Timlids. A lot at once. How to choose and develop

Hello! My name is Andrey Novikov, I’m the head of development in one of the divisions of Exness, and together with Lena Skvortsova, our HR BP, we want to tell you how we choose team leaders in the development team, how we develop them and how we grow them under the hot Cyprus sun.

Many companies in a certain period of growth are faced with the question: where to get team leaders? Grow yourself or take ready in the market? We also faced this issue, as the company is growing steadily, and our technology office in Cyprus is currently one of the most numerous.

Our infographics on 01/06/2020

Having studied the experience of many companies, both Russian and Western, we came to the most popular decision – to grow and develop our team leaders and, in exceptional cases, to hire from the market. This is because:

  1. Hiring employees in Cyprus is always slower than in the CIS, as relocation is a serious step for many.
  2. Hiring 7–9 team leaders at one point is a daunting task that will take years.
  3. For our engineers, becoming a team leader is another development path that allows children who want to take a managerial position in the future to grow within the company.
  4. The stages of storming and grinding are much faster with a person whom the team already knows.

The article consists of five parts. You can borrow the program and approaches, and we will be glad if our work will be useful to other companies that face a similar challenge.

  1. Selection process;
  2. Talentpool
  3. Development program;
  4. IDP
  5. Lessons and tips.

Selection process

Our task was to choose a team lead in each of the eight teams at the same time, so that the transition to a new form of management was the same for the development teams, and the guys could start learning at the same time.

To do this, we divided the whole process into several stages:

  1. Self preparation;
  2. Job interview;
  3. Calibration of the results.

Self preparation

As an independent preparation, we gave all candidates from the team a written assignment – to think over the questions: “If I became a team leader, what would I change in the team right now?”, “Why do I want to become a team leader?”, “What problems and challenges do I Do I see myself in a new role? ”
The answers to these questions are very important, because on the one hand, they make you think again about the question “Do I really want to become a team leader?”, Reflect on my experience, strengths and weaknesses, on the other – highlight the problems and areas of development of the team, which are visible in the current role.

Job interview

It can be said that the internal interview for the role of team lead did not differ much from the interview with an external candidate. It was based on questions that helped assess the candidates’ motivation, experience and skills.
At this stage, it is important to understand for yourself the following basic things for each candidate:

  1. What motivation does an employee have to become a team leader? Money, career, challenge, self-development, recognition?
  2. What are the candidate’s strengths for the role of team lead?
  3. What needs to be pumped and changed?
  4. What are the risks in appointing this employee to be a team leader? For example, the team will be left without a single front, and you need to immediately open a replacement position, or is there a risk of strong demotivation of another candidate?

All interviews were held in an informal setting, so that the conversation would be as open and honest as possible.
Selecting internal candidates is easier and more reliable than external ones, since you are already familiar with the person, you know his strengths and weaknesses, you have his performance results and evaluations of soft skills for previous years of work.

Calibrate Results

Calibration of results is the defense of your choice before stakeholders, product team ounders and the head of a business unit. It is necessary to prove why one or another candidate was chosen, to identify the risks of choice and talk about the development plan. Calibration allows you to take into account the possible difficulties and points of view of people who have an external look at the team and can highlight some moments in the blind zone.

Talent pool

Talent Pool, or personnel reserve – our potential. It includes guys who would like to be team leaders and grow in this direction, but today we either do not have a team for another team leader, or they need to pump certain skills. First of all, these are candidates who were not selected by the team leaders, but who have the desire and potential to take this role.
From Talent pool we invite team leaders when we have a replacement position in the current team, or a new team appears that needs a team leader.
The development program for Talent Pool is the same as for team leaders, but the training format is more designed for self-development of material and self-control.

Development program

Our internal program is designed for six months and is designed taking into account the gradual immersion of the engineer in his new role as a linear manager of the team. We maintain a balance between quickly immersing a person in a role and learning skills that will be useful in the role of a TL from the first days of work, and protection against burnout in a completely new role and new relationships with the team.
The team development program is divided into two areas: basic management and operational management. The first direction is the managerial foundation, which will be useful to any manager in any organization. The second direction is the tools and approaches that we use, they are also quite popular, but not used everywhere, or adapted to a specific company.

Basic management program

  • Team Leadership Development
    • Management roles
    • Control cycle
    • Situational leadership
  • Influence skills
    • Engagement management
    • Personality types
    • Avoidance of manipulation
  • Influence Skills and Performance Assessment
    • 1-1 meetings
    • Score 360
    • How to provide negative feedback
  • Managing Your Own Productivity
    • Priorities
    • Plan Types
    • Energy management
  • Motivation
    • Motivation or involvement
    • Theory of motivation
    • Gallup q12

Operations Management Program

  • Incident management;
  • Flexible development methodologies (Scrum, Kanban);
  • Facilitation of meetings;
  • Hiring process;
  • Adaptation process;
  • Dismissal;
  • Analysis of complex cases;
  • The salary.

In the first months of working with team leaders, we hold weekly 1-2-1 meetings to analyze all difficult situations, answer questions and help in making decisions. The first layoffs and hiring, complex 1-2-1 rallies are also held in conjunction with the team leader for support and a smoother entry into the role.

IDP (Individual Development Plan)

IDP, or an individual development plan is an individual growth tool in our company. If the development program for basic management skills covers standard managerial topics and the development of skills in a group, then IDP is developed taking into account the growth areas of a particular employee.

The IDP compilation and development process looks like this:

  1. Training. At the initial meeting, the team leader and Learn & Development (L&D) specialist / HR discuss areas where the employee feels insecure / wants to grow. This is a conversation with examples from the daily work of the leader, the purpose of which is to understand what exactly you want to improve. What is the ideal result? How will this help the business?
  2. Compilation of IDP. IDP is a list of books, articles, podcasts, videos, films, activities for pumping a specific skill. For each skill, as a rule, we include reading / video / activity, so that, as they say, “both in theory and in practice.”
  3. Development. After the IDP is ready, we begin to work on it. Once a month, team leader and L&D specialist / HR meet to see if IDP works, whether it is worth adjusting, and what else can be done to help. IDP is a working tool that can be changed and supplemented. For example, after 360 results, we often supplement the IDP if we see that a particular competency has “slipped”.

How to choose competencies for IDP? The task of L&D specialist and team lead at the first meeting is to understand with examples which competency needs to be improved.
Usually, all competencies in IDP fall into three main areas of skill in the company: business acumen (understanding of business and industry), operational excellence (execution) and leadership (soft skills, so necessary for the leader). For team leaders, the first version of IDP mainly consisted of work on leadership, namely, people management.
How do we measure progress? As always – feedback! This is a personal feedback from colleagues, 360 results, and, of course, reviews of team leaders about their development.

Tutorials and Tips

In conclusion, I would like to share a couple of tips and lessons that may be useful to you.

The main problem we are facing is an ambiguous understanding of the role of THB. The role of team lead in different companies consists of different skills and responsibilities, very often it is confused with the role of technical team. Therefore, it is important to make a clear and structured description of the team lead, its duties, responsibilities, opportunities and roles in the company and convey it at meetings with teams.

Choosing a team lead is not easy. You have to choose the best of the best, guys who are already informal leaders in the team. It is necessary to work correctly with the expectations of candidates who were not chosen by the team leaders, to prevent strong demotivation and to support their development in the Talent pool.

If the team is mature, works smoothly, she can make the choice of team lead herself. We had a case when the team gathered and independently, without our participation, held a team lead election and proved why this particular person would be an excellent candidate for this position.

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