By May 7, 2015

My Coworkers Suck, What Should I Do?

In this episode, I answer an email about working in a toxic environment and not getting along with the team.


Full transcript:

John:               Hey, this is John Sonmez from and today I’ve got another email. You can see that I'm trying a new set up here with my videos so you’ll have to let me know if you like this. I'm actually having someone professionally do the video, no longer am I … If you remember when I first started out I was starting out with just a webcam and then I sort of learned how to use a digital camera and now taking it to the next level here. Good news is for all of you that were complaining about the audio problems with the lapel mic brushing against my shirt we shouldn’t have that problem.

I’ve got an email here from Gari and Gari says, “Already a long time I have been following your blog posts and videos along with that I read your soft skills book 2 months ago and posted a nice review on Amazon. I appreciate your vision on lots of subjects and themes and for me really valuable opinion, that’s why I’m writing you now.

“When I joined my current company the development had assigned me in one of his teams and first thing he said was, I want to have someone in this team who I can trust technically and also there’s a lack of leadership in this team. It appears to me really suspicious when he also added in the end that guys in the team are nervous and have these kinds of problems. I’ve been working in this team already 6 months and I completely understood what my boss means by these strange sentences in the first day.

“I don’t blame anyone but my team members are really unreliable technically and what is really bad is that 3 of the members have depression and issues with being nervous. They often fight each other when something goes wrong and start blaming each other immediately.”

He goes on to say, “I’ve plan to ask my boss to change the team, however I remember what he said in my first day when I joined the company therefore I don’t know how to behave. In one hand, I don’t want to let down my boss due to the hope he has in me that I can somehow improve the situation, but on the other hand it is hell for me to work with them everyday. As a result, my motivation has started to drop and I count the hours when I’ll be finish working the day. Can you please give me some suggestions on how I should solve this situation?”

Gari, this is definitely a difficult situation. I would say that it’s kind of what I would call a toxic environment and in that kind of environment you have a chance to step up and to become someone who becomes a leader and changes things around or you should get out, but you need to choose one of those things. If you’re going to step up then you need to change your attitude about the whole environment. If you think that this is a toxic work environment and you’re counting the hours and you’re looking for all the negatives you’re going to find them. If you start becoming the positive person that is looking at all the positives that’s always trying to help people and ignoring all their faults then you’re going to be the kind of person that might be able to transform an entire organization.

Obviously that’s not an easy task and it takes time. Sometimes it might not even be possible. You might be embarking on a kind of mission that’s never going to have success but if you want to rise to the occasion it could be worthwhile. I would probably give it a chance to try it. If you’re not going to do that, if you’re basically just going to try and live it out, then just get off the team now because you’re going to waste a lot of your time and your energy and you’re not going to be effective unless you can go all the way one direction.

That’s my answer really I would say to you is either pick one of those things. Think about it hard because if you do go the route of trying to be that example you’ve got to realize that you might not be successful, but if you are it could end up being really good for you. Yeah, that’s it. Hopefully you can figure out your situation. Don’t worry so much about letting someone down. I mean if you’re in what’s really a toxic situation and you feel like there’s no escape from that then there’s no harm in bailing out of there rather than wasting a huge amount of time. That’s what I would say.

Thanks for sending this question. If you have a question and you want me to answer it, just email me at and let me know how you like this new video set up and don’t forget to subscribe to the channel. Take care.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."