Finding New Ways to Motivate Them

Over my years as a leader, team members and family members have often given me Star Wars-related merchandise as gifts. I try not to read into the fact that I seem to get mostly Darth Vader-related items. I'm hoping the Vader gifts aren't some kind of commentary on my leadership style. I do often quote Darth Vader in humorous ways, so (hopefully) that's why. There's a great line in "Return of the Jedi" when Darth Vader is trying to pressure an officer to complete an engineering project faster. The officer tries to assure Darth Vader that "my men are working as fast they can." Vader responds with "Perhaps I can find new ways to motivate them." Leaders in even the best organizations need to work at improving and maintaining employee morale and engagement. Happy teams are productive teams, after all. Finding new ways to motivate a team can keep things interesting and boost engagement.

The holidays are over (finally!) and it is time to get back to work! At my current employer, work has been inconsistent for the last couple of sprints due to people being out and reorganization efforts going on. My team has been rethinking some older systems, chasing performance issues, and wrapping up Q4 work. I've noted some issues that my team found that caused me some concern but could not be immediately remediated.

One issue is related to a high number of unauthenticated requests to our API from an unknown application. It is an "internal" cloud-hosted API, so I'm certain we're not being attacked. The problem is that since it is an unauthorized app, we can't see anything like an application registration ID or something that would tell us whose app it is. And, since PROD access is limited, my team can't trace it back to the source. Who keeps harassing my API?

Another issue is related to performance. Once a week, a team triggers an action that hits our API with numerous requests. Most of the time, our API responds in a reasonable amount of time. Other times, the response time gets quite high. We think it might be a resource contention issue such as the database getting overwhelmed. But, again, we don't have the PROD access or the training to poke around our cloud dashboards and figure out what the problem is.

I want my team to push forward with figuring out how to address these issues, but it will take time. Luckily, my organization budgets money for me to use for employee engagement. I created a wiki page in my team's section called "Bounties" and shared it with my team. I wanted to give them something interesting and useful to spend time on without leaving them feeling overworked or underpaid. The bounty board will list items that I want answers on that are above and beyond their normal sprint work. Depending on what the issue is and what kind of impact fixing the issue has, I will provide some kind of reward.

I'm interested to see if the team reaches out to other teams to chase these issues down. I'd be more than happy to provide a gift card or something similar for their efforts. They'll have helped the team, their platform, and our customers while enjoying some extra money and recognition. I hope they nail one of these bounties down soon so I can report on it here. Do you think your team would appreciate a bounty board of some kind? What other ways do you motivate your team?