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Trust and Ethics in the Workplace

This talk covers two essential elements for satisfying and productive work, as well as organizational efficiency: trust and ethics, while also exploring the connection between them.

Trust is a key for autonomy, which necessitates professionalism. We place our trust in a surgeon to perform the operation without interference, so why should our approach be any different when it comes to development processes?

Professional ethics provides the guidelines for the behaviour at work. While physicians are bound by the Hippocratic Oath to provide care and healing, why we, as engineers, sometimes agree to deliver bad quality code?

Vitaly has a total of 22 years of experience in the IT field. He spent 2 years as a system administrator, 13 years as a software developer with a focus on frontend, and 7 years in management, mentorship, and teaching roles. Vitaly specialises in working with individuals, engineers, communities, and companies to facilitate and encourage their success and growth.


Vitaly Sharovatov 0:19
Right, thank you so much. Thanks for inviting me. And for well, allowing me to speak on something that I deeply care about. My talk is called trust and ethics at the workplace. And this topic, or the conjunction of these two topics, is rarely discussed at work, usually, in some research from moral philosophy or something else. So I think we lack some understanding of what trust and ethic means, and why it’s important to have it the workplace. So I’m Vitaly, I have more than 22 years of experience in itI stars when I was 17. I did some system administration. Then I did 13 years of JavaScript development. I started with IE 5.5 and opera 7.5, which was a nightmare. Yeah, I must admit, then I shifted to engineering management. And I now still teach engineering managers, CTOs. And I consult companies on various process issues, etc. I also write articles, I am now a developer advocate at, my company does quite a decent test management system. And I love cats and dogs, I’ve been always loving them. They’re just my true friends. So I want to start this talk with a short video. Just listen carefully.

Vitaly Sharovatov 7:29
So in this video, oops, let me hit play. Once again, on this video, you’ve heard some squeaky noises. And essentially, what this is, is there is a couple of types of ground squirrels, which have very particular and peculiar behavior. They have century roles. So it’s like they have shifts when some squirrel picks a central role. And she starts looking for predators for owls and other predators who hunt those squirrels. And as soon as she is always here, as soon as she hears or sees the predator says, she starts screaming, as you’ve heard. So she alarms everyone, essentially exposing herself to more danger, because the predator will not only see her, but the predator will also hear her and attack her. So this looks like a very altruistic if now, if not chemicals this style behavior, where one particular squirrel exposure just shows very strange behavior, alarming everyone, so that they can hide from the predator and exposing her to more danger. And there was a great scientist by the surname of Hamilton, and a nine since 1964. He wrote a book called genetical evolution of social behavior where he explained why in many, many species, there is this trait of behavior where a certain act is done on altruistic ground. And essentially, it’s very simple. If this squirrel doesn’t alarm everyone, then chances are that the whole pack the whole group will die.

Vitaly Sharovatov 9:24
Just because the predator will support them all and wolves don’t hunt in just one go the hunts till their well fed. So if that squirrel doesn’t have trust, that are the squirrels will do the same reciprocal reciprocally, then the whole pack will die. And yes, by the way, on every slide, I have a QR code linking to some article or study or research related to what I’m talking about. Also, another good example of this interesting collaborative havior, which involves trust is wolves when they hunt, because some of the wolves, they have to distract the prey. And some other wolves will then bite the legs of the prey, to immobilize it, and to then kill it and eat it. So those dogs, those wolves, which are behind the prey, they are trusting others to distract the prey. If they didn’t trust those who are on the front of the bison, then they would be just killed by the bison. So essentially, some of the wolves are just showing some altruistic behavior. And some of the wolves are relying on that altruistic behavior. In our species, and homosapiens, one or 2 million years ago, was a very interesting shift in our evolution, where we started trusting each other even more. So trust does facilitate cooperation, as soon as we started to specialize, so that there is a group of people who hunt, there is a group of people who cook, there is a group of people or one or two people who craft some tools, we had more success in evolution. And this allowed us to have so called non genetic evolution.

Vitaly Sharovatov 11:17
So we started evolving as a social species. And it’s not only some coincidental behavior found in some species, actually, there is a very sound math theory explaining why trust uncooperative behavior is beneficial in some cases. And the main cases, the main case for this is so called non zero sum game. There is a zero sum game where we compete, let’s say you and I compete for a limited resource. And I want to take more of it, and you want to take more of it. And then there is no zero sum game, such as, let’s say teamwork, where you and I working together collaborating together, produce more than we could produce if we worked individually. And also, companies investing money in our salaries, they are playing the same nonzero sum game, because more they invest more people they hire, with normal processes with proper processes, more money the company gets. Or if we talk about the team, if I invest in teaching someone a team, or in sharing knowledge, or in helping someone on the team, this brings more value to everyone, because the team is now more experienced, the team on the whole has more knowledge now. And so that the team can produce more result. And then if the company is well managed, we can get more money, or maybe and our customers will be happier.

Vitaly Sharovatov 13:00
So what is trust, there are multiple definitions of trust. And what’s funny is that pretty much every job listing I’ve seen, has somewhere between lines, they have something like we have a trustworthy team, or will work in a trusting environment, or we trust each other. But it’s very sad to see that it seems none of those managers or HR recruiters who can post those job descriptions actually understand what trust is. Because according to a couple of definitions I’ve put here they are from different areas of social psychology, whatever. Trust is what first thing trust is a willingness of the trustor to become vulnerable to the trustee, on the presumption that the trustee will act in ways that benefited trusts her. As we’ve seen with squirrels, if a squirrel picks a central role in a shift, then she trusts that here dangerous to her behavior will do good to the whole pack, and that others will do the same reciprocally. So in addition, according to the definition of trust her does not have control over the actions of the trustee. But that squirrel could not enforce others to behave in a similar way she did. She just trusted them. And others definition is that individual trusts if she voluntarily places resources at the disposal of another party without an illegal commitment from the latter.

Vitaly Sharovatov 14:36
So if I spend a few hours teaching some member of my team I am putting a few hours of my time billable time into that person to help that person. And I have no legal commitment from that person that she or he would return me those hours. So yeah, it’s just an act of trust. It’s a leap of faith that I do something altruistically. Wanting the whole team, the whole group to become better. So why am I talking about trust at work? Well, there’s plenty of studies and research, almost proving that effective teamwork yields greater results for all parties involved. So if I’m a part if I’m a member of an effective team, I’m happier, I’m more performance, I can learn better and foster. And the whole team works better. And this effective teamwork demands trust. All the studies I’ve I’ve read and it’s a few books like five books or six books on trust and evolution of trust in teams and nature and everywhere. And all the studies and research I’ve read more than 40 research papers, they all say that effective teamwork has proper collaboration and proper collaboration demands trust. If I can’t trust my team member to help me, our collaboration will not be good. So as ground squirrels altruistically alert, others, teammates collaborate by altruistically sharing knowledge and helping each other. This is essential for effective teamwork, I highly recommend you read this QR code or some books on trust in teams. And what’s very interesting, very important here, according to the definition, trust means no control. So if you see or if you work in a company where you have KPIs OKRs, metrics, grades, time tracking tools, individual performance reviews, or some process decisions imposed on your teams, like someone tells you, you now need to work in Scrum, or now you are switching to Kanban or now you are doing project management wherever this means that you are being controlled by all these tools. And this means that management doesn’t trust in you. Or let’s say if you have code reviews or synchronous code reviews, that means that your team members do not trust you and management do not trust you. So trust means allowing and nurturing autonomy.

Vitaly Sharovatov 17:31
And what’s very peculiar here is that according to Daniel Pink, and he actually wrote his book based on the whole bunch of psychological research and the consensus of psychological scientists, they all say that autonomy is one of the strongest motivators. So first, if you have trust, you will not control people. And if you do not control people, they will be more autonomous and the teams will be more autonomous, and they will be much more motivated. These QR code, if I remember correctly, links to so called control aversion studying, there is actually very good scientific proof that whenever you control people, they show less results. So if my CEO told me, you told me I need 10 articles per month, I would produce even knowing this law, psychological law, I would still produce less than compared to the case when he tells me Vitaly produce as many articles as you can I trust you, I trust you to do a good job. So autonomy is one of the strongest motivators. And this is not just psychological studies, there is a very interesting Gallup research saying that broken trust when people understand and feel that they’re not trusted at the workplace. These causes disengagement.

Vitaly Sharovatov 19:04
And Gallup states that disengaged employees cost 7.8 trillion in lost productivity in the world, and is equal to 11% of global GDP GDP. So the issue of lack of trust is so significant that 1/10 of the global GDP is lost, just due to this condition. And whenever I tell people anything about trust, and I tell them that in order to trust, you have to show your vulnerability and exercise no control over your employees or colleagues. People always say, Well, how do I even do that? Because trust to start trusting is to have this leap of faith. I being a manager needs to start trusting my developer so my employees and then potential Surely, they will do the same to me, potentially. So the question is what to do with free riders. In game theory, there is this concept of a free rider, someone who lives in a society or in a team or in a group. And that person doesn’t trust anyone doesn’t play along the ethical rules of the team. And he becomes or she becomes toxic, because others when they see that someone is not playing fair, they will start playing not fair to the question of freeriders is huge. And there is no proper answer in political science, political science, and in sociology, there’s still no proper answer what to do with them, and how to design how to design such a team, where they will be no free riders, or how to design such a society where there will be no free riders. I think it’s currently impossible to answer that.

Vitaly Sharovatov 20:59
But So this raises a huge question, Should I start with trust? Should I trust people? How do I do that? Knowing that trust is so essential for team performance, and for people motivation? What can we do about it? And I think that the answer is to have some professional ethics. So when we come to a doctor, we trust that person, why does why does it happen? Why do we trust doctors, I would even say that we perceive hospitals or doctors sometimes like some sacred place where some sacred knowledge and good people work and do stuff. And help off help us. So I would say, My hypothesis is that we trust doctors, not only because we know they are, they have diplomas, and they are well certified. But also that we know, or at least feel that they have these ethics that they will help people anyway. And a few millennia ago, doctors started having this Hippocratic Oath. In Legion, it’s, it’s pronounced as premium non narcotic. And in plain English, it’s, I will use those regimens, which will benefit my patients according to my greatest stability and judgment. And I will do no harm or injustice to them. Neither I will administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so. Nor will I suggest such a course.

Vitaly Sharovatov 22:29
So we kind of feel that when we come to a doctor and tell them that there’s some headache, I have some headache, we trust that the doctor will not just chop her head off, or do something crazy. But the doctor would that would actually diagnose the problem, the doctor would actually try to figure out according to his knowledge and abilities, what, what the reason for this headache is and what proper treatment to administer, to cater for that reason to stop this headache and to cure the disease. And, essentially, ethics is just principles that govern behavior. So as I as I’ve shown with medical ethics, main principle there is do no harm, and do some good. And what happens in engineering. So like imagine in medicine, it’s very simple what the doctor says, they say, I am a specialist. My goal here is to solve problems. My knowledge helps me diagnose the problem, I will do what’s right, even if the client wants what’s wrong. So if you come to a doctor and tell them, cut my leg off, they will not do that, for sure, they will try to understand, maybe you need a psychiatrist. Or maybe you actually are in pain and you need some treatment to your leg. But they will never do what you asked, they will actually do what’s needed for you. Because they know better. What’s happening. And in engineering, I rarely see some ethic ethics. First reason for that, I think is that we have no tradition, no proper tradition. medicine and medical ethics is a few millennia old, and engineering. It only started with pyramids, I think. And it wasn’t that well defined. With ethics and everything. We still have this disagree but commit whenever a manager tells us ship this code, even if it’s bad. Let’s cut the corners. And we’ll figure it out later. We still do that we still we still don’t say things like the doctors would say I would not administer the drug to you.

Vitaly Sharovatov 24:50
We still have a huge problem of imposter syndrome. I’m not sure if doctors have impostor syndrome at all. But I know that pretty much every developer every programmer He has imposter syndrome, where we do not understand if we actually are good enough to decide what to do to say, I will not do this whiteboarding whiteboard, coding exercise, it’s on the interview, or I will not shoot code with a pass. Or I will not shift to scrum because I don’t think it’s good enough for me, or things like that. We also have system issues. In our team, we have performance reviews, which are seriously detrimental to every company. And they dissolve teams, and they just just the teams disappear. We have groups now, groups of individuals competing for bonuses, we have grades where managers grade us where managers decide who is better. And we have lots of cargo cult and irrationality. We copy technologies from other companies thinking that if other companies succeeded, that might be because they had those technologies, well, actually no. Or we copy processes, or we copy Spotify model, or we copy some other models from different companies, or we copy Google interviews to our small startups thinking that if Google is so successful, maybe we could do the same. So we work irrationally rather than have a medical science, we abandon engineering science, we just work as coders most of the time. So that’s, I think that’s the reason why engineering ethics is so rarely seen. And why am I talking about ethics? So first thing, as I told you, trust brings better teamwork. Ethics, I think, is the first step to allow yourself to start trusting people. Because imagine we have this situation in Google with layoffs or in any other big company with layoffs. So a company decides to cut 6% of staff. Imagine what would happen if 94 remaining percent of staff said, Well, you know, what, do your management, if you caught if you lay off those people, we will quit too. If those 94% had ethics, would that be better for the market, I think it would be better for the market, because that will stop over hiring.

Vitaly Sharovatov 27:28
Or if you’re working on a team, and your manager tells you, you need to ship that best quality feature now. And we will work with tech dept. Let’s say in a month or two, you know, the customers will be struggling with that code, you know, this with that feature, you know, the team would be struggling with maintaining that feature, you know that the manager does not have enough information and knowledge, at least on a total cost of ownership model of calculating how much money maintaining that code would take on spend. So you know, the manager is telling you to do the bad stuff, and yet you do it. But what would happen if you and your team had ethics? What would happen? If you followed, let’s say, medical ethics, code, medical ethical code, if you would say, Well, dear manager, you know what, you are going to harm yourself, the company and the customers. So then we are not doing what you demand? What would happen, then, would that be better for you, for the team, for the company and for the customers? It’s for you to decide. But I think that ethics help people act morally and professionally better. If you have this strong ethics, you can then think that, like you can then align with others, with people on your team. So ethics could help you and your team to be better. And ethics help live a happier life. If you’re proud of your work. And actually false, we work more time more hours a day, then we spend with our families. I think it’s very important to leave a happy life at work to and if you’re proud at your work with your work, if you’re proud with what and how you’re doing. I think you’d be happier. And on these QR codes, you can see a research proving that happy developers are more productive. So you see how it’s all linked together. If you start trusting people, you have better collaboration and more performance. If you start trusting people, you’ll live a happier life because you know people will help you but trusting people is hard. So if you develop your own ethical code, and alignment with others, it will be easier for you to rely on others to trust you to. And that will yield you a happier life. It’s very hard to start with developing your ethical code. So, if you believe in God, there is Bible for you. There is a mutualistic imperative. If you don’t, you can follow Kant’s categorical imperative, where I think it’s quite simple. You behave in a way that you want to be a universal law across your team and company. I usually simplified to my mom’s categorical imperative, I call it I behave in a way that I would want my mom to be treated everywhere. So I do not. I do not argue with a taxi driver in rude words, because I don’t want my mom to be argued like that.

Vitaly Sharovatov 30:59
It’s very simple, I think. But I would suggest that everyone should develop their own ethical code, develop some principles, guiding the behavior at work. And then try to align those principles with others and influence others lead them by example, if people see if your teammates see that you object to harmful things imposed by colleagues or managers, or asked by colleagues and managers, chances are other people would at least consider objecting to. And if you are a senior developer at your company, imagine what would happen if junior developers who just joined your team saw you objecting to crazy stuff. So you saw you doing the right thing? They would be impressed by that. And they would learn that things like that can happen, and that you can demand others to treat the team well and treat the colleagues well and treat the customers well. I think that’s it. There’s my Twitter, Telegram, email, GitHub and blog. I would love to have a discussion about this topic. If anyone has questions or anything to command, please feel free.

Brian Rinaldi 32:26
All right. Thank you, Vitaly, that was great. Thank you. Like I said before, I think it’s just as a topic we don’t talk about it’s often kind of difficult to talk about to be quite honest. Like, like, you know, I shared an experience in the chat. And I know, it’s difficult sometimes to even share some of the experiences of dealing with this. Because, you know, there might there’s always fear of repercussions. Right? Yes. So. But I can say, from my own personal experience, multiple jobs, but even like, more recent, not my current job, but more recent experience, where a lack of trust caused, you know, basically people like we weren’t, we’re not just not productive, but we people wouldn’t share critical like critical feedback. Well, yeah. Because they seen others get basically ripped apart for sharing that. So nobody shared it. And so, you know, that the product and everything, not just our morale suffered, but the output suffered, because we weren’t, we weren’t facing critical, like the critical decisions we need to make, because, you know, nobody could share that feedback. So, yeah, anyway, that’s just my long way of saying like, I think I think all the points you made are, thank you. I really are really great. If anybody in the audience has any questions, I have some questions myself. But if you’re in the audience, you have questions, please put them in the chat. And I’ll make sure that Vitaly gets them. So actually, that that got me thinking about your autonomy, and controlling people gives you less results. And you know. So outside of leaving, right, that’s like taking that scenario I posed where people are afraid to give critical feedback outside of just leaving the company, I mean, how do you? How would you suggest like handling? Yes.

Vitaly Sharovatov 34:45
Yeah, thank you. That’s a very good question. I can share my own experience first and then propose some steps for others. So I am a Developer Advocate. I think And before that, I was doing coaching and mentoring for engineering managers for seven years. So my skill is influencing others and teaching others sometimes even sometimes when others those others don’t want to be taught. That’s usually quite hard. But still I want to influence even my boss. So, for example, in my company, we had a few months of one on ones where we were trying to agree on the, let’s say, velocity of mine, how much stuff I should produce. I was explaining and showing and explaining and showing again, that if I am controlled, I am demotivated. I show I’ve shown multiple research on the topic. I’ve explained how this demotivates me when I’m having my deadline, consume, I have done my unfortunate, I am fortunate that my co is a former developer, and he still develops code. So he knows that when there is a deadline quality drops. So when we were trying to agree on this velocity of mine, I told him, if we agree on that, I would have a deadline every week. Instead, let me show you how much I can do. If I have no deadlines and control. Let’s run an experiment. And we’ll run an experiment for a couple of months. And he saw how much I produce talks, blog posts, etc, and some code. And he was happy with that. And I told him, I’ll see my Dirceu. If you’re happy with that, should we actually come back to the discussion of the let’s say KPIs? It’s not KPIs, but philosophy control? He said, Well, no, it’s all right. Please proceed doing what you’re doing. But if you stop doing it, we will discuss it again. I said, Fine. Of course, we will discuss it again, if I have problems that will come and talk to you. So there is this very simple way of trying now things with no control. Ask your manager for an experiment. It’s like in most companies, where I see Scrum, product managers quite often bring hypothesis or product hypothesis features or user stories, which they are not certain about, which they’re not sure about. They tell the team, it’s an experiment, let’s have an experiment for a couple of weeks, I would say the team can say the same, let’s have an experiment for a couple of weeks, please do not control us for two or three, Sprint’s we will see how we’ll work, let’s have no sprint goals. Let’s let’s just work on delivering quality stuff. And you know what, there is actually a good study in a very interesting one, I will find a link to it. There was one team. And they were arguing all the time about story points calculation. So their manager was saying your story points are not predictable at all, your velocity is strange, etcetera, etcetera. And they told them they salt. So the variation of the story points was very big. They did this, they removed story points estimation at all. And they replaced it with the number of user stories. So they saw that within a month, they actually deliver a very similar amount of user stories per month. So they stopped doing estimation in story points at all. So they stopped having this control of how much stuff are you promising to deliver by the end of your sprint, and they were much happier, having shifted to this way of working. So I would say try an experiment. If you’re working with sprints and Scrum, try running an experiment with no sprint goal. And with no real good, end of deadline, end of sprint, just say we’re gonna have a month of work. Let’s try if you have a good scrum master, they will agree I think.

Brian Rinaldi 38:56
Yeah, that is interesting. I, I’d say, I was thinking about as you spoke, and I’m like, you know, I tend to need a deadline on the one hand, but I tend to be fine. I also tend to be fine setting those deadlines for myself, like so. So I said, I set

Vitaly Sharovatov 39:15
those deadlines for yourself. That’s very important. It’s like with metrics as well. If I am seeing like, you know, there is this program that a good author who writes books, has to write at least, let’s say a couple of kilobytes of tax per day. But that’s the metric they set for themselves. For themselves, they need to see how much they’re doing. As soon as this metric escaped somewhere, this controller versioning mechanism kicks in. As soon as we see someone demanding from us a couple of kilobytes of tax per day, we will produce much less.

Brian Rinaldi 39:51
It’s I mean, I can say from experience that I’ve seen that incentive people play to you know, you always have To, on the one hand, I understand, like, the need for metrics of some sort, not necessarily like metrics in terms of velocity, but like goals, we have goals. So, and those goals have to be something I can measure. Otherwise, how do I know if you’ve succeeded or not? Right? Like, I have to say, like we’re trying to, you know, and the good companies have worked for these are more like trying to set ourselves some kind of target, so that we know where we’re headed, as opposed to being like, Hey, you, you were you, we said you’d reach not 100 And you reached 99. You know, you’re punished kind of thing. Like they understood these are, these are just they were more helping us have a direction as opposed to some kind of hard and fast thing. I mean, things change as you go. You know, so. But my point being, you, sometimes you set these goals, and then you lose track of why they were set. And people start just kind of adjusting the way they do things. They hit those metrics, and not because of why we set the metrics in the first place.

Vitaly Sharovatov 41:15
You’re describing Goodhart law, that’s good hearts law. Okay. Yeah, he was saying that there was actually a scientist, social psychologists of a country member and mathematician, he was saying that as soon as something measurable becomes a target, he sees it ceases to be a good metric. Because when you say Let’s have 1 million unique users next year, and on our website, you can lose your focus, you can acquire some crazy PR agency damaging the PR brand of your to the brand of your team, but actually acquiring this 1 million users. We just lose control of ourselves as soon as we have this set in stone, some some goal.

Brian Rinaldi 42:00
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I, I partially, I agree with that. But a part of me also feels like well, you have to have some goal. That’s measurable. If, like I said, I feel like it’s a matter of how you deal with the goal, right? Like, like, we would set it as, you know, in the best teams I’ve worked with, this was more like, okay, let’s, let’s, let’s see if we can achieve this. But we’re not, we’re not gonna hire you, we’re not gonna fire you, because we’re gonna punish you. Like, we’re gonna, you know, if we can achieve it, like, we’ll adjust. If there’s a better metric. We’ll change the metric. Right, like, you know,

Vitaly Sharovatov 42:36
I would love to have this as a separate talk. I, I love this topic.

Brian Rinaldi 42:41
Yeah, I do you think it is an important talk? Yeah. But I mean, getting back to how that relates to ethics, I think. Yeah. You know, I also want to one of the other things I was I was thinking about is your responsibility as an employee, I’m going to kind of go a little bit of biographical, like, career wise, I’d say, early in my career, you know, if I saw something, I was a little too afraid to bring it up, because I was too young. And I was worried, and that was very hierarchical structures at these companies and things like that. But I always felt like, from an ethical standpoint, I, I ended up leaving, having said nothing while I was employed there. And then because I don’t want to burn any bridges, I would say nothing. Yeah. And, and I always felt like this disservice not just to the company, but to everybody who else who did could easily leave. And I’ve kind of since changed my point of view on this just started, like, I always, like, for instance, before, if I’m thinking of leaving a company, because I’m unhappy because of something, how things are going, like, I’ve kind of come to this decision, I always Should I say something, say something before, I always go like, Hey, listen, I’m not happy. This is what I see going on. And, you know, I’d like to repair it. And if if we can repair it, I want to stay but if we can’t repair it them. And I think that to me feels like I’ve never burned a bridge that way for the most people are, you know, either we kind of settle on, hey, this is how we work and maybe this isn’t a good fit for you. Or, or, you know, like, we work it out. But but it I think is reached an ethical standard that I feel

Vitaly Sharovatov 44:41
oh, yes. Yeah, that’s what you what you just said is very important. You felt unhappy when you were burning that bridge, you felt unhappy that you didn’t say something? It’s it’s very important for us to feel this fairness in what we do and what and how we are treated as well. There is actually a good body of research Charge, on fairness as well, how unfairness makes us unhappy? It’s very strange, right? Like, we live in capitalism. Why would we be so keen to have fairness? But well, we actually do. We want fairness. We don’t want dogs to be mistreated at this on the streets. We don’t want kids to be mistreated. We don’t want us to be mistreated at work. We don’t want to mistreat people. I would say that people are inherently good, until they’re very much spoiled in some way.

Brian Rinaldi 45:34
Yeah, yeah. I agree with that. So well, I want to get to one. One last thing, because you talked with brought up fairness to my last lesson in the whole free riders question. You know, the other lesson I’ve learned over my career is that is that culture. And I think this ethics in almost is all about culture, your culture is a very delicate thing. Like, it turns out that while it takes years to build properly, and then destroyed very quickly, so, you know, what do you do in a scenario where you feel like that that is happening? Often because of freeriders? off maybe because of change, management, whatever, like, what would be your recommendation out deal with

Vitaly Sharovatov 46:35
that? Yeah, from from the engineering manager, I’m putting my em hat on. From that position. I learned to dismiss, let’s say, freeriders, when I see them, I had just two cases. In one case, eight years ago, I failed to fire the person. And the person destroyed the team. That was very, very sad, because I cared for this team for that team a lot. A team was destroyed, the person was toxic, and he was really proper free rider. He wasn’t doing anything, he wasn’t helping others. He was demanding stuff, proper free rider, I failed to fire him. That was my fail my failure. Next time, I saw that as a consultancy gig, and we actually managed to show the team that that person was a free rider, and the team decided they actually voted, they decided to let him go. And that was a very, very good team building, I would say activity, it’s weird to say so. But the team saw that they were actually empowered to take decisions like that. And you know, what, when the whole team thought saw that a person may be expelled might be expelled from the team for being a free rider, everyone started working. And for real, working for real, not a we’re not burning out no, but just properly fairly working. And that was an online setting, not an office setting. So I would say that managing culture in a remote work is much harder than managing culture in the office setting. So yeah, I would say from the managerial standpoint, you need to understand if the person is free, either, but be 100%, that you are not mistaking this case with someone who is struggling, due to some systemic issue on your team. Maybe the person is not on boarded, well, maybe something else is blocking that person. Maybe he is not or she is not treated? Well. I’ve seen once that there was a gay guy who was mistreated on a team serious like, well, he wasn’t doing well on the team, right? He was no one wanted to work with him. So I actually had to have some proper discussions with the team and explain them how they were damaging not only that men life, but their own diversity in the team and everything else. So yeah, as a manager, you must be 100% that it is not a system issue, but it is the person. And I now by now have 22 years of experience. And I’m only seen two, three writers. And I’ve worked in big companies, I’ve worked in small companies, I consulted a lot, only two real freeriders. So they are quite rare. But you as a manager will support them, I think. And then you talk to the team. And if you are a team member, I have this very good advice. If you see someone if you think someone is a free rider, ask them for help. Ask them to help you. That will show if the person cares of the team that will show like if the person says no, you can always ask May I help you? Maybe you are too busy. May I help you? So if the person rejects the your request, you can ask if you could help the person. And if the person says, Well, I’m not sure, whatever, then that person might be a free rider. And then well, there are two ways either to escalate the issue, which is, I would say an ethical way to raise a concern with a manager. Or if you are in an autonomous team, which are very rare, you can vote. I’ve seen only two autonomous team where people were voting one I actually assembled one I just saw.

Brian Rinaldi 50:35
That’s, that’s good advice. I especially like your idea of asking them for for help. That’s, that’s great. We got one. Before we go, we got one last question. One question from the audience here. He’s, they say something I ran into a leader would act nice most of the time, until they blew up from something insignificant, while peer coding isn’t important to bring up how the interaction made me feel versus ignoring it, as it was their own personal issue.

Vitaly Sharovatov 51:04
Oh, very, very good question. Thank you so much. I love this. And I, I have this advice. I like to show my vulnerability in this situation. I like to tell the person that my motivation, My soul is hurt. I am actually hurting from what you’re doing now. Could you please help me with this? Could you please not do this? Maybe it’s some rude words that I perceive in a very personal way or whatever. Maybe it’s something else. But you can also always show your vulnerability if the person is good. Chances are the person will just say, Well, I’m sorry, Michael, but my mistake, you know, should happens. But if the person is a bad guy or bad girl, then they would laugh at you. And in that case will escalate.

Brian Rinaldi 51:57
Yeah. Yeah, I had. I will say, I’ve had very few fortunately, situations where managers actually like, blew up. But I’d say I brought it up to them, like one time, and they they actually blew up because I brought it up to them. Yeah. Okay, that settles it. Yeah, I can’t, you know, this is not an untenable situation. But you know, so I think it is.

Vitaly Sharovatov 52:34
But it takes courage. It takes courage to actually tell the person that you are being hurt that you are hurt. It takes courage, I must say it. But then What other choice do you have? Just leave? Well, okay.

Brian Rinaldi 52:48
Yeah, I agree with that, like that just leave is it’s not, it’s doesn’t it doesn’t even offer the person the possibility of redemption on their part. So like, you know, you I think you give them a chance to redeem themselves. Yeah. And, and then you make it. I mean, yeah, in my opinion, it really depends on how I like how deeply this is affecting you. If it’s like, you know, but I feel like if it’s really an I’m gonna guess that because they brought it up here. It’s something that has affected them deeply, then it’s probably something you have to bring up because otherwise, like that issue festers, and you end up leaving, because it’s just like, You know what, everything else is fine, but I can’t deal with this. It’s making me feel bad. So yeah, like, that’s what motivated me to go ahead and say it’s like, look, I knew that if I didn’t, I couldn’t continue to be yelled at the way I was being yelled at at this place. Like,

Vitaly Sharovatov 53:46
I also once told my manager that my motivation is his to, essentially, if I am motivated, he gets more results. Please don’t spoil on motivation. But we’re

Brian Rinaldi 54:00
all right. Well, hopefully, it will. DJ Viking, D King, biking again. That’s the name of the person ask the question. Hopefully that advice was helpful to you. All right. Vitale, this was I think we could go on because this is a really great topic. I am hoping we have the opportunity to like dive into it more in the future. So I really appreciate to presenting to us at night on your vacation about a topic that I think is a difficult one to discuss. So all those things you deserve a lot of thanks for that. So

Vitaly Sharovatov 54:36
thank you so much for your kind words. Thank you so much. And thank you

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