Scoring and personal development plans: cookbook
In December 2020, Raiffeisen Bank decided to score two product managers, find the ways of their professional advancement, and design personal development plans. Internal experts had no ready-made program for evaluating both soft and hard skills, no time to figure it out, and no confidence in quality — so they turned to TYPICAL for help, fresh perspective, and unconventional approach.
TYPICAL completed Raiffeisen Bank's mission in a month. We applied our methodology — evaluated the two product managers' skills and potential, elaborated individual development plans and recommendations on which hard and soft skills to focus. We provided top-managers with a structured report and discussed results with each product manager one-on-one. The team decided what recommendations to focus on and and discovered how to integrated our strategies in the work flow.
VC.RU: How to evaluate product managers and make individual development plans: Raiffeisen Bank and TYPICAL
Anastasia Minetto — co-founder and CEO at TYPICAL
Valeria Rozov — founder and business lead at TYPICAL
Denis Ivanov — clinical psychologist
Pavel Rubakhin — certified scrum product owner at Raiffeisen Bank
Vitaly Lavrinets — CDO at Raiffeisen Bank
Svetlana Pavlenova — lead evaluation officer at Raiffeisen Bank
Anton Shirshakov — senior product manager at Raiffeisen Bank
Andrey German — product manager at Raiffeisen Bank
What is Raiffeisen Bank about
Raiffeisen Bank is a subsidiary of the Austrian banking group Raiffeisen Bank International. In Russia since 1996. The main directions of the company include corporate, investment, and retail business.
Raiffeisen Bank has a complex body where large cross-functional teams work for common business goals. One of them, Instant & Easy, is aimed to improve digital services of retail customers. To make it work efficiently, the company needed to evaluate their product managers' skills, potential and create their personal development plans.
Leaders constantly communicate with the team members and understand their strengths and weaknesses, but distant eyes always see deeper, so Raiffeisen Bank asked TYPICAL for help.
"We wanted to create efficient development plans for our two product managers. For this, we needed to understand where they were and what skills they lacked. I constantly communicate with the team face-to-face and know its members' strengths and weaknesses. But being too close to the project means that one day you get your eyes swimming — we needed a fresh look from the outside and turned to TYPICAL with a request to conduct an independent evaluation."
Pavel Rubakhin — CSPO of Raiffeisen Bank
We used our methodology to evaluate product managers and design their personal development plans. First, we recommended leaders to bone up the team for evaluation — to assure that the process will be confidential and transparent. Next, we evaluated product managers’ soft and hard skills via resumes, test cases, and two separate interviews — one focused on soft skills and the other one on hard ones. Finally, we analyzed all the information, elaborated personal development plans out, and presented them first — to the team, and next — to each product manager individually.
"I've been watching the process inside and out and pleasantly surprised that Vitaly and Valeria spoke the same language from the very first meeting and immediately approved the list of skills to test. This synergy has been in the air all the time, even during the filial meeting."
Svetlana Pavlenova — lead evaluation officer of Raiffeisen Bank
Evaluation: Background Work
Efficient evaluation requires significant background work — each person has an unstable self-image and feels vulnerable when it comes to scoring. To prevent this, leads need to provide the team with safety conditions — confidentiality, transparency, and motivation.
To keep the results of evaluation confidential, the company should assume security measures and explain them to the team in detail.
To keep employees away from anxiety, they should be told:
- what evaluation process is like;
- what is being evaluated;
- by what criteria;
- how the results will be used.
To boost player’s interest in evaluation, they need to understand why they need to pass it and what benefits they will get.
According to Denis Ivanov, a clinical psychologist, evaluation will be less stressful if the team works in comfortable conditions and feels supported. For this, companys' leaders should encourage employees' openness, favor initiative, and thank them for the readiness to trust and cooperate.
"Most of us are touchy about evaluation for several reasons. Evolutionary, we seek approval to feel safe: when you are accepted, you will not die. A traumatic childhood experience also plays a part — we equate achievements with our worth. Accordingly, evaluation's consequences can affect a person outside the office, so it is important to remember that each employee has a different stress tolerance limit and should be prepared for the procedure."
Denis Ivanov — clinical psychologist
Evaluated Hard and Soft Skills
Followed TYPICAL Methodology
To evaluate Anton and Andrey, we applied our methodology based on 400 interviews with product managers. We constantly improve it, add and decompose skills, for example:
- We used to test research skills, but they didn’t guarantee that a candidate was able to apply them in practice to improve the product. So, we identified the distinct skill of systemic testing, hypotheses and iterative improvement of the product.
- Sometimes employees, highly-scored by us, were rejected by startups. We found out they don't follow trends and innovative approaches to product management — that's crucial for startups. So, we started to evaluate «up-to-dateness» — the ability to analyze and apply trends in work.
What makes our evaluation frank? It is regimented, based on stages, and thoroughly explained. The scale goes from 0 to 10. For example, 8 points mean that the candidate uses the skill, understands how developed it is, and improves it. He demonstrates this skill during the interview and can describe 3+ cases of its application. 9 points are awarded to a candidate who knows what has helped him nurture this skill, understands its importance, and can teach his team to develop it.
Checked Product Managers' CVs
To get the idea of product managers' experience and to hypotheses. For example, one of the product managers used to work in international companies, so he is likely to get along with people of different cultures. Consequently, his soft skills are higher. To test this idea, we prepared more complex communication cases.We studied product managers' CVs to understand what
Gave Test Cases
Pavel and Vitaly provided us with resumes and background information, so we initially evaluated product managers' levels and based on our initial hypothesis we have chosen test cases — we have a bank of 50+ test cases, sorted by skills and difficulty. For example, part of the case was: to understand the trends and dynamics of the food-tech market, forecast its development, and give recommendations to its players.
Test cases for the both candidates were the same and made of 4 parts to check:
- abilities to work with a strategy, conduct research, draw conclusions, build communication, and present work results;
- analytical abilities and the talent to make financially prudent product decisions’
- stakeholders management and consistent problem-solving skills;
- teamskills, leadership, and independence.
All test cases show how candidates structure thoughts, but cases are not aimed at skills-testing only: employees get involved in the process, acquaint themselves with us, and even get an opportunity to design more precise interview questions.
Conducted Hard and Soft Skills Interviews
Dialogues with each candidate lasted for three hours. During the interview, we evaluated such hard skills as:
- systematic hypothesis testing;
- product design;
- development management;
- structural problems solving.
Then, we tested such soft skills as:
- stakeholders control;
- outside-the-box thinking;
We divided questions into three blocks — theoretical, about experience, and cases.
Theoretical questions showed how employees investigate their experiences and convert them into skills and knowledge — if a person is not good at analyzing, he is not likely to state decisions and teach others.
We reviewed each employee's CV and prepared intro questions about experience, career, and achievements. During the dialogue, we discussed in detail what skills they used, how they developed products and worked with metrics — any person can tell «how things should be done», but, in practice, demonstrate a lack of consistency.
To see how a person is solving work problems during the interview, we prepared cases with an emphasis on product design. With each product manager, we studied 3+sites and discussed them in detail. For example, with one candidate we chose edtech — he analyzed Skillbox, Bang Bang Education, and Netology sites from the perspective of business objectives and client requests.
We Presented Results
After checking hard and soft skills, we analyzed them and created individual development plans. They included evaluation of strengths and weaknesses and recommendations for boosting skills. The results were presented in two stages:
- We talked to the management — Svetlana, Vitaly, and Pavel. They got acquainted with the results and discussed them with the team.
- We spoke with each product manager face-to-face and pointed out:
- fundamental insights and conclusions;
- personal strengths;
- growth zones.
"With no expectations to tease me, I wanted to get an honest skills evaluation and discover whether the professional's eyes see the same picture as I do. Next, I planned to analyze the results and build my development plan up."
Anton Shirshakov — senior product manager of Raiffeisen Bank
What we Focused on
We work transparently: it makes no sense to tell leaders one thing and another to the person. Our target is to evaluate the team accurately and identify characteristics that will help employees to maximize their potential. For example, it turned out that one of the product managers had the integrator type of leadership. We advised him whom to work with and what kinds of test cases to solve to follow the management track.
By Raiffeisen Bank
Experts See Deeper
We confirmed our observations and guesses, but the depth of the analysis exceeded our expectations. It enabled us to explore the report with product managers, sort out priorities, and understand what is important for the bank and them personally.
Help Boosts the Process
The process of evaluating and creating development plans took only a month, despite the holidays: on December 30, we had our first meeting with Valeria and determined the focus of the work, on February 2 and 4, product managers received the results.
Psychotherapist’s Advice is Efficient
The psychotherapist advised us to explain product managers that we go after the common goal — to find the ways of their professional advancement. They opened up and frankly shared their thoughts and rueful feelings.
Experts' Advice is Precise
The product managers received honest skills evaluation and found out how professionals' gaze differs from what they see. Development plans included specific books, courses, and suggestions on how to master particular skills during the work process.
Multifaceted Approach Boosts Results
Although most clients are not ready for a multifaceted approach, the results are better when we follow our methodology.
Team Helps to Strike the Right Note
If a client provides you with details about its employees, you will not waste time figuring out approaches to them. Raiffeisen Bank’s leaders and HR gave us advice on how to get on well with Andrey and Anton, what to focus on, and how to submit the material.
"I truly enjoyed working with the guys and sincerely believe that Raiffeisen Bank has one of the friendliest teams on the market, both in HR and CPO. My conviction was confirmed: the results are top-quality when we thoroughly follow our methodology and don't cut it in pieces. Clients ready for an integrated approach are one in a million."
Valeria Rozova — founder and business lead of TYPICAL