Monsters in your office and how to deal with them

As a child, you were sure that monsters are unsympathetic creatures with claws who were about to jump at you from under the sofa. Who would have thought that they could be bumped into not only in a dark room, but also in the metro at rush hour, in the queue to the therapist, and even in your own office (when you accidentally took someone else’s cup)?

All of us, from time to time, are just not in the mood. But some individuals constantly behave disgustingly and enjoy mocking others. Let’s look at it in terms of werewolves. Some people are hairy monsters only during a full moon. Others became wild and act like beasts on any day of the month.

Each transformation has a reason. Sometimes even a small thing can turn your colleague into something you wouldn’t want to deal with. It’s better to recognise dangerous signs in advance, while you can still fix things without Van Helsing. Let’s see what turns us into monsters, and how to help a colleague become a nice person again.

Wrong side of the bed

It’s so easy to make excuses with this phrase! But after all, only monsters get out on the wrong side of the bed five times a week.

How come? Definitely there is a real reason for bad behavior: a protracted conflict, an unresolved problem or chronic pain. The worst case is when abusing colleagues without any consequences makes a monstrous person satisfied.

Antidote. If your colleague is always not in the mood, talk about it (directly, via your team lead or your HR). A calm tone conversation and honesty can clarify what is this really about.

Monsters in the office

Fear of failure

To worry before some crucial moments is fine. But sometimes a person starts to be insecure no matter the occasion is. In most cases, it ends up with constantly shifting responsibilities to team mates and doubting each step the team makes. This monster person is always responsible for nothing and takes only simple tasks.

How come? Fear of failure appears when a person does not feel secure enough at work. Every incertain decision is a risk of losing their job or status, or the respect of their colleagues.

Antidote. This monster thinks that if something goes wrong he’s in a danger zone. Therefore, the monster person does not want to make anything. To overcome it, you’ll have to work on the feedback culture in the team and find the true cause of the uncertainty.

Monsters in your office

Hunger

It could turn anyone into aggressive creature as soon as someone starts chewing a cookie nearby. From a systematically hungry person, even a “bon appetite!” can sound like a wish to suppress.

How come? We like to eat! What we don’t like is when a favourite food suddenly becomes forbidden. For example, when people are forced to change their food habits they tend to broadcast dissatisfaction on others who do not burden themselves with prohibitions.

Antidote. Replace the cookies in the office kitchen on fruits and nuts. Advise where a monster person can find some tasty and “allowed” food in town. Or from time to time have an extra sandwich to share with someone who has none.

Monsters in your office

Fatigue

Fatigue appears because of a chronic lack of sleep, too complicated or too simple tasks, or the routine at work. A tired monster person, like an influenza,  infects the office with constant irritability and apathy, which as a result greatly harms the project.

How come? Sometimes, somebody’s fighting fatigue, and simply cannot admit that he/she needs an extra day off, a hand to do the job right, or even have an honest tet-a-tet conversation about what you really want to do on the project.

Antidot. Offer help, give a hand (or two). Advise the fatigued monster to take an extra day off or to work from home for the next few days.

Recently we published an article about chronic fatigue and work: here is a 4-minute read about the causes of burnout and how to avoid it.

Monsters in your office

Petty grievances

Often, we do not see the real value and danger from them. At first somebody broke your mug (and did not admit it), you can hear their music through their headphones, you were the butt of a joke, and a few hours later someone stepped on your brand new white shoes in the metro. And that’s it. Goodbye patience.

How come? After all small disasters monster person can’t handle, he/she starts “defending” and snapping even at those who have always wished them a very good morning.

Antidote. Ask a monster person if everything is fine. Gently let him/her know how unpleasant it is when they start throwing thorns all around. Even if it’s a small bad joke or irritation, speak about it. Otherwise you risk to find yourself covered in thorns some time after.

Monsters in your office

To sum up, a monster person is distinguished from a regular person having a bad day primarily by how often such periods of “not in the mood” are repeated and how long they last. Some people, when constantly under stress, may not even notice that being unfriendly and rude have become their typical way of behaving. That’s where the colleague needs help. The calm and honest feedback are often the key to pacifying any monster person (even if it’s actually about you).

However, if someone in your team looks like a real monster, and, alas, this can’t be fixed with a kind word and warm embrace, we advise you to talk about the problem with your HR or team leads. And in addition, you can read this article about “toxic” behavior in the teams and how to deal with it on your own.

Case Study: Full-stack developers and why they are cool

Katerina Zorina, a full-stack developer at Beetroot, tells how universal specialists can increase a team’s efficiency and gives recommendations for those who’d like to be multifunctional developers.

How it began

I got into hard science when I was in school. I had an awesome physics teacher and I owe him for my fascination with tech subjects. When it was time to choose a university, I sent my documents to a couple of technical institutes without a doubt and ended up at Kharkiv University of radio-electronics. I’ve never experienced any weird feelings about being a girl who studies the automatization of production processes. But, it should be mentioned that there were a lot of girls in my group — around 30-40% of all students. We didn’t feel male dominance looming over us. But our fellow students at a radio-technical faculty couldn’t say the same — they had only three or four girls for the entire course.

When I was enrolling for my studies, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to write complicated code. Then, slowly, I’ve learned everything and even decided to complete my diploma with Java. I really enjoyed working on the practical part. That was a moment when I realized that I want to keep programming in the future and started digging into C#, which became my main language to work with. Luckily, I had enough resources — websites and books — to learn everything on my own.

Next stop — full-time job

My first job was great. There were very interesting technologies and people who were ready to help me become a better specialist. Six years passed and now I work at Beetroot for the Zwapgrid project. It’s a platform for data streaming between different systems, clients and partners. I’m developing new functionalities and maintain the existing ones. Basically, I’m working with a set of technologies that have remained the same for quite some time. The main ones are ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Core, Entity Framework Аngular JS, and Angular. On top of that, I have experience in working with MS Sql Server and MongoDB.

Full-stack developers and why they are dope

Full-stack developers can work with any part of a project, whether it is related to changing the front-end or back-end. It means that full-stack developers should possess multifaceted knowledge. However, taking into account the specificities of a project and their personal preferences, these multifunctional specialists usually have a deeper knowledge of back-end than front-end or vice versa. When clients start looking for a full-stack developer to join their project, they should pay attention to the ratio between job experience with front-end and back-end, as well as at the specificity of the project itself.

Full-stack developers can become a valuable asset for a team. First, such multifunctionality allows us to get our teeth deep into the code and website architecture, deeper than anyone. Besides, we understand the logic of both front-end and back-end parts. If there is a situation that someone from the team needs to take days off, the entire process won’t stop because we’ll be able to catch it on the go at any time.

For those who want to become full-stack developers

In order to start working with my stack of technologies, you’ll need to learn the basics. For example, you can start with C#. Nowadays it’s easy to find the necessary information on your own if you are okay with this way of studying new things. There is a good resource called Pluralsight — it’s a website that aggregates an incredible amount of different video-lessons about the languages of programming and frameworks. You’ll have to pay for your education, but it’s definitely worth it. If you’re looking for free of charge courses, you should check out Microsoft Virtual Academy.

After you’re done with the basics, choose the direction that you’d like to pursue — desktop, mobile or web development. Based on your personal preferences or based on the rate of frameworks, you can choose technologies for further learning. For instance, if you decided to work with Microsoft in the web direction, you’ll need these frameworks: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Core. If you want to work with front-end, you’ll have to start studying JavaScript/TypeScript. But don’t waste too much time on theory. The theoretical part is important but we learn faster when we work on real, practical tasks.

Direct communication with clients is very important

At the beginning of working on a distributed team, I faced certain difficulties, but those were positive challenges. They helped me to deepen my knowledge and to continue my self-development. I always liked the fact that our team was built on direct communication with clients. I think it’s a great advantage.

Our clients are located in Sweden, so the time difference between our countries is insignificant. Whenever we have a question, we can immediately get in touch with the rest of the team and discuss it. We have a policy of being honest and transparent. So we can express all our thoughts about the project even if they don’t coincide with the team’s majority opinion. We always try to find solutions that will be accepted by everyone on the team.

Besides, when communicating with clients, we boost our English. People in Sweden have a good command of English because they have bilingual TV and radio-translations. Talking to them on a regular basis allows us to polish our English proficiency too.

Plus, direct communication allows clients to get a better understanding of what’s going on within a team. They can see the progress of every team member, our productivity and the results of our work without the interference of third parties. This way we can build a strong team, where everyone feels in the right place.

By the way, Beetroot has an open vacancy for a Full-stack developer. You can read more about it, Maybe, it’s you that we’re looking for.