It’s time to change something! How to determine the very “toxicity in the team” + comments from the engineer

6 min


Sometimes the daily routine is not the hardest part of everyday life. If at the exit from the office you get the feeling that a round of Fort Boyard has just ended, but Passepartout does not carry the key to the treasure, it may be due to a toxic command culture.

We talked with the QA engineer how the oppressive atmosphere, the bosses pushing for overwork, the company’s attempt to save money on an employee led to burnout. And they also collected tips on how to understand that you are not on your way with the team, and that it is time to change something.


The heroes of our articles tell that the corporate culture of foreign companies, for example, Uber, Booking and Spotify, is strikingly different from the Russian ones: the influence of a toxic team on well-being and productivity seems to be underestimated in our country.

But there is an impact: Harvard Business School conducted research on a sample of 60,000 employees. It turned out that:

  • a toxic environment has a statistically significant effect on a person,
  • 38% of people deliberately worked worse in order to avoid criticism,
  • 12% quit due to rough treatment.

By Elena, QA Auto

“I thought that it was worth changing jobs even after the probationary period. What angered me: the company did not fulfill what it promised at the interview. They said that they would issue a voluntary medical insurance – but in fact it turned out that with my salary level, voluntary medical insurance is not provided at all. Not that I was sick a lot, but after all, everything that was said to me at the reception turned out to be untrue.

In addition, there were a lot of nuances: constant emergency work, the boss insisted on overwork. I put too much effort into getting a job in this company, so I did not dare to leave right away: I tried to abstract myself from the boss.

There were advantages – the project as a whole was interesting to me, besides that, I was the only automator on the project, made decisions about testing processes, chose a stack, shared my experience as a mentor. So in a way, it was helpful to me. But the company’s consumer attitude towards employees greatly affects the desire to work – as a result, I was very burned out. The only thing that saved me was that I was not in the office, but at a distance, and in principle I could stand up for myself.

In my opinion, it’s time to think about quitting and look for a new job:

  1. If the processes in the company do not suit you, but you cannot influence the improvement of them or the product in any way – because they are not allowed to do so.
  2. If you feel that you have stopped developing professionally, and you yourself want something more.
  3. If the conflicts that happen in the team are not constructive, but destructive, and especially proceed in an implicit, passive form – that is, for example, they arise due to personal hostility. It is normal not to agree with someone in opinions, but only if these differences relate to some task, problem, and people are looking for a solution together. But in general, if there is a depressing atmosphere in the team, I would not advise you to endure. It could be better! “


7 signs of a toxic community

Toxic team culture is dangerous, at least because people wear out faster and, as a result, make more mistakes. Plus a toxic crop can lead to high tech debt and put the entire product at risk. We identify toxicants:

  1. No friendly atmosphere

    It is trite, but relevant: are people happy to work in this place? The atmosphere will be easier for a beginner to notice – employees get used to the situation and stop paying attention: the fish do not see how cloudy the water in the aquarium has become. If, looking into the office, you feel cold, there is no minimal communication, smiles, exchange of jokes – it seems that something is going wrong. people are not very happy to work in this place.

  2. Obsession with titles, job descriptions and hierarchy

    When meeting with a stranger, he first of all talks about his title. In a toxic environment, power for people is more important than the mission they carry out, and success is measured by status and “bonuses”, and certainly not by the level of trust in the team.

  3. Rules are everywhere and people are afraid to break them

    The rules are more important than the opinion of colleagues: even if it is based on years of experience or immersion in context. Formality rules, and people are afraid of getting into trouble for breaking the rules. Therefore, no one sticks out.

  4. Management versus employees

    A little more, and wall to wall: management and employees are clearly divided into two groups and rarely interact with each other. And if they interact, then they communicate unilaterally: there is no dialogue.

  5. Focus on weaknesses and weaknesses

    There is a lot of talk about violations, blunders and failures, but little about victories and achievements. Victory is not recognized, there is little feedback.

  6. No dialogue

    Impossible goals, suggesting ridiculous plans or frankly stupid ideas are not accepted to be discussed, they are taken for granted and employees passively agree to them. And later they complain in a narrow circle about their stupidity.

  7. There is no freedom of action when performing work

    The procedure is prescribed for everyone and is very clear. If people are praised for anything at all, it is for following instructions, not for new ideas. Proposing a change is one step closer to getting fired.

“It’s not always easy to understand that the team suits you right away. For a start, I would advise you simply not to endure and not bring to the state in which you found yourself. It was some kind of trap: there was no strength to work in the old place, and I was afraid to change jobs. After all, in a new company you want to be productive, to show yourself as a great specialist – and this is difficult to do when you burned out in the previous place. So I was a little scared to start. “

The same Harvard study states that the toxic team influences on the productivity of individual employees:

  • 80% of people feared toxicity from colleagues and spent their working time worrying,
  • 66% said their productivity had dropped.

A toxic environment is a topic that can be discussed and raised. But only the management can influence the situation; it will not be possible to change the structure of the whole team alone.

“But the main thing is not to despair! When I started looking for vacancies, it turned out that there are many companies where people are treated normally. Once again, I remembered how cool it is to be in the company of people who work together on one big mission, with whom you can grow as a professional – and it’s nice to chat after work too. It was very encouraging, I re-fired up the idea of ​​finding a comfortable place for myself.

When I was looking for a new job, initially, of course, I filtered by language and chose product companies – it’s more pleasant to develop your product.

But during the interview, I also paid attention to whether the processes are well-established, whether people are burning with their work, how they respond about what they are doing – it is very important for me to work in a team that inspires. I asked how the processes are arranged, how the team behaves if someone is not satisfied with the processes.

It is difficult for me to write a blank from the list of questions – I still need to be guided by the situation. But I can advise at this stage to ask a lot of questions: in general, you can understand a lot from communication. Even the hiring process itself says a lot about the company you are applying for. And in the company where I am now, there is also great onboarding: a new employee is not left aside, they conduct training to make it easier to join the routine – it seems to me that this approach speaks volumes.

I planned to work remotely: due to the pandemic, many companies that had not previously considered remote employees opened positions for them. Plus, the course jumped, I realized that with my experience I could get more. In my opinion, this is a good life hack: usually no one is looking for a job on New Year’s Eve, but I could not resist and applied for a couple of vacancies on December 28. I had my first interviews in early January, and in the second working week I already had offers.

I don’t like to open my resume to everyone on the Internet, and I like to choose the right positions myself. Therefore, the bot helped: everything is detailed, conveniently sorted, vacancies are compiled transparently. So I responded, and everything suited me. “

Thinking about changing jobs? In bot @g_jobbot you can post your resume and “feel the market”: check what salary a specialist with your experience can receive. It’s free: the bot will pick up vacancies and send them to Telegram.


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