interview checklist from Mike Borozdin
If you like this checklist you might want to check out these posts:
Emotional Intelligence in Software Teams  and Good-bye manual tester, hello crowdsourcing!