I manage two small software development teams at a remote site of a large, multinational corporation. Focusing on one of them, it consists of:
- "A", a senior software developer who joined under 3.5 months ago.
- "B", a senior software developer who joined 1.5 months ago.
- "C", a product owner who will join next week
- "D", a junior intern who joined over 6 months ago
The business that we support, as well as the extended global technology team (including my direct manager and all of my immediate colleagues), is located overseas, near the company's headquarters.
Although A and B are both senior software developers, A's role and background is more geared to functional problem solving using statistical methods (Machine Learning specifically), while B's is more geared toward the technical problems around infrastructure and technical robustness. However, they both have a significant amount of overlap in background, and I encourage them not to work in silos, especially since the team is small. Although they have only been working together for a bit over a month, they seem to have a good working relationship.
I have been planning a 2-week business trip for myself, A, and C, to take place in about a month. The goals would be:
- For C, to meet with their overseas counterpart, learn the details of the business and the product, as well as meet with users of the software to understand how it is currently used, challenges, proposed improvements, etc.
- For A, the goals are similar, but to focus more closely on the various data points available within the product, and to get insight on how best to use that to problem-solve.
- For myself, to help guide and participate in these conversations and meetings, as well as to work on the other team that I manage.
In addition, for all of us, the trip provides the opportunity for building in-person relationships with our global counterparts, which helps with the more intangible teamwork that is critical for developing in a globally-distributed environment.
We don't travel frequently, and a trip like this is generally considered to be a "perk" (fly business class, stay in a nice hotel, reasonable per diem, get to meet with the people that we work with, etc.). Any travel that we do needs (of course) to be justifiable, and will reduce the budget for any future travel that year across our whole group (several hundred people).
At this point, I don't see a clear justification to send B on this trip. Firstly, because their role is less people-centric, so in-person meetings are less important for them. Secondly, the marginal benefit in sending both of the software developers, rather than just one, does not justify the cost (it is an expensive trip). There would be some value in their traveling, but not nearly as much, and it would be hard to justify. It would also be very expensive to request budget for 4 people to travel at once (even 3 is pushing it).
B has confronted me, and told me that s/he feels "left out" by the plan. How can I respond in a way that will keep them feeling that their role is important and that I value them?
One approach that I am considering is to "breach policy" and have us all fly economy (12 hour flights), although that might cause resentment by the others and set a precedent for future trips.