Ravi Shankar Rajan


STOP your BEST developers from QUITTING

And paying MORE money does not ALWAYS work.

I am a manager by profession and a developer at heart.

And having risen up from the position of a junior developer, I prided myself in knowing about each and every nuance of the developer “species”; their fears, their sorrows, their triumphs, their defeats and every tiny bit about their psychology, their way of thinking.

It is this knowledge that helped me to handpick the best developers for my organization.

And one of the crowning highlights that massaged my ego insanely was that “I could identify a great developer by just talking to him for 15 minutes” I claimed unabashedly.

Till I got a reality check that shattered my illusion.

My best developer Jack resigned from the organization.

He was neither ready to consider any proposal for staying back nor he was giving proper reasons for leaving. He was, again and again, harping on the same reason of “low compensation and higher role”, which the HR felt was not the real reason, as he was already in the highest bracket within his grade.

I had been his “mentor” during his initial days in the organization and he had a great respect for me in that regard. So I planned to use my rapport to have a one-to-one talk with him to get the “real” reason.

I was deeply hurt by his decision to leave and wanted to try my best to prevent any loss of expertise to the organization.

After much plodding and cajoling, he came up with a surprising reason -:

“Too much Teamwork and Collaboration is stifling my creativity. I was getting frustrated every day.”

I nearly jumped out of my chair hearing this audacious statement. This is the first time, I have heard somebody complaining about “too much” team work and collaboration being harmful. I was also angry as I was instrumental in bringing the “collaboration” culture within the organization and took great pride in my achievement.

I held my tongue and allowed him to give his reasons-:

Teamwork is Promoting Mediocrity

I come from a mathematics background and for me, any code written should be optimized for performance, reusability, and scalability. However, in my team, I find that everybody is repeating the “same ineffective” code again and again.

I gave my suggestions multiple times to the team to “change” this approach of working, but nobody was willing to “rock” the boat and “do something different” from what is been done by the “entire team” till now.

I feel like a Jutting nail, that is to be “Hammered” down.

Every team meeting is a test of “patience” for me. Every idea of mine has to go through “multiple” Devil’s advocates and “Bouts of Ridicule” before it is either shot down or accepted with lot of reluctance.

Everybody is happy to continue the work as it is and I always feel like fighting a lone battle at all times. What is the use of harping lessons on creativity and innovation when every creative thought is crushed down in the same predefined blended mixture?

I Think and “Team” gets the “Credit”.

I have created and implemented, so many innovative ideas (in spite of tough resistance !!) in this project which has resulted in huge cost savings. But have you even seen my name somewhere under the credits?

I understand we work as a “team” and “teamwork” is paramount, but my “creativity” cannot be shared by the entire team. You need to have some mechanism in place to reward and recognize good work that is beyond the run-of-the-mill.

My Manager only “Supports the team”.

My manager knows my capabilities, but he will never go against the “team dictates”. He has promoted a great “democratic” atmosphere in the team, no doubt about it, but it is not helping in recognizing talent and expertise.

Even the annual appraisal ratings are guided by the “team performance “and I get more or less the “same rating” that everybody gets. What is the use of Thinking, if horse and donkey are treated the same?

I feel “Alone” and “Left Out” at All Times

I feel like a “sore thumb” in team outings and parties. I try my best to “gel” with the team, but due to some reason, everybody either avoids me or keeps their distance with me. I want the team to “Appreciate” my vast “expertise” and I am ready to help them in every way possible, but strangely my very “expertise” has become my Achilles’ Heel.

I think there is a very thin difference between being perceived “arrogant” and being perceived “knowledgeable” and I think my better knowledge has become a “label” of my so-called arrogance.

The One Lesson I learned here

I could not retain him, but his reasons appeared very valid to me! We are at fault for losing him.

Getting a “Collaborative” team is every Manager’s dream come true. But the same “Teamwork” can become a nightmare if it degenerates into “Mediocrity” and stifles “Creativity”. It is every manager’s responsibility to ensure that, creativity within his team is nurtured, encouraged and rewarded at all times.

Remember Effective Teamwork is always a “melting pot” of differing opinions rather than “coterie” of individuals supporting the “same” opinion.
About the author-:
Ravi Rajan is a global IT program manager based out of Mumbai, India. He is also an avid blogger, Haiku poetry writer, archaeology enthusiast and history maniac. Connect with Ravi on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter.

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