### TL; DR: 13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture\n\nWhat looked like a good idea back in the 1990ies — outsourcing, for example, software development as a non-essential business area — has meanwhile massively backfired for a lot of legacy organizations. And yet, they still do not understand what it takes to build a decent product/engineering culture. Learn more about typical anti-patterns and are signs that the organization has a toxic team culture.\n\n!(https://hackernoon.com/hn-images/0*5GfsOi_xxyGJsdwy.jpg)\n\n13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture\n\n### The Toxic Team Culture: Internals vs. Externals\n\n20 years ago, many large companies tagged along with Jack Welch’s philosophy of outsourcing non-core business areas — such as software development — to third parties. Today, they find it hard to compete in the war for product and engineering talent with the GAFAs and other agile and technology-focused organizations. Software is finally eating the world.\n\nThe lack of a product/engineering culture in those legacy organizations usually results in hiring numerous contractors and freelancers to get at least some projects going. Which in return often leads to some typical anti-patterns as the internals find it hard to team up with the externals:\n\n**No equality:** There is a pecking order among team members. This order is not based on an individual’s contribution or capability but whether that person is on pay-role or not.\n\n**Externals to the shop floor:** Externals are expected to deliver the work items. Accepting accountability and developing a sense of product ownership is regarded impeding this purpose.\n\n**Career issues:** Internals focus on advancing their careers by other means than building an outstanding product, for example, by getting involved in the organization’s politics game.\n\n**Hiring minions:** Internals claim the final say who to hire and tend to use it to select submissive minions. (As the saying goes: B people hire C people.)\n\n**Lonesome decisions:** Internals consider themselves responsible for the product and hence insist on making all decisions themselves — often single-handedly without involving the team or by overriding the team’s decision.\n\n**Assigning tasks:** Internals dispatch work items to either externals or juniors. (It is even worse when externals accept the situation and ask internals what is the next work item for them is.)\n\n**No WiFi for you:** Externals are excluded from the use of ‘internal’ infrastructure, for example, WiFi and calendar applications.\n\n### The Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide\n\n[!(https://hackernoon.com/hn-images/1*pO6lXHwrbEF6u2h_LaQLWg.png)](https://age-of-product.com/scrum-anti-patterns/)\n\nThis ebook covers over 160 Scrum anti-patterns, and it is available **for free** right here. [Download the “The Scrum Anti-Patterns Guide” now!](https://age-of-product.com/scrum-anti-patterns/)\n\n#### Please click the “clapping hands” 👏, if you found this post useful–it would mean a lot to me!\n\n**_If you prefer a notification by email, please_** [**_sign-up for my weekly newsletter_**](https://age-of-product.com/subscribe/?ref=Food4ThoughtMedium) **_and join 14,178 peers._**\n\n### The Toxic Team Culture: Equality and Diversity\n\nAnd then there are other issues beyond the internal vs. external question that might prevent a group of people that happen to be in the same place at the same time from becoming a team:\n\n**Not all developers are created equal:** Merges need to be requested and are utilized as code quality stage-gates beyond a reasonable level.\n\n**Outsourcing to juniors:** The senior team members consider writing tests, fixing bugs or documentation as a minor task below their pay-grade. Hence, it is outsourced to the junior team members.\n\n**Remote minions:** Remote team members are not fully included, for example, they never meet the co-located team members in person.\n\n**The silent treatment:** Team members are deliberately ignoring communication only to point at a later stage at a perceived lack of communication.\n\n**No diversity:** The team members basically look the same, probably white dudes in their twenties and thirties.\n\n**Voting with their feet:** The team suffers from a high fluctuation among its members.\n\n### Conclusion:\n\nWhat is difficult to understand is that legacy organizations complain that they cannot hire top engineering talent. On the other side, they do not invest in making the company a great place to work for in the first place. And by “great” I am not referring to sushi chefs on the premise or sparkling water from eight different countries in the fridge.\n\nCreating balanced, diverse teams where rank does not have privileges — that are ready and willing to accept accountability — is essential for organizations striving to build a product/engineering culture or even become agile. Their return on investment will largely depend on achieving this goal as early as possible in the transition.\n\nWhat signs of a toxic team culture have you observed? Please, share with us in the comments.\n\n### ✋ Do you want to read more like this?\n\nWell, then:\n\n* 📰 _Join 14,178 peers and_ [_sign-up for my weekly newsletter_](https://age-of-product.com/subscribe/?ref=Food4ThoughtMedium)\n* 🐦 _Follow me on_ [_Twitter_](https://twitter.com/stefanw) _and subscribe to my blog_ [_Age of Product_](https://age-of-product.com)\n* 💬 _Alternatively, join 2,400-plus peers of the_ [_Slack team “Hands-on Agile” for free_](https://goo.gl/forms/XIsABn0fLn9O0hqg2)_._\n\n[13 Signs of a Toxic Team Culture](https://age-of-product.com/toxic-team-culture/) was first published on Age-of-Product.