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I've just joined the new company. There are few developers team, and each of them is responsible for another part of the product. I'm the engineering manager of the one of teams.

The problem I'm facing is that my team claims that their work is not important. One of the members said that we are "a junk team". It's because other teams are working on some awesome features, my team is working on our homepage. I think the scope is not as exciting as in "product team".

Have you any idea how to increase the self-esteem of the team?

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    Well, the first question: is your team's work as important as those on the other teams? Answer honestly, not with your manager hat on. Commented Sep 1, 2022 at 15:01
  • What are typical things the team works on? Does the team do a lot of manual busy work? Bug fixes, maintaining links, etc? In my company the team maintaining the home page, was one of the most interesting teams to work on.
    – Helena
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 6:35
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    funny, I knew a webpage team which had a very high opinion of themselves, because they build what all the users use, and that actually generates income for the company. they thought they were the most important team. And other teams had interesting Machine Learning, Data Science and other stuff going on...
    – Benjamin
    Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 8:07

4 Answers 4

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If it really is about importance then you can address this by taking the angle that the home page is, by it's very nature, extremely important as the "first impression" the site makes. But I think the real issue here is not that the work is not important, but that it's not as exciting, interesting, or as glamourous as adding an awesome new feature, and if I'm right then the chances are they're right. The thing is most companies don't really care about whether a business need is "exciting", it's still a business need and they just want it done, and they aren't really wrong there.

Probably the best approach there is to be honest, you understand that the work isn't the most exciting but that it is important to the company and that it needs doing. That it isn't some form of punishment or judgement against them - the business is going to value a team's good work on their home page just like they would on something more technically exciting and that you'll see what opportunities are available for getting the team more exciting projects in the future. Make it clear that if they're doing good work you're going to be their biggest cheerleader. Don't promise anything you can't keep - so promising to try is better than promising to get and risk disappointing them, as this would only serve to demoralize them further.

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  • I have generally gotten into the habit of taking a team out for regular dinners/grill parties on company dime for being successful at doing perceived unglamorous jobs, and generally cheerlead their work for it, and in the back ground try to find a way with upper management to get them something to do once in a while more interesting. Though the team i manage isn’t delegated to a single portion of the business, so milage may vary. Commented Sep 2, 2022 at 6:14
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The first thing that you need to understand is that the self-esteem of your team members is mostly out of your control. There are things that you can do to help them realize their value but ultimately this is something that they need to see and accept on their own. Keep in mind that there will be some members you will never convince are doing important work.

As for ideas that can help them, you can try the following:

  • Explain the importance of their work - In this specific case it is easy as a homepage is the first impression that many of your customers will have of your product/company. Arguably, it can be one of the most important aspects of a product. But assuming it was some other feature, you explain how the specific feature that they are working on interacts with the others and how vital it is to the product as a whole.
  • Praise them. When they do good work let them know. When others in the company recognize and comment on their good work, make sure to pass along this information to them. Even if what they are doing is not that important, at least give them credit for the good things that they do. This can help them feel like they provide value to the company and are appreciated.
  • Finally, sometimes the feature that they are working on just isn't exciting or even that important in the grand scheme of things. If this is the case, the only thing you can do is remind them that while what they are currently working on may not be ideal, there are opportunities in the future to work on more interesting/important things.

At the end of the day, as developers they need to understand that they will not always be working on the best/most exciting features of any product. If you have any input as to what features are assigned to your team, look for work that your team has expressed interest in. This way, rather than thinking that they are not important, they will just realize that every task will not be interesting and they just need to push forward and complete the dull parts of the job to be able to ( hopefully ) work on the interesting side.

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Connect the work to business results.

Any task you take on should have some metrics that define whether it's well done or not. Ideally this metrics should be tied the success goals of the business unit. If your team is doing well on the metrics and the metrics are credible, they will be happy.

Metrics could be technical (uptime, loadtime, cost to host & maintain), or business orientated (number of visits, reduction in customer support call, conversion to sales, etc.)

If there are no metrics and "anything goes" as long as the website loads, your team will be frustrated since their is no way for them to know whether the work is meaningful or high-quality.

If there are no good metrics at the moment, you can create some using input from "customers" "stakeholders" and your team. Your company has a website for a reason and that reason should be able to define what a "good" or a "bad" website is.

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why do they think its a junk team?

  1. is it because they dont get any recognition from the management?
  2. is it because the technology is mediocre? Many MNCs are still on oldest technologies. But still the team is happy.
  3. Is it because they dont get hikes they expect?

If point 1 is the issue, then in the next company wide demoes you need to better highlight the team and the achievements. ALso, you will have to make the management talk a little about the team.

if point 2 is the issue, Then you wil have to find ways to upgrade. But this will be relatively difficult task as its rolling a stone uphill. You will have to fight management and do thinkgs. In the end you will also have Attrition.

i point 3 is the issue, then you cant do much. Except to quickly hire new members into the team. or dilute the existing team by sending a few to the other teams etc. But to keep this point in check you will have to do frequest 1-1 with each of the team members.

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