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How to handle being on a team with slackers?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

We are 3 people in my team. I've been at the company for 2 years roughly and my team mates for 15+ years. I'm in a situation where my coworkers do stuff, but stuff that's often completely unrelated to our backlog. One of them struggles with being motivated by the job. Occasionally, a 16-hour job takes a month to complete. Maybe 2. And you never know why or when it will be done. This causes a lot of tension with the product lead. The other teammate (focused on the front end) rarely makes any PRs. I'm not sure if it's due to the fact that they have mostly done HTML/CSS and are unsure of how to navigate the frameworks we use or what it is. Our manager tends to cover for us, but obviously he's not loving this situation. It's been like this for 1–2 years. Now it has started affecting my pay raise, and I'm starting to feel tired of always playing dumb or referring to the other great work that they're doing when asked what my teammates are up to. Both seem to be struggling somewhat with stress and anxiety, so I've tried to be compassionate with them. But what do I do? I want to take ownership of the team's performance, but it's difficult to know what to do. They have the senior roles, and they have most of the ownership of the project, so I also feel weird telling them "what to do," if that makes any sense. The company size is roughly 20 engineers, FYI.

Any advice on how to handle this situation nicely, i.e. making sure we're still friends afterward, would be highly appreciated.

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Discussion

(2 comments)
  • 5
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    Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    How senior are you? If you're entry or mid-level, your best bet is simply to switch teams. Given that (1) you're an IC, and (2) the slacking teammates are actually more senior than you, your ability to influence the situation is quite limited.

    Even if you were able to improve the performance of your team, you likely wouldn't get credit for it, since the idea of "making the whole team better" is only starts to be an expectation at the senior or staff level. Obviously it's good to help others for altruism's sake, but you have to weigh the (sometimes conflicting) needs of your career interests, the company's interests, and your coworker's interests.

    The company size is roughly 20 engineers

    This does make things trickier since at a company of this size, you probably need to work with these engineers in some capacity even if you could switch teams

    Assuming you want to stay on the team, I'd lean heavily on your manager. Let them know this topic is something you want to discuss in the next 1:1, and perhaps share some of your concerns in writing ahead of time to underscore the gravity of the situation. In the conversation, I'd offer several potential solutions to show that you want to be part of the solution, but make clear that you do want to see a change. Some ideas

    • Get another (competent) senior engineer on loan for a month to show the team what better productivity looks like.
    • Fold this work-stream into another so you're not unfairly punished by the 2 people you're working most closely with.
    • Figure out a communication structure/cadence which makes it more clear who is responsible for what, and what each person worked on.
  • 1
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    Anonymous User [OP]
    Taro Community
    a year ago

    Hi Rahul. Thanks for the great input. Its my first job. A productive senior engineer did join for 6 months but raged quitted the team because of the poor communication of the other team members. Basically what happened was that they started producing even less since we now had more output from the team. I'll try to apply all your advice. Thank you!