You should not leave behind any person from your team. Even the one you don't like

22 February, 2023

1 min read

Last updated on 22 February, 2023

Before chasing ideas of 'perfect' team or 'perfect' team mates, learn to observe and notice what current team members are doing and how they contribute to team success.

There is a good Philoctetes story on that. To be short, Philoctetes has a good bow and used it with high success ratio. He helped to accomplish team's KPI.

Once, he was bitten by snake. The bite started to smell and put him in agony. His teammates started to be not satisfied with his performance.

So they decided to left him on a random island to die alone.

Ten years after, Greeks received a note from leadership (Gods) that without Philoctetes, they wouldn't win a war. His team went to the same island where left Philoctetes and searched him.

It's probably obvious, that Philoctetes told him to go fuck away, after they discovered him, right?

Points of the story:

  • don't measure everything with your imaginary performance rates. Life is not always about that.
  • relationships with people matter
  • actually, the relationships between people win the war, not your 'success' and 'performance' rates

And also my personal one: you may even win this war without your Philoctetes, but what's the point if you know, that you are person who can't respect yourself for what you've done.

I left people behind and a lot, so I'm not the perfect person to listen from on how you should not do that. I behaved (and probably still do) as selfish and egocentric person. So do you.

The only thing we both can do, try to do it less and, if possible and if you have an option to – take care about Philoctetes in your team.

Sometimes it's not visible that this person has a good bow and know how to shoot. If engineer doesn't write in Slack, it doesn't mean they doesn't contribute to the team.

That's why you should learn how to listen, observe and notice. If you don't know how listen and observe, you should find the person who is able to, and listen to them.

That's how you'd be in a perfect team with perfect teammates. Saying as person who is in a very nice team with very high-quality teammates (very subjective, but anyway). Give a read on Philoctetes story on Wikipedia.


Troy Köhler is Software Engineer living in Berlin, Germany with ~6 years of experience working in technology industry. He used to work in one of the biggest e-commerce product in Ukraine, and now works at Zalando which has more than 7 millions paying customers. He focuses his study and expertise on Rust language, complex backend systems, product development and engineering platforms.

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