The Monster on the Project

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The Monster on the Project
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Abusive behavior can have profound effects on personal relationships but it can also make open source contributing and office life miserable. For those stuck in a team with co workers who exhibit toxic behavior, going to work every day can feel like going to a battlefield. Knowing how to identify and how to respond to unreasonable behavior is vital. In this talk we will look at the ways we can improve our office and FOSS communities by recognizing, managing and gracefully removing this toxic behavior. Take away: What abuse looks like How it affects those around it Steps to take if you are the target of abusive behavior How to manage toxic people in your project.
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have for last Saturday's strange energy up to stay awake phenotypic common stand talk about so as many lovely hosts laughter introduced me I and tips here talk about monsters and projects and United what about that you problem place you might wanna try door and if my clicker will work we can get started 7 I'm
since and this is how I imagine myself when I'm on stage to try and avoid In the nerves and stress and fear about all of you out there so if you would also like to mention me as a little demo come monster appear I'm more than happy to to claims that currently I work and at Intel and will I work with Intel as I'm not doing security assessment of the book open source software that they wanna use and house and the software that they create that they want to shout to the open source community and that's based out hills from and I am originally from scotland so you may hear a little bit of an accent comes through and just kind of smiled I have heard and at 24 I left a career to it and you need for the 1st time the city computer security friends and ethical hacking and the career that I left was actually in a job and I had no idea at the time that I would use the skills and knowledge that I picked up in a jar more often In this my current job and in the open source community than I ever did when I was doing a job of time but that's how it is and so quickly you know it helps if you turn it on
and so the fluoride is attack and before I went to a charter if I had any inkling at all that I would not grow up to train dolphins to speak English I was scared this is going school pretty much every day from about 7 years old until graduation I hated school not that like learning a lovely and look at how many things every day and it's great I hated school because I was really badly believe and as a result I had poor grades had poor attendance was always effect and I wasn't really sad to lonely child and I don't know how to do that don't learning how to do long division and maybe that's why I'm not very good at it but I do remember in vivid detail the 1st day the other kids started throwing rocks at me from the bus what do the the
when I wasn't reading every fact fantasy and sci-fi novel I could find I spent my youth dreaming about being helped and escaping my unhappiness at school I thought when I grew up I wouldn't have to do with police I can believe all of that graduation get my diploma and go on to bigger and better things I could actually start my life
and I worked at kind of the talk was 23 and I certainly job doing insurance repair administration I mean it wasn't the most exciting of things but my boss must cents to blood in the water because it didn't take long for start picking on me 1 was started as small complaints about my work making up rules that didn't exist for everybody else soon escalated to him isolating me in the conference room and berating me and how I broke down in tears was horrible I even an adult but I felt like I was 8 all overhead I was back in school and somehow I still lack the knowledge and skills to deal with this bowling I knew what he was doing was wrong but I couldn't find my voice to speak up I felt trapped this is really not uncommon at all In fact toxic behavior
is a known problem in the workplace has been for a while and unfortunately statistics show that that problem is only growing now look current studies are focused on workplace educational environments up as a result of the language that we use here is mainly focused on these environments however and toxic behavior is a concern and can presenting any environment where people cohabitate or collaborate mean right with any of you be surprised to know that I've heard stories about toxic behavior and in a free and open source and environments projects yeah so was that when I was majority and investigating complaints I was here for managers and project lead all the time that the over and over again they say so if a couple coupled difficult people on the project there the high performers there the rock stars they're the ones who get things done well study show that no matter how well a toxic personality performance their behavior drags down the performance of the team to below what it would have been without them they actually negate any performance boost . management or anybody else may think that they provide the team but why is that well being bullied as
is the case when I was a child induces stress anxiety depression and a host of other physical and psychological medical issues for those who were the target and news Jody studies show that it can even create form of post-traumatic stress disorder like that seen among soldiers returning from war more concerning vote is a study showing that stress that that the stress of bullying may actually lead to bad decision making In 2009 a study found that stressed out rats fail to adapt to changes in their environment a portion of the brain actually shrunk compared to the same region In relaxed rats let's think about that for a moment their brains actually changed as a result of the stress that they were experiencing and these findings suggest that stress may actually rewire the brain in creates an inability to make good decisions and maybe this is why we seen people who are abused by their partners that they returned to them over and over again before escaping the cycle of abuse now it's not easy
to speak out 1 person is being targeted by toxic behavior and abuse can have horrible effects on self-esteem and often it starts so mildly that we convince ourselves that were mentioning it but even when we do speak up more often that With this belief or victim blaming or gas lighting or because we're the ones speaking up were treated as the person who's a problem sometimes fired from the worst cases are when people take their lives because they see no other escape and that happens more often than you think that's for people who stay in hostile environments community it took me a while to understand what was happening to me when I was being bullied in that 1st workplaces situation that ever said I been very willing to leave companies and projects at the 1st red flag that this might happen again and turnovers 4 teams of talks personalities are higher than in those teams without it the high turnover is a problem both for business and for FOSS projects the company's it's expensive there's a lot of expense and man-hours lost in recruiting interviewing and training new employees on top of that new employs typically have a 4 to 6 months spin up period before they're actually able to perform a full productivity outside of this there's reputation costs and the hidden morale of the remaining team members I actually want work to a company the had a betting pool on how long new employees were going to last it wasn't a very welcoming environment and you can bet as soon as I found that out atom errors back a market and is looking for a new job because I don't wanna be there the toxic environment had become such a core component of the work culture that they were unable to see that was actively sabotaging their efforts to improve fast projects can also suffer from reputation loss as well as potentially losing new and existing contributors FOSS projects risk losing the undocumented tribal knowledge that members take with them when they leave I think we all know companies in projects that we wouldn't even consider working with mean we still have over dealing with the fallout of the last half a year or more and will certainly taken a reputation in the last couple weeks the the so we know the
consequences but what exactly is the problem what is toxic behavior and how do we recognize it when we know we have a problem the the
well for employees and contributors the there are lots of forms of bullying an obvious and in the really difficult for me to cover them all here but in a survey that was carried out recently the most common reported signs of bullying included being falsely accused of mistakes that didn't make the comment's being ignored or or dismissed are not acknowledged having a different set of standards or policies applied to them are applied to anybody else DOS being spread about them or not being stopped by the manager being constantly criticized by the boss or co-worker belittling comments that were made about the work during meetings and fun of other people being yelled out but the manager in front of other people perhaps there purposely excluded from projects or meetings or credit for the work has been stolen lastly and they were picked on for personal attributes these are all things that for the most part against code convex but can sometimes be hard to pinpoint so what about from an employer or project we perspective well my personal experiences that people could treat others downstream poorly or who poured knowledge that are potentially toxic personalities studies show that employees who are over confident or self-centered are more likely to have a cup toxic personality traits the but was surprising about the same study was that they found that people who believe that rule should always be followed were more likely to exhibit toxic the researchers hypothesized that this was due to the subject's timely interview what they thought they wanted to hear and they said it could be the case that those who claim the rule should be followed In all cases are more masculine in nature purporting to embrace whatever rules characteristics or believes that they believe or more likely to obtain them the job and there is a strong evidence that Machiavelli's leads to to deviant behavior the the it's also important that the employer and project lead look at the behavior of the team members around a potentially toxic persons stress will often affect time management skills ability to focus on health and cause burnout and if the behavior of an employee or project member alter suddenly really the 1st step should be to talk to them proactively and see what's going on maybe they're not being bowling maybe they just have something going on their personal life but talking to you talking to me about it will help you know what's going on and will help them because sharing is always a good way to help relieve a lot of abstracts but the important part the kind a 2nd step there is if you ask somebody what's going on for them how they're doing you really need actually listen to them it doesn't do any good task and and not observed that the thing that a lot of us have experienced the feeling of talking to somebody without actually feeling heard
so now that we've identified the problem how do we fix it form
pleasing contributors it can be really difficult the best course of action is to stay professional the don't reciprocate disengage were possible journal the incidents exteriors that just get a piece of paper and start writing things down it'll keep straight in your mind and give you a record so you can refer to it later on and I know that for me it really helps when I feel like the person that I'm dealing with has an alternate experience of events as sometimes happens and especially with gas lighting and which is the process to me telling you that something you experienced in happen the way that you experience that talk manager or stage person I'm your manager and in for and fast situations can be a little bit more difficult because it always that hierarchy um in small projects and but talk to somebody else in the community and start kind is asking seeing if other people are experiencing the same thing you are if no action is taken it may be time for you to look for your next opportunity but more importantly talk to your friends and your family and start engaging on that network of support that you have and share your experiences and if you have time and resources if the bullying or toxic behavior is really affecting you badly consider seeking therapy being helped you through we address the person
who is exhibiting toxic behavior and it's sad to but important to acknowledge the that extreme in extreme cases expulsion for the group is a step that may become necessary people have to want to change and to be able to adapt to new expectations and as much as we might want them to and we might want to we can't fix everybody that's I think that expulsion should really be like in a last-ditch no options left decision there's a lot to be done that can be done to try and reform a person who is exhibiting toxic behavior now you might ask what the point of that would be the bring down the whole team the but the In response that I'd like to
say that assholes are people too and like all people they deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion and so the show that actually the reformation of an offender is more productive and less disruptive to the group the project is we lose the tribal knowledge that that person has and the injured parties are actually will actually benefit from going through the resolution process and getting closure rather than just having the the issue go unaddressed because the person is now gone it may not surprise you that adults are actually a lot like a big children perhaps no I am do a lot of the tactics that a manager of a project lead can employ to tame toxic behavior are ones that we learned from parenting books the end goal is finding a new way to motivate the worker the can the very basis of things there are 2 ways of doing this the carrot and stick offering reward for good behavior and a negative actions for poor behavior the the trick is learning which rewards and punishments will motivate which workers and is maybe differ for everybody's there's a little bit of trial and error all it's also important throughout the process to be incredibly clear about which behaviors are unacceptable and that they must stop immediately I have seen time and time again when I was an a are people who would be Brian and told that their behavior was unacceptable listen to the letter of the rule of the line and did the bare minimum the totally would rules where exactly what they could and could not do and would actually kind of try and skirt that line just to spite the person that was enforcing the rules or sometimes a person that reported them so can be really important to watch out for that type of behavior does take work from everybody involved the organization of the person and the team but it can also be really really rewarding the to got an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure 7 behavior expectations fright right from the beginning with the code of conduct or a set of project values is going to stop behave bad behavior before it starts or at least provide an expectation and around that a robust framework needs to be put in place to support members when they feel that they've experienced bullying fostering good communication skills and and providing a safe environment for people to talk about feelings in conflict conflict resolution is also really vital the and look at the learning and communication styles as a team because we all communicate differently we all learn differently and sometimes these mismatches can cause friction and learning how to deal with that and how to communicate through that is a good way of stopping conflict before it happens teach conflict resolution skills and you statements like when you say blank I hear blank Is that what you meant it can be really I did way to remove an this feeling of being personally attacked and removed and stop somebody from feeling the need to get defensive about something they etc. action that they've done an also don't paralyzed people for needing to take a break from difficult conversations people here overwhelmed and everybody in the office or the project should be able to say OK I need 5 minutes or I need over time overnight to think about this and let's come back to this conversation tomorrow it doesn't mean that the issue is resolved or that were not gonna talk about anymore and that people do you often need to take take time away and I I'm definitely this kind of person where when I'm a confrontation and often it'll get too emotional for me and I need to take time away to uh sort through what's going on in my brain and what what I'm experiencing versus what's happening the and in the wider community we need to value soft skills not just putting abilities all these things I'm talking about a conflict resolution communication is all soft skills that take time to develop when we brush bad behavior under the rug just because somebody is a really great coder were doing a disservice to everyone including that person because were denying them the chance to grow and improve as a person more than that we as a community need to talk about this problem and call out for behavior when we see it we're getting there but there's still a lot of room to grow but the and are communities also
need to make an active effort to discuss mental health often mental health issues are actually the root of toxic behavior and especially unaddressed mental health issues and if mental health was not a taboo topic people would feel more free to talk about the problems of their experiencing and seek help am I'm actually advocate of the open-source met open sourcing mental health charity and which seeks to raise awareness and actually educate people about mental health issues and within the and open source community they provide resources companies projects and people who are struggling with mental health issues and the is really an incredibly helpful in full a lot of really great information so I would highly recommend that you go have a lot and these are some
for further resources and I'd like to take a
moment to think jingle confer having me and I'd like to thank everybody here for being so quiet and attentive definitive fantastic audience so does anybody like this cat have
questions thank so the person to whom of confronting and users can be a scary thing for the person of to the confrontation definitely can do you have any tips on how to deal with that sort of thing to get yourself to a point where you can confront and I think that talking to others and taking somebody with you can be really valuable and N H are we we always I think we in British H R and when we're having disciplinary action or even some kind of serious talk with an employee and employer manager we always encourage the employee to bring somebody with like just just somebody there to be a witness because then if something happens if somebody says something inappropriate then you got somebody there who who also heard it and it is less of the less of a he said she said kind of situation and that also it it can be really good for and the person who's making the complaint to be able to have that extra person there just to know they're not alone can sometimes that and that gets me every time feeling like alone and something and the having somebody there with you or even and sometimes I've had I've seen people write down their concerns I'm having a piece of paper in front of you and I am guilty this all the time I might bring goes blank is a having a piece of paper that can it has all the points I want to make a family can be really helpful and and know that the this year and the stress is temporary and that once you can get at all out there and start that conflict resolution situation and things will get better and it may not in the way that you want to but at least that that feeling of being in limbo will be over you mentioned that sometimes it's necessary to remove someone from from the group of how do you know or like do you have any parameters and you can use to say this person has been given the opportunity to change but it's time to remove them because the I think that and there are a lot of variables a lot of it depends on what type of behavior the person's exhibiting a lot of it depends on how well and how sincerely they're trying to improve and a lot of it also is up the group and how how much of the stress and conflict that the group can actually itself handle and I've certainly seen situations where we had somebody who is really great but we just at that time didn't have structure or the support necessary in order to include them in part of it as part of the group but that didn't mean they wouldn't be welcome future when we did have those resources available but sometimes it is just a a determination of what resources are available and how willing the person is to really try improve but if you have a specific an incident that you'd like to talk about I'm happy to discuss that with you later and that's not all the time we have questions so thank you very much again to is thinking that that if my
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