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Reasons Promoting From Within Is Better for Growing Your Business

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18 January, 2022

Vishal Ramrakhyani
Vishal Ramrakhyani

Director of Engineering at Zoomcar

Vishal Ramrakhyani, Director of Engineering at Zoomcar, shares how grooming an existing senior team member to a leader can boost team morale and keep the culture intact.

Problem

Imagine this: you have a principal engineer in your team who decides to move out, and you don’t have a backup plan or a person to replace that position. This is precisely what had happened in one of the companies I worked at. We had only one senior engineer in the team and the rest of the team was newly built. I was an Associate Director back then, which was a role change for me as well, but when this person decided to move out, I was a bit perplexed by the situation. I had two options - should I groom the senior engineer to the next level and support the team for a couple of quarters or should I hire a Lead engineer from outside to lead this team?

Actions taken

As I decided to groom one of the senior engineers, I had to strategically create a plan to move with it. Sooner or later, when I started trusting one of the senior engineers, I started giving him more ownership and products across the company. The team itself had two submodules in it; business operations and customer experience. I gave him the business operations ownership, and I managed the customer experience aspects as that had the heavier part.

Simultaneously, he was also contributing to the project while leading the team. As a leader, I started working closing on the projects and divided the entire project lifecycle into three phases

  • Planning and design
  • Implementation
  • Review, deploy and scale-up

I invested a lot of time with the senior engineer in the first and last phases. This continued for a couple of significant projects, grooming the senior engineer on specific areas like how to estimate a project, breaking it down into agile stories, taking ownership for deliverables, unblocking team members and improving team velocity.

Needless to mention about the monthly 1:1s that took place between the senior engineer and me. Giving him the necessary feedback to bring him on the right track was required. The good part was that he positively took the input and followed back on the necessities to improve on it. Although our relationship with each other was very formal, he would always reach out to me in case of a complex situation he was being faced with. Over a period of two quarters, he was all set to take up the charge and lead independently without me getting involved in day-to-day operations.

Lessons learned

  • Invest in the internal team. Although I had the authority to hire an external experienced leader, I intentionally did not choose to do that. Investing in a senior engineer who the team looks up to and grooming them to the next level definitely boosts team morale.
  • Be tactful in choosing and nurturing the second-line leaders. A wrong decision can create a lot of disparity in the team.
  • Always lead by example. This would keep you on your toes for a while but you'll be paid back ten-fold. Eventually, the team starts imitating your leadership skills.

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