Fucked Up Dev Culture Part 1

Here's a great way to send mixed signals to your new dev team members.
I've seen this happen about 10x during my time on this dev team.

What Happens

  1. New team member starts on Monday.
  2. Senior team members tell the new member:
    "Hey, we have a custom on our team for when someone joins the team. They buy us donuts. Everybody has done it so far." 🍩
  3. It's no big deal 'cause when a team member leaves, we also tell them that they gotta buy donuts then too.
  4. Other team members shrug their shoulders.
  5. "Oh you don't have to if you don't want to."

Mixed Signals

The new team member, in all likelihood, wants to fit in. This is a new team for them, a new building, a new set of interactions, and they're expecting and anticipating something new and exciting for them in their career.

Acceptance should be offered, not purchased.

This donut coercion puts some fucked up subtle pressure on the new team member:

  1. You fit in by buying donuts. Everyone else has done this. This is what's gotta be done.
  2. It's kind of a hazing ritual. It's presented as this is what's been done before as part of our team culture. This team has no culture.
  3. It's backwards: it's the new member buying acceptance rather than the existing team members offering acceptance.

When the new team member brings the donuts, I politely decline and tell them that I don't participate in guilt donuts.

The fucked up thing: these senior team members joined the team 10+ years ago. They don't leave the team. The team has all its turn-over in the entry level positions, but none in the senior positions.

Their goal seems to me is to amuse themselves with free donuts as team members enter and exit. It's steady stream of treats.

What Should Happen

  1. New team member starts on Monday.
  2. Senior team members tell the new member:
    "Welcome! We bought donuts 🍩 for the team to celebrate you in your new position"! or "Welcome! Hey, we're walking to Starbucks, what do you like there?"!
  3. A discussion ensues about what challenges that person's role has, how the team members see the new team member contributing to the success of the team's customers, etc.
  4. People then build bonds based on the generosity shown by the existing members who have extended a welcome to the new person.