My first “Ask Me Anything” (part 3)

The third part of this AMA session.
The first question was about learnings, the second question was about fears.
What will this third question brings ?

Regarding team management, what are some of the most challenging moments you had this past year and what was your approach to solving them and keeping the team motivated?

Mário Andrade (Frontend Expert at OutSystems)

Most challenging moment from my past year. I switched jobs late July so I was half year at log and the another half at the RUPEAL Group. I will have to choose one for the first semester.

Late in 2017, I was fighting for additional engineers to be added to the team. The company had two projects running in production, and both had a major potencial of becoming a SaaS. We needed to push some new features while doing some refactoring to prevent code to rott in the near future and to implement some much needed optimizations. Instead, the upper management decided to move differently. It was needed to cut the team short. So, two developers were sent to outsourced projects.

The remaining team felt their importance shaken. The developers that had to move, felt they were just a number.

It was a tough period for the engineering team.

For starters, I tried to keep everybody feeling that they still belonged to just one team. In the first weeks, I tried to keep everyone debating about implementations’ concerns, or doing code review. I knew it would not stuck in the long run, because the “outsiders” would lose context (actually they would be learning their clients’ new context at the same time).

We had some internal side projects which they actually would be able to use in their outsourcing projects. So, in the end we keep those projects as our anchor for belonging to the team.

After my departure, each one of them choosed to try new challenges and jobs. I like to believe that while I was there I helped to keep the team’s heart pumping. We were a small team that had a community feeling, as much that still today we keep contact, we help each other with professional issues and have great meals together at least each couple months.

Jumping forward, when I moved to RUPEAL, I found a team of good professionals, good software engineers. After I talked with each one of them, I learned that they liked very much about the company’s culture but in the meantime they were having some motivation issues, because they felt they were moving in circles.

They were using some form of Scrum and they were almost self-managed. They knew what they had to do. They knew what had to be done to improve the products. Yet, they felt that everyone was moving in circles. Worst, they felt the rest of the company did not give much credit to their work.

A clear issue of focus and communication.

We had to improve some Scrum ceremonies, which they already performed, but whose results were carried out very lightly. Accountability was needed. That gave a bigger sense of empowerment to every single one of them.

We also started celebrating each sprint’s end, where the entire team goes for lunch together. Every time we reach a milestone, lets say a conclusion of an epic, or some tough feature, or a much asked optimization…we celebrate that milestone’s hero or heroine….to the entire office.

That gives credit to the “Who”.

For the “We” (team’s credit), each sprint we started to share the sprint report, in layman terms, with the entire office. It was really necessary that every single one in the entire office knew what these guys were doing. Kudos were needed.

That improved communication and recognition.

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