So here's my story:
I've recently taken over as manager of a team of engineers (actually the team was broken up since it had grown too big, and I now manage half of the people on the team). Although I've been the technical lead on several projects in the past, this is the first time I've done the resource management thing, written end of year reviews, etc. The team is "matrixed", in that we are divided up into 4 "sub" teams, each one working on a different product. We've experienced some turnover recently, and after a few long talks with the people who left, and some more talks with the people who are still on the team, I've managed to acquire some good information. Now I need to figure out how to best act on the information, which is what I'm looking for help with.
The major issue is that cliques are present along the lines of the individual sub/product teams. Each product we work on has a different set of requirements, required procedures, etc and therefore, getting from the beginning to the end of the program is very different depending on which program/product you are supporting. I always emphasize the "one team" ideology, and encourage cross polination between sub-teams, but many times when people from one team attempt to give ideas to another, it is not received well. Many times, it is because there is a certian amount of "pride" on each team, and the "ideas" tend to come out as follows: "Our way is better, so do it our way". or "How could a competant person even think of doing it that way?" (and other more personal insults). This is usually the result of people who make suggestions without knowing more about the other product. They give an answer that seems obvious to them, but in the context of the program, doesn't even make sense. This is understandable, since we just do not have enough time to educate every engineer on the team to that level of detail of every product we support. So the end result is people constantly trying to get people on their side of an argument. Because of this dynamic, there never is one true "winner", rather just a bunch of people who are mad at each other. Sometimes, it is so bad that people are cast aside, or thrown "outside of the circle".. After that, it doesn't matter what they do, nobody will ever take them seriously.
After some thought, I believe the root cause may be a lack of technical leadership across sub-teams, which results in people jockying for the position of the undisputed technical leader. Unlike my team, most of the other teams in our department have at least one person on their team who has 25+ years of experience. This person isn't assigned to any single program in particular, rather they act as an intermediary, and usually have the final say. This eliminates the need for people to strive to become the technical "king" of the team. The way our teams are structured, my role as manager is to mentor and develop employees. While I am engaged in the technical side of the work, and am involved with the major decisions and much of the day to day activities, I can't be involved with every little issue that comes up every single day, nor would I be suited for that role, since I'm new to the team myself and am still learning what we do at a technical level. I definately do not have enough insight into the subject matter to justify being worthy of having the final say on these issues.
There also seems to be lots of negativity coming from some of the more senior people on the team when new people or less experienced engineers have a hard time coming up to speed and ask for help, or have a hard time catching on. This happens despite the fact I've been pushing our senior people to help people out when they are having trouble, and I've even worked it into their goals for the year.
Based on this, can anyone offer some advice?