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What to focus on when taking over a team that has had five managers in two years.

Heemeng Foo

Director Quality / Head of Quality at Rocket Lawyer

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Problem

"In 2011, when I first moved to the US, I was asked to take over a small team of test engineers who were focused on testing our iOS and Android media apps. Once I found out that they had had about five managers in two years I was immediately concerned, as there had been nobody to look out for their growth and development."

Actions taken

"During my first one-on-ones with each of the team members, the absolute first thing I reassured them about was that I wasn't intending on leaving the company anytime soon (and that I didn't have the means to, since I was on a transfer visa). This was at least for the next couple of years. Next, I talked to them about personal growth. I worked with each team member to identify some personal growth goals for them (e.g. learning new tech, test automation, and setting up Jenkins) and I aligned these goals with the projects they were already working on. I reassured them we would work on these goals together. I also put in the time to investigate and work with the tools so that I could offer more meaningful guidance about them. About a year later, when the CEO changed and there were huge changes in requirements, where all the engineers needed better skill levels, all of them were able to cope with the new job requirements."

Lessons learned

"Someone once told me that people stay in the company for two reasons: (a) the money is good, or (b) their boss takes an interest in their development. We, as managers, have very limited control of the remuneration staff can receive, but we can put in the time and effort to look after the development of our team members."


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Heemeng Foo

Director Quality / Head of Quality at Rocket Lawyer


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