Whatcha gonna do with a toxic colleague

This post is part of my mentoring conversation series which includes relatively short posts on topics that have come from a mentoring session. Often, these conversations produce insights which could benefit a wider audience.
Any identifying information is removed and I always inform participants before posting anything we talked about.

In today’s mentoring session we discuss what to do about a toxic colleague. That person that makes you feel small and stupid, maybe taking credit for your work and ideas, or “stealing” all the interesting and promotable tasks you were supposed to be doing, maybe just rude and unpleasant in general.

Hopefully you’ll never encounter one of these, but if we’re being realistic – you probably will. Unfortunately, they may exist even in the best of workplace cultures because their behavior is easy to hide. Often, their misconduct will be directed at those lower on the organizational food chain, and therefore the powers that be may be blissfully unaware. If no one tells them – how will they know?

Image by Vlad Vasnetsov from Pixabay
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Silly Baboons, Stubborn Elephants II: Navigating Culture Differences Across R&D groups

In September 2019 I published Silly Baboons, Stubborn Elephants: A Product Engineer’s Guide to Working with Platform Engineers. Since then I’ve expanded my thinking on culture gaps inside engineering organizations and how they affect our ability to collaborate across different groups with different motivations and incentives into a talk, presented at Reversim 2021 conference (right before Omicron hit and everything shut down again for COVID).

The talk is in Hebrew, so I’ve included the slides and my speaker notes (with bonus content I didn’t have time for!) translated into English after the video.

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