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I'm handling a Production support team. How to keep the team motivated and busy when the daily 'Business As Usual's are mostly automated and the team requires 2-3 hours in the day to complete the manual work? The management team doesn't want to shuffle/reduce the team, anticipating a new project will be live in the near future (maybe 1-2 months).

The team already has done a few proof of concepts and obtained new learnings on the technical and process side. They also help the other teams whenever required.

The question is: how to engage the team and make ideal use of the free time?

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    Are you really saying that there are zero opportunities for continuous process improvement, teaming, or servicing of tech debt? Or are you trying to crowd-source ideas? If the latter, this question is off-topic as a list-generating question. – Todd A. Jacobs Dec 7 '18 at 14:29
  • The main problem is the team is completely demotivated due to the wrong commitments/promises from the management about the new opportunities. I'm just looking for motivating the team and use the free time which the team has now. – DJo Dec 11 '18 at 4:57
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How to keep the team motivated

Ask the team.

Chances are, the team knows both:

  • What they want to do
  • What improvements to their process would help most

...far better than you (or, most certainly, strangers on the internet) ever could.

So ask them, discuss, and then ensure they're empowered to actually carry it out.

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    I'd only add that keeping them busy for the sake itself is probably a utilization fallacy. Otherwise, great answer. +1 – Todd A. Jacobs Dec 7 '18 at 15:29
  • Due to the high level of demotivation and wrong/false commitments from management (always), the team is not ready to open up. – DJo Dec 11 '18 at 5:01
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    @DJo Well, now you know what improvement to their process would help most - regain their trust. The how is the hard part, and easily its own separate Question. – Sarov Dec 11 '18 at 15:36
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Things I've done in the past:

  • Talk to people separately, if I see their motivation is down - try to find out what worries them, what would make them happy, etc.

  • Go the "official" route: get them to talk in the retrospective or 1 on 1 meetings (as a line manager).

  • Haul a bunch of people to Oliver's (the next door pub) and get them some beers - usually helps (I'm kind of joking, but kind of not ;))

  • organize any number of small scale events that don't need much budget or hassle: table tennis tournament, pot-luck lunches, board game Fridays, etc. People pick that up rather quickly and it creates some good energy.

In general I would encourage people to work on personal development in their "downtime" - take a course on Udemy/Coursera, pick up creative writing or whatever gets their juices flowing.

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