The Seven Deadly Sins

These personality traits destroy engineering projects:

  1. Stupidity is the most obvious toxic personality trait found on this list.  Engineers of this caliber leave a trail of destruction wherever they go.  Under qualified for all but the most basic tasks, ill-equipped to solve problems, repeatedly makes the same mistakes, requires constant hand-holding 1
  2. Hubris is harder to spot because the possessor’s swagger acts as a cloaking device.  Eventually the weight of repeated faulty assumptions catches up.  Known for diving headfirst down rabbit holes and not pulling back until after the damage is done.  Frequently the naysayer, stands in the way of practical solutions in favor of counter proposals with snowball chances in hell.
  3. Sloth a.k.a the sandbagger. Tasks of critical importance somehow are never their responsibility.  First to give up, known for coming in late, leaving early and disappearing for long periods of time.  Taken alone, they cost, but one resource. Beware the sandbagger however, their presence Demotivates.
  4. The Over-extender is the least undesirable due to good intentions.  Doesn’t know how to say ‘no’.  They hurt projects because of bottlenecks created by unfinished tasks.
  5. The nitpicker can’t shut up.  Feels the need to speak the truth in spite of the greater good.  Their constant stream of disparaging comments damages morale.  Worst when found in the leaders; the spawned negativity permeates the atmosphere with fear and dampens creativity.
  6. The micro manager will expect a detailed explanation for everything under the sun.  Has an obsessive need to stay informed about every nuance.  Can be dangerous in a crisis, delaying first responders when their presence is most needed.
  7. Fear a.k.a. Elmer the FUD, is stuck in the past.  To say Elmer’s overly conservative is an understatement.  Frightened by anything new and blocks innovation reflexively.
  8. Bonus: The Firestarter, a.k.a. gaslighter, ignites the workplace with artfully applied little jabs. Twisting words of coworkers seen as rivals into insults, just for kicks. One way to counter is to play dumb and have them repeat, “Sorry, I don’t understand what you mean… What did you say?”


1. We’re not talking about trainees here. Professionals with many years of experience and incapable of functioning without help within their core competencies.

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