In the fourth and last article of this series, we will talk about a new tech leader’s training.

As we said at the end of the last article, you can use the skills I talked about in the previous articles to find the perfect candidate. Now that you have your trainee, you need to make him work side by side with another team leader who will be the trainer. The trainer should help the trainee when in difficulty and progressively give him more and more managing responsibilities. Another crucial point for the trainer manager is to involve the trainee in the decision making: he should share how he approaches problems, and along the training process, he should ask for the opinions of the trainee for solving problems.

Defining a training process

There is no clear path in making a training process that will work for the company and every working field. What your company should be able to do is: see what a tech leader is doing in his everyday work, and deduce from there all the responsibilities and duties he has; then, a responsible should divide those responsibilities into small, self-contained parts and have a rough idea of how the company plan to delegate all these parts to the trainee gradually; then, during the training, the trainer will be able to evaluate how fast your trainee is learning, and he will be able to set the right pace for every individual case. For us, at Zuru Tech, the ideal time of training goes between 3 and 6 months. We divide the practice into two parts: a first part, where the trainer strictly follows the trainee and where the trainee will gradually learn and test all the skills needed by his future position, and a second part, where the trainee is prepared enough to make his first test with a complete team, doing everything on his own and referring to the trainer only for extremely critical issues.

In particular, during the first period, we will evaluate how the trainee is behaving carefully. We are going to let him have full responsibility for a small task and coordinate a small subteam. At the same time, we will involve him in the decision process: at first, we are going to ask the trainee what he thinks about the trainer’s decision; then, we ask the trainee to answer directly without knowing the trainer’s opinions. At some point, we will invite the trainee to all the meetings that are usually attended only by the tech lead and the managers. This gradual process has two main advantages: 1) It gives the trainee the possibility to learn one step at a time, it doesn’t overburden him with stress and gives him time to understand if he likes his new role. 2) It provides the company the opportunity to test the trainee reducing risks that can lead to potential time and money loss.

How to evaluate the trainee process

During the training process, the trainer will have to assess and train the trainee, how will he do it? For every task he is going to work on, for every responsibility he will take on his shoulder and every HR interaction he will take, the trainee can ask himself and the trainee some questions.

If the trainee was able to achieve the desired result,

  • How can he improve?
  • What problems he encountered, and how did he deal with them?
  • Did he collaborate efficiently with people he was managing?
  • Were the led people satisfied by the trainee management?

If the trainee wasn’t able to achieve the desired result,

  • What has gone wrong?
  • How does the trainee plan to do better next time?
  • Did he listen to the suggestion of the trainer?
  • Does he need to improve in some significant areas?
  • Was he able to spot the problem before time, and did he promptly talk about it with his trainer?

Regarding the result of the task, a trainee and a trainer can always ask themselves:

  • Did he communicate appropriately with all the people needed for the job?
  • Was it able to understand when it was time to work alone and when it was time to talk with the trainer or other employees for help?
  • How was the relationship with the other team members during this period?
  • How was his attitude?

The answer to these questions, combined with the practical achieved result, is the key to evaluating the trainee performance. Also, beware that these questions are essential for the trainee as they are essential for the trainer. When the trainee answers these questions, the trainer can deduce the trainee’s attitude and ability to improve. When the trainer answers these questions, the trainer creates precious feedback he can share with the trainee for faster growth.

Here’s a visual recap of the process:

Conclusion

This article was the last entry to the series. I hope you find it helpful and that it can bring some insight to you about how we deal with management here at Zuru.

As I said in the first article intro, everything I talked about in this series comes from my direct experience while working for Zuru Tech Italy as a team leader, and it may or may not work for you. I hope you can use them as a comparison from improving yourself, your company, and every company in the world, regardless of the practical utility you can squeeze from these articles even if you find yourself doing the opposite of what I said as a result.

I hope you are going to contact me if you have any questions, the best this series of articles can do to start a discussion about this matter.

For any question or talk, you can find me at my work email loris@zuru.tech and on linked-in.

Image made by Pablo Stanley. Free for commercial or personal use. CC0 Public DomainLicense. https://www.humaaans.com/