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I am working as Technical Team Lead for web application development Team. I have been there in the team since from 2 years. Most of my team members contain Indian teammates and working well. 6 Months back new team member has joined in my team named, Thomas, who is American.

Below are some of the things I have observed with Thomas.

  • He is going through the code and asking questions. And he is not happy with the answers he is getting from other team members. Other team members are not happy with the questions that he is asking.
  • He is trying to make some suggestions. And those are not well received by others. And this is causing him to be disappointed. Other team members believe those ideas to be crazy.
  • Sometimes he finds some issue with anything with the application and discusses it with the team members. He then perceives the valid reasons the team gives as excuses.

After some analysis I found that Thomas has a different work style than others.

  • Thomas is creating new ideas and others are implement the given Idea.
  • Thomas likes working together, discussing, brainstorming with team members always. Others like work independently and come together when it requires.
  • Thomas like to Plan and Organize. Whereas others are just move things and achieve what is required for next milestone.

Because of these work styles there is always agitations, rift, misunderstandings in the team when he approach and talk with any other team member in the team. Because of these both Thomas and other team members are annoying each other and complaining each other.

How can I avoid these conflicts and bring balance between them and restore healthy work relationship between team members?

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    You seem to see the cause of the tension quite clearly. Have you tried to explain it to the folks involved (privately)? It's possible that pointing out the positive and negative aspects of each style might make them more patient with each other. – ColleenV Oct 19 '15 at 3:48
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    "Other team members believe those ideas to be crazy" Are they? As a team lead you should be able to judge whether Thomas' suggestions are practical and feasible or way outside the scope. Someone who actually thinks before he codes and wants to see the big picture can be very valuable for a team. Of course, if all your team is doing is implementing the specs written for them and no original thought is required or encouraged then Thomas sounds like a bad (and probably overpriced) hire. – Lilienthal Oct 19 '15 at 11:19
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    Are you really serious that a team member that is creating new ideas, likes working together, discussing, brainstorming and like to plan and organize is a problem???? – eckes Oct 19 '15 at 14:51
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    @eckes - This is (likely) a cultural issue. In some cultures, what Thomas is doing would be perceived as weakness, or ineptitude, as a lack of ability to "just get it done." If you've ever worked with development teams in different parts of the world, you'll know that the cultural differences (like this) can cause complete communications breakdowns that leave both sides wondering how the other ever gets anything accomplished. – Wesley Long Oct 19 '15 at 15:21
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    Babu -- is 'Thomas' the same person as 'Jerry'? – LindaJeanne Oct 19 '15 at 20:08
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The chances seem good that Thomas was brought in as a fixer. The "different styles" you describe aren't of equal value: nonreflective, isolated, non interacting coders write bad applications, plain and simple. What you describe as your team's "style" is really just a set of very bad habits. Everything Thomas is doing will specifically improve matters.

So my recommendation to you is not to try to figure out how to minimize his impact. If you want to keep your job, get on board with Thomas' ideas and champion them, or you'll be the first to go.

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    Could not agree more. When I read the question, I asked myself if the habits described threre are really the bad ones. Thomas sounds like a complete and experienced developer that has an understanding of his job other than just being a code monkey. – eckes Oct 19 '15 at 14:48
  • I don't know that this person could be identified as a fixer (we really don't know the intent of the hiring), however that certainly is likely to be the end result as team-based bad habits are brought to the forefront. I agree with you, though, that the first casualty will be the lead who can't reconcile the twain. – Joel Etherton Oct 19 '15 at 17:30
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Don't be so quick to avoid conflict. Some conflict is good, but everyone needs to know how to engage in it and how far they can go. Eventually, you have to stop debating and get things done.

It's important that the leader brief new hires about what is currently going on and what input you expect from the new person. It doesn't sound like you did that. I once joined a team that was at the tail-end of a very difficult conversion. This project delayed the filling of the position I took which made everyone's job even harder. I felt like some people were being lazy. I was able to adjust my perceptions when I realized all the hours they were putting in previously and am very thankful I never voiced this opinion because I would have looked like a fool. It would then be very difficult to get everyone's trust if I would have accused them.

As the leader, you have to decide if what Thomas is proposing makes sense in the context of this team and the current project. What may technically be the best strategy could be a poor choice if it means requiring your team to disproportionately use up time learning new technology and refactoring existing code.

I prefer to never allow code or any other work product to be done in isolation. The greatest writers have had editors. No one is perfect. This is why code reviews are a common practice. Of course your team prefers to avoid any scrutiny which I think is bad. That doesn't mean the new guy gets to come in and tell everyone how bad they are without knowing all the factors.

Thomas may need to learn how to be tactful. It may not be what he is saying as much as the way he is saying it. If he doesn't agree with a technology choice, he needs to learn not to interject conclusions like the others are just lazy and/or unskilled.

Make sure you address everyone and let them know they are to act professionally and get things done. If that means Thomas has to just flow with the group, that's the decision the leader has to make. You may want to suggest to the others to not be so sensitive and if they're going to make technical choices, they better be prepared to justify them to their coworkers, management and clients.

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If Thomos is the one causing the issue, then he is the one to talk to. Have a chat and define his role so he understands where his responsibilities are, and more importantly where they are NOT. As a new team member he is the one that needs to fit in the most, antagonising, and looking down on his peers work is not the way to do it. So it needs to be nipped in the bud.

Modifying the way the whole team works to keep a new member happy who probably will never be happy is counter-productive, it will just produce more resentment from the original team members.

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    One of the biggest benefits of bringing new blood into a team is to challenge the existing ways of doing things. Often a company/team does something a certain way for historical reasons only (or because it is easy). Fresh ideas can be a net gain for a team if managed well. – dave Oct 19 '15 at 3:36
  • No, thats why new leadership is given to a team, not a random team member with no authority – Kilisi Oct 19 '15 at 4:29
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    @Kilisi: That also depends on the work culture of a given country. Some countries have a very flat hierarchy, while others have a very strict hierarchy. – Juha Untinen Oct 19 '15 at 8:16
  • I've worked in a few countries, never seen a flat hierarchy yet though, sounds like an interesting concept. – Kilisi Oct 19 '15 at 9:30
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    @Kilisi: It's very common in the Nordic countries – Juha Untinen Oct 19 '15 at 11:18

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