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I just started a new job 3 months ago as a team lead of a completely new small team of new people that are also new in the company. Everybody else in the company has been here for several years and they all love it but me and my team are having hard time adjusting to the new reality we’re facing. It’s hard for me personally to stay motivated and it’s even harder to keep my team motivated that everything’s going to be better.

Let me try to summarize:

  • Lack of procedures and any documentation - they don’t document anything, if you want to know what is considered the right way to do something here, you ask someone who’s been there longer. Different people say different things when asked the same question. I tried to be proactive and suggested writing those definitions and procedures for my team and any new people as long as we all sit together and agree on it but nobody agreed.

  • If I ask why something is done in way X, I often get answers "because we do it this way!". I am being very careful not to criticize anything and don't ever suggest changing it, I just ask a question if there is a reason for this to be done in a certain way (because it's often not the way recommended by best practises).

  • The work we’re hired to do is not ready to be started yet. Turns out we’re months away from starting it (and this was not communicated on the interview process). My team is given some work nobody wants to do and at the beginning I was happy we can at least start building team spirit and get used to working together. But actually what happens is that everyone keeps repeating to me personally and each of my team member how unimportant this piece of work is and it doesn’t matter. Even if this is true this being said once or twice is enough, being repeated every single day you’re doing work that’s considered practically useless can break even the most optimistic spirit.

  • We’re all being treated as the new people who know nothing. While this is true for company-specific stuff (but we’re catching up) none of my team members is unexperienced in our field of work. I have several years experience as a team lead and many more in general, same is valid for my team members. We’re all treated as if we have no past beyond this company and know nothing. While I agree they should be careful with work new people do, me and my team are being treated as potential troublemakers who can break anything they touch and in my previous jobs I haven’t even treated interns this way! I am very puzzled why I am hired at all if somebody thinks I’m incapable of doing my job.

I tried to raise my concerns with my manager directly and he only says that we’re being new and too worried if we’re doing good on a new job. I tried explaining that this is not the case and we just want to feel useful and capable not to proof ourselves but to be able to do what we’re hired to do and have confidence for ourselves but seems like nobody outside my team sees this as a problem.

Questions: How do I communicate better the situation with management or should I just wait for this to pass? Is there a way to keep better motivation in my team in this situation?

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  • What kind of autonomy you have to assign tasks? Maybe you would benefit from working less on tasks you see as useless and more on documenting, team-building, or even developing tools for the incoming project. – Ramon Melo Oct 11 '20 at 5:07
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I tried to be proactive and suggested writing those definitions and procedures for my team and any new people as long as we all sit together and agree on it but nobody agreed.

Just do it, it's your team. I've found that if asking for permission doesn't work then in the absence of anyone in authority outright saying not to, I just go ahead do it and move forwards.

being repeated every single day you’re doing work that’s considered practically useless can break even the most optimistic spirit.

Nip this in the bud, it's unprofessional and as you say bad for morale. Tell them you're just doing the tasks set, if they have an issue you're the wrong person to be taking it up with and let your manager know. Your manager is supposed to be your buffer between your team and the rest of the World. If someone is continually hassling your team or putting them down they need to take care of it.

"You're telling the wrong person, we just do the tasks given to us. Tell ZXY (the manager)."

We’re all being treated as the new people who know nothing.

So get your team doing something constructive and proving their expertise like point one above. You just walked in the door, you don't automatically get professional respect in many companies until you have shown some skills.

If you can't just wait it out, then really be proactive and take ownership of building a solid groundwork for your team.

Lastly, don't let the petty actions of others dictate your morale and you will always come out ahead in the long run. At least to yourself, and that's all that matters. As lead you set the example in terms of morale and professionalism. So proactively train yourself to be immune to frustration. It just leads to bitterness and other nastiness, none of which are pleasant or useful.

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    I read it as other people are telling OP's team the work they're doing is unimportant. – Monstar Oct 10 '20 at 10:36
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    @Monstar you might be right, I'll modify my answer as that does change the flavour a lot – Kilisi Oct 10 '20 at 11:13
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Well, there are a few issues and they're quite different regarding your original question.

  1. Company processes. You can try keep pushing them to change the documentation, ways of working. This can be done via concrete examples, what are the gains for the company, your personal and team experiences.
  2. Toxic workplace. You and your team being treated as juniors, being repeated that your contribution sucks is a textbook example of a toxic workplace. You may want to reconsider working for this company.
  3. Your job. It seems that a company mislead you about the actual work you're going to be doing, so this is a red flag too IMHO. I advise you to check the company, reviews, ask questions in interviews, ask future colleagues and or friends so this would not happen again in a new company.

You could try to wait, see if situation changes, also one idea would be to talk to the people that work there longer and see from their perspective why they love the job, maybe they do but for all wrong reasons. Also I would reconsider if I want to work for that company if situation does not change.

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