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In my current job, I need to work in a team who I disagree a lot with. It starts with basic things, like how to track our tasks and ends in big things like the design of our application.

I know I cannot change who I am, but I would like advice on how I can at least commit to something I totally disagree with. I feel I cannot fight for a decision I disagree on.

Some details:

  • I am an external employee for a big financial company. The team consist mainly of other external employees and two internal employees.
  • The project is developed using SCRUM project management method. So I have to commit to the decisions the team makes, I'd like to achieve that and still be able to look in the mirror.
  • Can you give a more detailed example of supporting something you don't stand behind? That's still confusing to me. – thursdaysgeek Mar 6 '18 at 19:34
  • @thursdaysgeek I am strictly against multi column forms because they take longer to complete and are harder to scan. The team disagrees and just likes them optically more. – Knerd Mar 6 '18 at 19:36
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    If the team don't like multi-column forms but you do, what you're meant to do is run a-b testing and measure the different form performance. Maybe the team is right, and your users prefer multi-column, maybe you're right. random empirical studies from the internet don't matter - telling management "with this style, we get 75% more forms filled in/75% faster filled in/something" will win out. – bharal Mar 6 '18 at 21:58
  • Hi Knerd, I edited the question to make it clearer, and included a comment you made. To improve the question further, please edit it to explain what exactly "committing to a decision" means to you, in practical terms, and why you know / feel that this is expected of you. Why can't you just do the work and silently disagree? – sleske Mar 7 '18 at 8:20
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I'm going to be pretty blunt with this answer.

You're thinking about this in the wrong way. You think that your work in this company reflects on you. While this idea has some merit, it mostly isn't true.

The products you're developing are the company's sole property and the credit to them will go to said company.

You are working for this company and your only agreed-upon objective is helping the company achieve what they want. You should have no qualms about committing to your job, unless it's either:

  • Due to ethical reasons
  • Due to human safety reasons
  • You are dissatisfied with your job

If you can't do your job and maintain your self-respect, that means you are in the wrong job. Perhaps for the wrong company.

As a short term solution, all you have to tell yourself is that you're doing your job. You set out to help this company. You're doing it. That's great! It doesn't matter if it produces sub-optimal outcomes. That's not on you. That's on them!

Long-term, you need to look at the bigger picture. You need to push for change. You don't sound like you're in a high enough position to make the change yourself. Try to convince the people in those positions (without overstepping your bounds). If that doesn't work, shoot for those positions yourself (step one, follow the process at your current position). If you can't handle adopting this strategy for months (possibly years), you need to jump ship and go somewhere else where either:

  • You're able to influence decisions more
  • The decisions being made by others are more aligned with your viewpoints

Those are your options. If there's one takeaway from all this, is that no one is ever going to look down on you for being able to implement design decisions made by other people. It's a good skill to have, regardless of how bad the design ends up being.

Edit:

As a side-note, remember how change works. It's not instant. Even if you were an engineering executive at your company, and you tried to change a bunch of processes, you'll leave a lot of people very confused and frustrated in the exact same way OP feels right now (even if they are technically good changes).

If the people are good at what they do, things will continuously improve. Let it happen. If you expect too much, you'll always be as disappointed as you are right now, regardless of what company and job you work at.

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    Great answer, something like this my best friend always says 😄 So yeah, that is my strategy currently, but apparently they want me to support the decisions... – Knerd Mar 6 '18 at 18:35
  • "Support the decisions" is a little iffy. No company is allowed to tell you how to feel. This probably boils down to explaining what the design decisions are and why they were chosen. This task is only limited by your speaking skills. As a programmer, I could easily explain to anyone why I used GOTO statements, even though I and anyone with any knowledge on the subject could think of 300 hundred better ways to do it. – Clay07g Mar 6 '18 at 18:43
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    @Knerd Is it so hard to limit your disagreement to the inside of the team? That's what most companies are asking when they want you to support team decisions. I can have huge disagreements about things when talking to my fellow team members, but once we decide on something I can easily defend this decision to people outside of the team because I know what arguments were raised during the discussion. If people then argue, I say "I understand your point, but this is what the team has decided on for now. Let's see how things turn out." – Cronax Mar 7 '18 at 8:55
  • @Cronax Exactly what I was thinking. If you are having trouble defending arguments that don't make sense to you, you can always tell the outsider to talk to one of your colleagues who made the argument in the first place. – David K Mar 7 '18 at 13:26
  • Great answer. You can probably drop the opening line that says you will be blunt. Your answer isn't blunt at all, except for the one sentence immediately following that (and even that is debatable). You also don't need to put meta-information (such as Edit) when you edit your answer, so consider dropping that. If you are ok with it, I can make a few minor edits to your answer (without changing the essence of your answer, of course). – Masked Man Mar 7 '18 at 15:05
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New Answer First, based on your update

Ok I see your problem. You aren't great at communicating. The comment you left -

I am the frontend designer so I do a lot of research about how an application is efficient. And that research is ignored and personal preferences win. About the other example, we use post-it to track our tasks.

is fine, but it's the kind of critical information that you need in your actual question. You need to work on your social skills, which is more than just talking to people but being able to understand what they mean when they say something. Which lets you find common ground, and makes your case stronger.

My guess is you left the above out because you think it's not important to the idea of being able to do something you disagree with, but it actually is. See, there is no answer to "do something you strictly don't like" other than

  • don't do it
  • just do it

Then there's the "find something about it you like about it" angle. But that assumes that there is something you like - which is unclear from your question, but clear from your comment.

What you need to do then is this:

  • consider working with people who need the solutions you like (aka job hunt). This makes doing what you're doing now easier - you're just doing it until you find a job you love!
  • Propose that part of your solutions get implemented. This lets you stay happy, while the whole team is also happy (because you're happy too!). Also gives you ownership of the code. This is a management issue though.

There is actually a question about point 2 elsewhere on this site - can i find it? Yes i can! Increasing ownership is a key step to increasing productivity, you can have a read and talk to your manager about this. This is then no longer about technical over-optimisation, which managers don't have time for. It's about increasing productivity and team participation through process change, which managers very much do care about.

Probably would make for a good question on this site, too, really, on how to best express this.

Old Answer Next, paraphrased

You need to focus on what you do have control of. Refactor code, it's a fast way to running the team, because you're the only person who has touched everything.

Critique Your Question!

I'm not sure what you disagree with. You responded by pointing out that post-it notes aren't cool, and that you want to optimise the front end.

I'll tell you this much - Kanban is my preferred way for high-performance teams to run, it's much more fun and encourages group participation. I strongly suggest you drop your opposition to Kanban, to fit into the team. You won't win people over by being an outsider! Also, honestly read about Kanban, it's really quite good.

  • About the questions, you have, I am the frontend designer so I do a lot of research about how an application is efficient. And that research is ignored and personal preferences win. About the other example, we use post-it to track our tasks. I am the only one who cannot really work with that and would highly prefer a digital approach. – Knerd Mar 6 '18 at 18:11
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    I like the advice you give about changing things at OP's current workplace by using business terms. However, it seems OP is using scrum, not kanban (there are differences). And I agree with him on post-it notes. There are hundreds of digital tools for both scrum and kanban, as well as any other agile methodology. Physical boards are fine, but it's 2018 and there needs to be a digital trace so that employees can interact with their process from their workstation without it being a pain. – Clay07g Mar 6 '18 at 20:05
  • @Clay07g i guessed at Kanban based on the post-its. i always thought kanban was agile+postits+whiteboard! but i'm no expert on it. i've never understood why anyone would say there are digital options for kanban, when the whole point is the physicality of moving the post it note. it's (agile, scrum, etc) about talking and creating a shared environment for team members, not having them all sitting at a desk. i've always felt the need "to make it digital" just breaks that – bharal Mar 6 '18 at 21:52
  • @bharal It's all up to interpretation and implementation. However, dragging and dropping a digital note and picking up an placing a piece of paper makes no difference to me. The latter just wastes a lot more time. It depends on the team, of course, but most of the Agile Implementations I've seen are meant specifically to increase communication yet decrease time spent in doing things not associated with the projects (long meetings, over-planning, etc). For some people, physical notes might improve efficiency. For most people, they won't. Agile simply prefers whatever works best for improvement. – Clay07g Mar 6 '18 at 23:14
  • @bharal: Yes, some people feel physical notes are better than digital ones. However, if you ever have people working remotely, physical notes just aren't a realistic option, and I don't think it makes sense to drop remote work because of this. – sleske Mar 7 '18 at 8:23
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With all respect,

Thinking as a team, if there really is a way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the work, you must present your suggestions with great respect. But it is important that you do this first to your own team before presenting it to higher levels.

However, you must respect the decision of your team. If you do not share ... remember that everywhere you work you will probably have problems. Even though you own the company, you will have to respect the majority of your team.

I said respect, because you probably fill things up differently from most people ... and that's amazing.

But remember what keeps you in the job market, are the networks of relationships and accepting the decision of other people is fundamental, for your growth as a professional.

Everything always comes at the right time, I wish you luck!

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You need to understand that you don't have to agree with a team decision in order to be able to respect it. This isn't a thing you do so much as it is approaching it with a different mindset.

I'd like to achieve that and still be able to look in the mirror.

If this isn't just a bit of throw away hyperbole then this is a telling statement about how you are viewing things - this is not something that should be affecting you even remotely as deeply as it seems to be! How a form is implemented or how tasks are tracked are not things that are big moral issues and things that reflect on who you are as a person. It's not like you are being asked to perform cruel human experimentation!

The ability to be flexible and to compromise is critical to working in teams so this could be severely career limiting if you can't find a way to reconcile the fact that sometimes when working with others you are going to have to go along with things that aren't the way you would do them. I don't mean this to sound harsh but I've worked with developers (and other tech disciplines) who thought/worked the way you did and they were, without exception an utter nightmare to work with. Don't be that guy/girl!

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