The Toxic Team: Divas, Rock-Stars and Hackers

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The purpose of a team is to collaborate in order to achieve a mutual goal, like creating, selling, or managing something. The sense of camaraderie and mutual support is very important for any team, as it builds trust, and results in a positive-sum of every teammate talents.

Sometimes though, a very toxic situation can arise, when one or more members of a team stop acting in a mutual interest, and let their ego take over.

Divas are always heard before they can be seen. Their actions stir attention, cause emotional distress in the team, and remove the fact-based component from the decision making: it's either their way, or there are consequences! Tackling somebody acting like a diva will require a team effort: it must be done clear, that erratic, emotional behavior will not be tolerated.

Rock-Stars are acting like they are the lead singer, and rest of the team is a bunch of sidekicks. They will make a lot of noise around themselves, and diminish other members of the team, in case it would ensure their leading position. It's hard cooperating with somebody so self-obsessed, and convinced they are always right. Tackling somebody acting like a rock star requires lots of patience, and strong arguments: make sure decisions are made by the whole team, details written down, and nobody dominates the discussions.

Hackers are not as visible and obnoxious as the former two types of a toxic teammate, but they are nevertheless still acting outside of the team's mutual interest. They will work on their own thing, hidden and mysterious, until they present their surprise solution, and demand treating it as the new standard. They are sometimes very fast, leaving no room for discussion, or using the "done is better than perfect" tactic, especially software engineers. To tackle somebody acting like a hacker, you need to establish a decision and execution framework. This way everybody in the team needs to follow the commonly agreed-upon protocol, and avoid working on their own thing.

Whichever toxic teammate you are dealing with, remember that people usually strive to be the best version of themselves—they will sometimes fall down, but you and your team should be kind, and supportive to let them grow!

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