I work in somewhat of a DevOps role with a team of professionals that for the most part are highly skilled, competent and easy to get along with. The biggest problem we face as a group is that recent layoffs of needed personnel, promotions of unneeded personnel, slashed funding for mission critical teams and endless money for projects of dubious value and sprinkle that with a complete lack of product ownership and leadership... all of these things have greatly wore onto the team morale to where things are just downright toxic.
Sometimes we get together as a group or go out to lunch together and I just want to have lunch and talk about non-work related things, get my mind clear of my projects and responsibilities and just unwind. The conversations almost always turn into discussions about serious heavy problems that we just aren't in a position to easily address. I try to mention that we should relax and not talk about work and everybody agrees, but then eventually things gradually turn back into discussions about incompetent leadership, lack of project management, lack of product management and political power plays.
I don't believe things are quite as bad as my colleagues perceive and they aren't focusing on the positive things about working here and what we have accomplished despite the systemic problems. When we get together and are motivated we are able to affect small positive changes from the ground up (sometimes). I don't want to stop going to lunch with my group but I find myself and my positive attitude being poisoned. I find myself losing hope and lacking motivation to come up with creative solutions.
Worse still there are a number of people on the team that feel the only long term solution is to not be exceptional at our jobs and stop filling in the gaps that are missing in business analysis, project management and product ownership. Their hope is that if we stop bridging the gap that the people in these roles that are supposed to be performing in these capacities will be seen as ineffective and will be replaced, but I am not sure this is how it would play out. I am almost positive that the blame and backlash would come back on us and we would continue to be punished more and more severely until things reach a breaking point. I don't see there being any winners in this scenario.
What is the best way to try to stay optimistic and positive and encourage optimism and positive attitudes in others on my team? How do I encourage my team members to step up and handle the non-technical messy parts that we are implicitly expected to do to keep the ship afloat? Perhaps I am wrong headed in my belief that we should be saving management and non-technical staff from themselves and that some of my colleagues are right?