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How to deal with internal team "level" jealousy?

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Mid-Level Software Engineer at Taro Communitya month ago

In a previous team and organisation I had 3 different reports.

Lvl 5, lvl 4 & a lvl 2

I was the only remote member of the team, so at times it was difficult to fully understand the social and team dynamics within their office. I initially was unaware of any jealousy within the team until I was asked to fly out for a week for an unrelated reason. When on the ground, it become very clear to me there was a strong level of tension between some of the employees.

  • The lvl 5 was jealous of 2 of their friends who were now lvl 6 because they joined the organisation at the same time.
  • The lvl 4 was a strong performer who was happy with their current position.
  • However the lvl 2 who was an apprentice, was an outstanding performer (approx lvl 6) and it was close to witnessing a savant, especially at their age (18).

However there was no possible way for them to go up any higher as their role was tied to the completion of a certain stint of education.

This, alongside that the lvl 5 had aspirations of becoming a lvl 6 but was severely under performing which was especially noticeable by the lvl 2 - made things very awkward and difficult to navigate.

The outcome of this in the end was that I would support the lvl 2 in finding another role in a different organisation and with the lvl 5, we had a long discussion alongside my director to work out a plan of how they can start adding more value and improving their position within the team.

How could I have gone about this differently to create a more positive environment for the team?

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    Tech Lead @ Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero
    a month ago

    Overall, I think you did well! As an engineering manager, you don't have a ton of control over the broader engineering constraints within your organization. This means that you have to work with the fairly limited hand you're dealt. For example, it's very unlikely that you would have been able to convince execs to remove the education requirements so someone like the lvl 2 could thrive.

    While it's true that actions speak louder than words (and action in this case would be promoting everyone to the level they want), words still matter a lot. There's a lot of value going to someone and saying "I will fight for you". If I were in your shoes, I would have transparently outlined the rules that were holding them back but reassured them that I would do everything in my power to get them where they wanted to be (assuming they were solid performers with good-intent).

    Here's some other good resources around effective mentorship/taking care of people: [Taro Top 10] Effective Mentorship And Growing Others