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Motivating the Team Spirit

Personal Growth
Motivation
New Manager

24 August, 2021

Aravind Valloor Mana
Aravind Valloor Mana

Engineering Manager at Broadcom

Aravind Valloor Mana, Engineering Manager at Broadcom, explains how calmly he handled the problems in the team and motivated the team members to work on their own.

Problem

When people move from an engineering role to a leadership role, and as an engineer, you must do everything, like solving problems, writing programs, writing scripts, or making the computer work etc. It becomes a difficult job. When you get into a leadership role, you must have a significant change in your attitude. As an engineer, you should ask them questions, make them think that it might be probably the other way around of what you think, instead of telling them how to do things.

Initially, my manager used to tell me what we must do instead of telling me how we should do it. So, I kept the best possible solution in the back of my head and saw how questions and ideas could trigger my thoughts. It would be best if you kept in mind that you have limited knowledge with limited capabilities. Also that you have a team that can come together and create wonders if you can correctly poke their brains and make them energized with problems. Then they will come up with great ideas.

I often heard (and have experienced first hand) that when first-time leaders get to the manager, they have this intense feeling of proving themselves as great engineers. I feared that the engineers would not respect me if I did not put my engineering hat and worked with them to solve their problems. Afterall, I am an engineer and my job was to solve the problems.

I had experienced that one must not have to be a great engineer to become a great leader. It would help if you let them be great engineers. They were there to solve problems, so give them as many problems as possible. Do not overburden them, provide them with enough quality problems, and they will be happy to work.

You might feel that you are helping your team by solving problems for them. You might think that you are doing a great thing for your team, but you are destroying your team by overthinking and over helping. They would not feel that connection; they would think that, “Oh my God, this person is asking us to do this big task, the way he wants, Am I a clerk?”

Actions taken

Hence, after becoming the manager, I helped my team and showed them how to solve problems. Sometimes I became impatient when I saw that issues were not getting solved as fast as I wanted them to be solved. I started giving solutions to them. One piece of great advice that I have got - never provide any solutions to them. In that way, you prevent your team from growing daily. To make them grow, instead of providing solutions, ask them question. It will guide them and assist them in developing a solution that even you may not have considered. When they foresee that they will have ownership that you have built upon them, they will trust you.

For example, never put them under any pressure, or ask them to complete a task in three hours and that you will return after three hours to check their work. Even if you do that, make sure that you sit with them and understand the problem; what is it that you were trying to solve and make them understand the problem. People nowadays are smart, and they come up with brilliant ideas that you may not have considered.

Lessons learned

  • The solution that you had in mind might not be as good as what they had come up with, so allowing them to come up with their answers might work well. Regardless of what they come up with, do not judge them or do not criticize them. If they have come up with something good, then appreciate their efforts to solve the problem. Getting an opportunity to solve a problem helps them grow.
  • I learned and took some time to realize that I have seen managers stick to that old role of being an engineer - solving everything for their team and then getting that pressure on their folders. When we have our one-on-one, I allow them to say whatever they feel about the team and me. If one of the teammates faced any problems working with some other teammates, make sure that they tell you. Make them as comfortable as possible to feel that they are working in the safest environments. In the team meetings, allow them to discuss any problems they had without thinking about how others would react to it. The team meetings and the one-on-one would help set a good rapport between the team members and you. That will help them develop great ideas because once they are in an environment where they can try new ideas, they would be excited and energized.
  • Bringing the team close together, and if there are issues let the leader know about it. Maybe they might not be comfortable telling about the problem with their team, but if they feel team members should tell the complaint to the concerned person without revealing the person who has made the complaint, they will feel safe. Instead of pointing fingers, concentrate on the solution. The person who has made the mistake would understand that they have made a mistake, but they will feel safe as the manager did not take up their name in the meeting. It will be a generic statement, and they will have that trust in you. You are working towards solving a problem, not finding faults.

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