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Self-training of the team as a driver for the growth of expertise of IT companies

Unpredictable changes in the external environment and work in the technological field stimulate the emergence of new tasks and requirements for the competencies of IT companies. Without continuous development, it is impossible to adapt the team’s expertise to new realities. Therefore, to solve this problem, some IT market players began to actively combine external and internal training and launch complexes of new Ed formats. Anna Agashkova, HR director of the company, spoke about how this is implemented in ActiveCloud.

— Why did you decide to use the resource of internal training more actively?

— In our company, we have assembled an experienced team of specialists, including technical ones. And internal training for us is not only a good way to “inventory” competencies and ensure a quick transfer of expertise (including product and project), but also to unite employees and strengthen cross-functional ties.

— There is an opinion that employees of IT companies do not really like to get involved in mandatory corporate activities. Is it so? How do you deal with resistance to mentoring when you see it?

— On the part of young active IT professionals, we do not observe any rejection: they are just set up for professional and career development and expect such support. Make learning activities useful and interesting. However, on the part of experts who should act as tutors and mentors in this process, sometimes one can face refusals. But they are not connected with the unwillingness to share professionalism, but with two common reasons that can be easily solved. Firstly, with the fear of not being up to par due to lack of coaching experience. To eliminate this hindrance, our HR department, for example, helps tutors with recommendations on the design of the training program and the presentation of educational material, with the choice of suitable tools, attention management techniques, group dynamics, etc. As a rule, with the “showdown of teaching hours”, fears are replaced by confidence and pleasure to be in contact with an interested audience. The second common reason is a real lack of time. And this is also a problem to be solved: in order to avoid conflicts with the load on work projects, we, together with the heads of tutors and mentors, build training tasks into schedules.

What types of internal training do you use?

one. mentoring – transfer of knowledge by an experienced colleague or manager. We prefer informal conversations and answers to questions. Mentoring adds humanity to basic online adaptation.

2. Peer-to-peer learning – exchange of expertise with colleagues. In the technical support service, engineers share the solution of cases by specialization, expanding the team’s toolkit. RnD architects immerse sales teams in the intricacies of the cloud. Lawyers teach the basics of contract work and personal data protection. Accountants – maintaining primary accounting. HRs – effective communication and teamwork.

3. Development Centers. Eco-friendly format of the Assessment Centers. Their goal is learning, not evaluation. Participants solve practical problems, play work situations, take feedback, try again, taking into account the recommendations from the previous iteration. A positive atmosphere is helped by the installation of the benefits of mistakes as a method of gaining experience.

four. negotiation fights. Favorite format of the sales and technical support department. With its help, we pump negotiation skills, technical knowledge. Battles are built on game mechanics, they contain sharp cases from working realities, competition of participants, prizes, corporate recognition. The format of fights allows both observers and judges to learn. They, too, gain experience by consciously monitoring and giving constructive feedback.

5. For the service and technical support department, we carry out customer focus and emotional intelligence training. We prefer microformat in them – short, case-based, with simple and useful tools. Together we analyze successful and unsuccessful situations with clients, arrange role-playing games, train stress reduction skills. Participants enjoy live facilitation when sharing thoughts, “pain” and findings. We recently collected an image of a difficult client. It was lively and informative.

6. For young leaders – general management course, which includes basic managerial skills, leadership, the basics of financial and legal literacy. Tutors are top managers of the company. Participants like to learn the science of management based on the experience of colleagues. Tutors share what they are strong in and what they use in their work.

7. For top managers, we tried the format developing travel. The team conquered the Thorong-La pass at 5,416 meters (Annapurna Mountain in Nepal). Pumped resistance and team spirit.

8. Session elevator pitch is part of the strategy. Volunteers prepare a five-minute presentation suggesting a business project or improvement idea. Financiers help to calculate the economic effect of implementation. Participants vote to select projects that will receive management support in the next financial year. One of the pitching topics – customer experience management – has become the focus of corporate attention in the current financial year.

9. Experimented with the format joint reading. Chapter by chapter we studied the book “Measure the most important”, exchanged insights and ideas in the Yammer corporate network. As a result, self-managed cross-functional product development teams were introduced. Recently, employees have initiated bookcrossing. We share paper and e-books with colleagues.

10. Organically took root educational conversations in the kitchen. The center of the office space in the format of a living room invites to dialogue. Over a cup of aromatic coffee, a warm conversation goes by itself. Most often, issues of interaction with the team, clients, ideas for future projects are discussed. In the kitchen, questions like: “What is important to learn from the situation? What can I learn? What you should pay attention to? What reasons to rejoice and be proud I do not notice? What is worth trying? – do not confuse, but open up new horizons.

11. “Random” moderation weekly executive meetings. We choose the moderator of the next meeting using a randomizer. This is the development of meeting management skills and group dynamics, which helps to hone the style, focus on issues.

12. To train managerial competencies, we practice replacing an absent leader reservist.

13. Demo days. Presentation “to the whole city” of the results of projects and changes. Those that bring new tools and reforms of familiar processes. A written regulation or instruction is a basic step. It is important to sell the idea, the benefits of the application, so that they want to use it. It is also important to answer questions in a lively dialogue, to stay in touch for debugging. An effective tool for improving presentation skills, empathy for internal clients, and implementing changes using the “pull” technology.

14. In the ActiveLaba group of the Yammer corporate network, we place thematic posts, articles with a short announcement of the essence, video content, follow up master classes. We are announcing upcoming events. Our employees pay attention self-development: read, attend webinars, are active in professional communities – virtual and face-to-face. Insights received during self-leveling are a reason for fasting. We encourage the publication of employees with reflection on the topic. This is the development of conscious learning skills and the desire to spread knowledge further.

— Does the company pay mentors for the transfer of knowledge?

– Good question. Probably, like most companies, additional monetary rewards for mentors are a rare practice. But it cannot be said that we do not use monetary rewards at all. For example, we reward technical support staff for writing articles for corporate wiki. But as for mentoring and tutoring, the transfer of expertise and experience within the company, we consider it as part of work in a position or role. At personal and team meetings, through an internal social network, we promote the cult of pollination with knowledge. Internal tutoring and mentoring is a way to increase authority, be more visible in the corporate space, stand out in the information field, be a leader of opinions and the environment. Preparing for training is a way to delve into a topic and get into the talent pool. We choose the “Best Mentor” by annual corporate voting. This emphasizes the value of the role. We reward the winners with branded clothes and accessories of limited collections. We regularly pay attention to balancing the KPI of employees in order to maintain the overall “corporate boat”. The speed of the ship depends on the slowest part. The transfer of knowledge and competencies is a way to increase the speed of the team.

How do you develop employees in the workplace?

– Stretching a task or a task with an asterisk. The employee expands the professional “repertoire”, stimulates the intellect. This is a test of faith in one’s ability, the ability to cope with the disappointment of the first failures and reach the end. Therefore, the role of the mentor, his support, professional and emotional, is important. He must fall in love with the task, decompose it into understandable steps, lead through them, lend a hand at difficult stages. At the end, hold a retrospective with an analysis of what worked and why, and what else needs to be strengthened.

How do you define training needs?

— Depending on the current business strategy, we determine critical competencies. For example, DevOps, IT security, negotiation skills and emotional intelligence are still in demand this year.

Informative and evaluation procedures. Both regular – analysis of interaction and solving customer cases, and complex – technical interviews and assignments. We regularly find out the wishes of managers and employees. Through surveys and personal conversations.

— What are the plans to expand the practice of internal training and development?

– In the near future, we would like to introduce team coaching. It is based on retrospectives of cross-functional teams, mutual feedback on working behaviors. We also believe that short internships in related departments will deepen the understanding of processes and improve the interaction between departments.

What thought would you like to end the conversation with?

— There are many more internal learning tools than it seems at first glance. It is important to be attentive and creative in the search, to believe in the potential of the team. Mutual pollination of knowledge is an affordable way to increase corporate expertise.

My profession is a journalist, but my hobby for 8 years has been studying Forex investing and trading. During this time, I managed to gain extensive experience in investing and trading cryptocurrencies and double my capital in the Forex market. To be the author of this magazine, the site owners invited me to participate in one of the 2020 trading webinars, and I will try to reveal the most relevant crypto market news for you.

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