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I'm managing a newly created team and I'm also learning the whole dev environment we are working with.

Our team has a mix of young devs and older devs.

One of my colleagues is a senior developer. He is also very detail oriented, which is a thing I enjoy tremendously when working with him. He is also one of the few to help when I need a right/left hand man. As an example, he is the first to go to our meeting room when we are going to attend our daily scrum. He is also the one who is OK to ask when needed to put the extra hours. He has also deep experiences in account management and in management.

There is one thing that bugs me, however: his attitude, which can be very directive.

He has a tendency to get angry easily when he is not understood, not only with me but everyone that interacts with him, firing verbal shots at people in meeting or in the open space. I won't say he is verbally attacking people, but it is close.

I would also say he is very impatient and very nervous. Our colleagues who work with him know this about him and keep things quiet or don't say things to upset him.

I'm patient with him as I've worked with ex-colleagues like him, with the tendency to blow-up, and also traits from a former professional life e.g used to be managing people. Telling him things the straight way won't change things.

I know there is another way, which would be more nudging him to be less explosive but I'm not sure on the best way to handle this. As said, I value his work, I value his attitude to stand up with me when needed and gives me advice, and that I want to keep it.

Any tips or ideas are more than welcomed.

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    How do you know that "telling him things the straight way won't change things"? Have you actually tried telling him that he's coming across as unnecessarily angry? Or are you just assuming it won't work because it didn't work with somebody else at some time in the past? – Justin Cave Jan 19 at 15:20
  • Hi @JustinCave I need to try and you are correct about that. – John Legas Jan 19 at 20:35
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i know there is another way, which would be nudging him to be less explosive but I'm not sure on the best way to handle this.

This is the best way. Tell him how it is

Hi x, myself and others have noticed you tend to get quite frustrated. Could I recommend some methods to try remain calm as it's decreasing other colleagues' willingness to communicate with you as they don't want to upset you. I'm extremely happy with your work and the fact you give me advice and stand up to me but could we just to stay calm.

No colleagues should ever have to avoid another employee because of their attitude or being worried to upset them. This needs to be fixed and he needs to be told directly to ensure he understands.

  • This advice is ok in general, however the suggested sentence is terrible because it starts with accusing him with something, then you explain your reasoing becasue you think you have to explain yourself then you're saying he's a great expert and then you negate this with the "BUT" at the end. This isn't diplomatic at all. It's blaming people for something and since nobody likes it, he won't listen. – red-shield Jan 21 at 13:51
  • Instead OP should say something along these lines: dear x, you are a great expert and we value your work very much that I would appriciate it even more if we could all stay calm and on-topic during our meetings or other discussions. If there is anything I can help you with, please let me know, I'm sure we'll find a solution. Did you know that we had these great trainings about dealing with difficult situations... do you think it could be helpful? etc. – red-shield Jan 21 at 13:55
  • @JohnLegas I find you should not use the suggested speech because it's very unprofessional. – red-shield Jan 21 at 13:59
  • Hi @red-shield, thank you for your feedback. Indeed, I will not use Twyxz's advice as such, raw if you like. I will change it to make it appropriate to my circumstances. – John Legas Jan 22 at 8:56
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Twyxyz has a good answer, my addition would be how to tell him and the implications of doing so.

Firstly think long and hard about whether this is in fact a serious enough problem to warrant bringing up. To me it's just a personality issue that others understand and already deal with and no one is getting unduly upset.

If you judge it to be serious enough then handle it the same way any behavioural problem is handled by a manager. Take him aside and tell him it's an issue he needs to address. That should always be the first step. Bear in mind that when you do this it changes the dynamic between the pair of you, so watch carefully for ongoing reactions both positive and negative if you have not used this strategy before. Usually though a private 'heads up' is all it takes.

  • Hi @Kilisi, I'm no real fan of putting threat especially if my senior dev has been working at my current place longer than me. As an analogy, let's imagine I have a kid who is 30 yo , living on his own and me going to his /her place and saying "hey dude, you screw up X at my place and make a hell of a fuss in front of the whole family, so I'm going to kick you out of your home". What would his girlfriend or boyfriend or kids say? But I agree with you that I need to put things on the table. – John Legas Jan 19 at 20:40
  • A 'heads up' is not a threat, it's outlining an issue and leaving them to do something about it. A threat is when you tell them to fix it or you will do something about it. Very different scenarios and dynamics. – Kilisi Jan 19 at 20:44

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