Back to resources

Motivating a Team to Work on Less Exciting Tasks

Leadership
Delegate
Convincing
Motivation

8 December, 2021

Daria Derkach
Daria Derkach

Engineering Manager at Atlassian

Daria Derkach, Engineering Manager at Atlassian, describes her experience compromising with her team to work on a less-interesting feature that needed to be developed.

Working on a Less-Exciting Feature

In my team, I had one engineer that was the primary technical contact for the whole team - a tech lead. At some point, we had two different features that we needed to work on. These were both crucial for the company and came directly from the leadership. The problem I faced was that we needed to create a technical design for one of the features. Unfortunately, my team only has one individual capable of doing it. We started on one feature but needed to work on the other as well. When we were working on both, the tech lead expressed their interest in other projects, as these features were not interesting to them.

Finding Common Ground Using a Win-Win Approach

The Initial Conversation:

When the tech lead brought to my attention that they did not find their feature interesting, I held back from saying they needed to complete it. It was not my place to push them into doing work that they did not find challenging or appealing, and I didn’t want to negatively impact our connection. Instead, during this initial conversation, I said that I would think about it and look for a compromise.

My Next Steps:

I thought a lot about ways to drive this team member indirectly. I was looking for a solution that was a win-win for both the organization and my tech lead. First of all, I set up a follow-up meeting with the team members to find out why they did not enjoy working on this feature. Common ground was that the other feature wasn’t challenging enough for them.

I realized I needed to explain “the why” - both features were essential and impactful for customers. I also shared why I wanted this team member to work on the features because I trusted them, and knew they had the technical knowledge to achieve a successful outcome. Once we discussed each other’s feelings and motives, we could come to a compromise more quickly.

Finding Common Ground:

My team members wanted to work on the second feature, and I needed them to work on the first feature. We decided that they could work on both features in parallel with more resources and access to other wealth of knowledge. In the end, we got exactly what everyone needed - impact of one’s work on customers on one hand, and successful feature delivery on the other.

Achieving Positive Solutions Through Conversation

  • It was essential to be prepared for my discussion with the tech lead. To keep my team motivated, I took my time and created a list of pros and cons relating to possible outcomes. I detailed multiple backup plans in case we were not able to agree.
  • When initiating a challenging conversation with a team member, asking for their feedback is essential. Not only will it provide you with actionable steps you can take, but it’ll keep you involved in their thought process and feelings.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

How to Spark Sales-Driven Change

19 January

Nani Nitinavakorn, Sr Product Owner at Revolut, recalls her experience initiating a structural change to optimize her entire company.

Customers
Innovation / Experiment
Leadership
Meetings
Impact
Users
Nani Nitinavakorn

Nani Nitinavakorn

Sr Product Owner at Revolut

Strategies to Deliver Effective Employee Feedback

18 January

Rachit Lohani, Head of Engineering at Atlassian, shares all his ideas and principles on providing feedback and avoiding discomfort while doing so.

Leadership
Internal Communication
Feedback
Motivation
Strategy
Team Processes
Rachit Lohani

Rachit Lohani

Head of Engineering at Atlassian

How to Replatforming a Major Organization

19 January

Jason De Oliveira, CTO for more than 10 years, describes his methods of re-platforming an organization with nearly thirty years of existence using specific techniques and technologies.

Alignment
Changing A Company
Company Culture
Conflict Solving
Convincing
Coaching / Training / Mentorship
Changing Company
Agile / Scrum
Jason De Oliveira

Jason De Oliveira

CTO at Kolquare

Completing a Successful Reorganization within a Well-Established Company

19 January

Jason De Oliveira, CTO for more than 10 years, shares his experience completing a reorganization, implementing agile, and collaborating with multiple teams.

Alignment
Product
Leadership
Reorganization
Agile / Scrum
Jason De Oliveira

Jason De Oliveira

CTO at Kolquare

Understanding Career Growth: Promotion and Sideways Career Changes

19 January

Mike Bassett, Senior Director of Engineering at Electronic Arts, shares his journey through the career ladder, highlighting evaluation steps to ensure high motivation.

Personal Growth
Leadership
Motivation
Career Path
Mike Bassett

Mike Bassett

Senior Director of Engineering at Electronic Arts (EA)

You're a great engineer.
Become a great engineering leader.

Plato (platohq.com) is the world's biggest mentorship platform for engineering managers & product managers. We've curated a community of mentors who are the tech industry's best engineering & product leaders from companies like Facebook, Lyft, Slack, Airbnb, Gusto, and more.