How do build a empowered and motivated engineering team?


I am assuming your question is more pertaining to empowering and motivating (rather than hiring).
I can outline some of the practices I have seen really result in high motivation and sense of ownership among engineering teams:
* Empathize - Your engineering team will work well and be more motivated if they see you as one of them rather than a person who doesn't understand their function. Show your geeky side to them, and show that you understand their thought process and drivers.
* Pick their brain on big and small decisions (roadmap, usability, whatever it is) - Product teams value being heard. The more you position yourself as someone who is WANTS to listen, is keen to have their inputs, you will be surprised at how involved they can get, and also how you can actually tap into a lot of smart ideas/thoughts from them that you can develop on.
* Take care to explain - show how you arrive at decisions. Share your research, competitive analysis, and even your thought process on arriving at a feature set or list of things for a release. Its stuff you would have worked on anyway - so no harm sharing with more eyes!
* Share customer feedback - nothing motivates your engineers than a positive interaction with a customer. Get them to see customer feedback. Have them sit in and observe some of the usability studies. (B2B - have them see you do some demos or do a successful sales pitch)
* Send out interesting articles, insights, business and tech articles with your comments/highlights to them on a regular basis (maybe twice a week?) - maybe even some analysis you did on competition or customer feedback
* Engineers like working with people they feel are competent and complement the work they are doing to build a great product. So make sure they see how everyone else around them is also doing a good job and adding value and contributing to the success of the product.
* Be transparent about the product/business - Make them feel they are responsible and involved in the business, not just technology. I've seen engineering teams happy about their annual goals having components relating to making revenues, keeping customers happy, or reducing costs. If they are enthused about the business as a whole, they will be more motivated with their engineering efforts
* Have a mix of little experiments, R&D, attending to engineering debt, in addition to bug fixes and new features that each engineer gets to spend some time on (based on their interest)
* Finally get to know each of your engineers personally, and be aware of what their priorities are. Each of us has different motivations in life, so there is no silver bullet to motivate people. When they know you care for them, they are more motivated :).

Answered 11 years ago

“A team is a group in which the jobs and skills of each member fit in with those of others as - to take a very mechanical and static analogy - in a jigsaw puzzle, pieces fit together without distortion and together produce some overall pattern.” (B. Babington Smith, as quoted by John Adair)
The drive to be part of a team seems to be instinctive and probably originated when human beings came down from trees to live on the open plains. The challenges early man faced were problems of scale, for example, in facing a threat from a pride of lions, and problems of complexity, primarily in how to handle a range of environmental threats to find food, shelter, warmth, and safety. Leaving everyone to sort things out for themselves had limitations. The answer was to pool resources and co-ordinate what everyone did. The concept of the tribe was born which in due course evolved into the concept of the team.
A successful team is one in which the team members not only achieve something special and worthwhile but feel as if they have participated in something special and worthwhile. Unlike a group, teams:
1. create varying levels of deep and meaningful personal relationships
2. arouse feelings in their members for what the team stands for
3. provide stimulus and motivation to those in them
4. provide various forms of synergy
5. are always developing
6. have purposeful unifying activity
7. feel special to those in them

While groups remain largely static, repeating what they do at a fixed or standardised level of performance, teams can grow and change and work towards an excellent level of performance. This development has 5 stages:
i. Stage the team is just a collection of people with nothing in common other than nominal membership of the organisation
ii. Stage the team is a group of people with loose links, eg sharing a building, meeting occasionally
iii. Stage the team come together on work which has a purpose and a goal that the members all share
iv. Stage the team start to see themselves as a distinct unit with a life of its own.
v. Stage the team consistently achieve things together and evolve.

To build an empowered and motivated team follow these steps:
1. Forming: The forming stage of team development is when people come together for the first time. The atmosphere is wintry, cold, and formal. Suspicion, distrust, caution,
and fear may exist. The main direction of interaction is between individuals and the team leader rather than between individuals themselves. Teams can get stuck at the forming stage if trust is low and there is no impetus for development.
2. Storming: If the group is led to move beyond the forming stage, it enters the storming stage. This is when the group starts to wonder if they can gain something from being in the group. Instinctive feelings may arise about others in the group and there may be differences about exactly how to proceed and whose ideas will dominate. This is the sorting-out stage of the group’s growth and can be characterised by conflict and differences.
3. Norming: If the group is led to move beyond the storming stage, it enters the norming stage with agreement on strategies, systems, and structures. People start to see a purpose bigger than their own and there are the beginnings of putting others’ needs ahead of one’s own within the framework of mutual gain. The norms may include a blueprint for how the team works together.
4. Performing: If the group is led to move beyond the norming stage, the group start to see that, in working together, they can achieve something greater than the sum of their individual efforts. The focus now moves from sorting out their own issues to delivering something for the benefit of others, principally their customers or stakeholders. As the performing stage develops, the team become willing to take risks and face challenges that they would never have contemplated before. The team becomes a highly positive, can-do unit.
5. Disbandment: It is tempting to keep a well-performing team going once it has reached a satisfactory level of performance. After all, this is what it was formed for. However, while some teams manage to prolong their success for some time, it is organisational life for complacency and self-satisfaction to creep in once a team reaches a winning level. Then it becomes important to look to the future by disbanding and starting the growth cycle once more.
The manager of one-off teams can work with the natural process of team development, intervening only to create the right conditions for growth within the team itself.
• forming: emphasise the team’s identity and what binds them. Use “we”. Accept the team as a unit that can look after itself with your support. Build their confidence. Intervene only if the mix of individuals is not right.
• storming: encourage openness. Promote a safe climate. Allow healthy conflict. Avoid rescuing the team.
• norming: focus on what the team has in common. Link ideas. Seek interaction between the team members.
• performing: ensure people have the skills to perform. Provide regular feedback. Celebrate success.
• disbanding: manage change by looking ahead and moving on.

Besides if you do have any questions give me a call:

Answered 4 years ago

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