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Episodes, Checkpoints, and the Career Roadmap: How Genesis sets goals and plans

One of Genesis' values ​​is Getting Things Done by focusing on results. This means that teams like to set ambitious goals and try different ways to achieve them. It is not only a team of like-minded people and interesting challenges that motivate us to focus on the result but planning in the company as well. The work of the teams is planned in short three-month intervals; everyone has goals for six months and a regular meeting with the manager promotes professional development. Together with Lyubov Goloveshko, HR Business Partner at Genesis, we discuss what awaits a professional after joining the company and how operational processes help build a career.

How the teams plan their work

Genesis is a company that co-founds product IT businesses. More than 20 companies have been born in our ecosystem, some of which have already become independent. Once launched, startups are provided with infrastructure, an environment of professional support, and resources to test ideas. So CEOs focus on product development and team building.

Planning in teams works with the same system, which is slightly adjusted depending on the specifics of a particular business. Its essence consists of setting ambitious goals – both global and quarterly ones. In Genesis, this is called an episode. The key word here is "ambitious" because interesting and large-scale challenges, which are also important to the team, help the business grow many times faster.

Once every three or six months, the teams organize a joint meeting of all departments (this one is called an episode as well), where the CEO and heads of key areas speak. The CEO outlines the goals that have been set for the company for three months and summarizes and shares future plans, goals, and perspectives with the team. Then the heads of departments present their results. They describe what the team tried to do, what they achieved, and what did not work out.

Before managers give speeches, I always recommend that they focus on the achievements of the team and individuals so that everyone understands the common goals and their individual contributions. In general, the episode meeting is a kind of full stop (or rather, a semicolon) at the end of the reporting period: Everyone understands what they have already gone through and sees where the company is going.

After determining the strategy for the next episode, leaders analyze the information they’ve received and share the goals between their teams.

How to set goals for employees

The global goal is set for a year. Aligned with it, managers form goals for each employee once every six months, taking into account the needs of the business and the career aspirations of the person. The employee can influence their own half-yearly tasks.

It is possible to achieve goals faster and more easily if they are simply and clearly formulated. The KPI (Key Performance Indicators) system is perfect for this. The main feature of the system is that success can be measured in numbers. However, there is also a drawback: KPIs do not always give the employee a transparent answer to the question: "Why am I doing this?" In this case, an OKR (Objective and Key Results) approach helps; the essence of this is to formulate a strategic goal for the employee and the steps necessary to achieve it.

The fact is that KPIs and OKRs in their classic form cannot suit everyone, so Genesis projects and companies have adapted frameworks for themselves. Employees have quantitative and quantitative-qualitative goals. For example, a designer's tasks may include the number of marketing creatives and the development of new branding. The developer's goals will be to implement new functionality and work with specific technologies. This approach helps them to prioritize daily decisions and feel their contribution to the product development.

However, there are cases when an employee does not achieve the set goals. There are various reasons for this.

Genesis has a golden rule: if something is not clear, it doesn't work, or you don't like it, say it right away. This way, the situation can be quickly fixed. There could be many reasons why a person did not cope with the assigned tasks: personal issues, unrealistic goals, or the idea did not find its target audience. According to Lyubov Goloveshko, in such a situation, it is important for the manager to analyze as early as possible why this happened, reflect on the situation together with the employee, and find ways to fix it.

The company's goals also change from time to time, as each business is working on a rapidly evolving product. If this happens, and the goals of a specific person lose relevance, they are reviewed and new ones are set.

Individual development plan

The HR manager and supervisor will help with the realization of career aspirations by writing down an individual development plan (IDP). This is a document that defines professional goals, methods, and deadlines for their achievement. Sometimes hard and soft skills are also outlined. Simply put, the IDP is a road map for building a career. The plan helps the employee grow more systematically and synchronize their professional desires with the company's goals.

An IDP is created in several cases. Lyubov Goloveshko highlighted some of these reasons: when an employee learns new technologies, moves to another position within the team, wants to become a team leader, or ascends a professional grade.

"There are situations when a candidate’s hard skills fit the position by, say, 60 percent, but they are very capable and seek growth; meanwhile, we have common views on teamwork and corporate culture. Then we can make an offer with the condition that, along with the main work tasks, the employee will have a personal development plan, according to which they will fill the gaps in knowledge," added the HR Business Partner. The classic IDP is divided into three parts:

  • Short-term goals for 1-3 months;

  • Medium-term goals for 3-6 months;

  • Long-term goals that take from six months to several years.

The initiator of the process can be both an employee and a manager. In a perfect scenario, it is the employee who drives the process, because they understand their ambitions and professional desires better. The manager, in turn, regularly gives the employee feedback and helps them achieve the set goals.

For example, if a person wants to move to a new position or increase their grade, the manager selects tasks that are compatible with the new role.

Business development directly depends on the development of employees. These two processes are impossible without each other. First, each employee can solve tasks of different complexity and cover new areas of responsibility in a new role. Secondly, professional development increases loyalty, reveals human potential, and strengthens the company's HR brand.

Communication with the manager

We wanted the employee to be on the same page with their manager, and the team to work really harmoniously, so Genesis introduced the practice of weekly one-on-one meetings called checkpoints. They let employees receive and provide feedback, build a trusting relationship with the manager, and ask for advice or discuss career growth. At the same time, the manager becomes familiar with how the employee feels at the company and how to help them.

The practice of checkpoints is widespread among tech companies. For example, each person at Meta (formerly Facebook) is entitled to half an hour of their manager's time each week. Similarly, Intel CEO Andrew Grove and Opsware CEO Ben Horowitz considered checkpoints to be one of the most important processes in their companies.

At Genesis, these meetings take place every week and last from 20 to 90 minutes depending on the topics to be discussed. For example:

  • whether everything is on track with daily work or whether they need the manager’s help;

  • who can help with a specific problem and share expertise at Genesis;

  • what drives the employee at work right now;

  • what inhibits development or what they would like to change;

  • working ideas or proposals that require time to discuss.

Список тем і питань для обговорення зазвичай формує працівник, тож до зустрічі треба готуватися заздалегідь. Також важливо фіксувати всі домовленості після неї. Чекпойнти не варто ігнорувати, адже це обов’язкова частина комунікації в компанії, безпечне місце для зворотного зв’язку, обговорення та вирішення різних питань.

Communication with the HR manager

Once every six weeks, Genesis employees have a one-on-one meeting with the HR manager. In contrast to checkpoints, there is less discussion of work tasks. Instead, the manager pays attention to feelings of well-being at work, relationships in the team, and career growth. The employee can ask the HR manager for advice or help with conflict resolution and, in general, come for things that can make professional life more comfortable.

How the results are analyzed

Work results are evaluated using the Performance Review method. The process takes place once every six months. Several components are taken into account:

  • Peer Review — feedback from colleagues;

  • Self Review — feedback on oneself;

  • Subordinate Review — an employee's feedback on the manager's work.

Usually, all stages of the review are carried out in one period and discussed at one meeting. The HR manager conducts a survey right beforehand which consists of open and closed questions. The employee must evaluate their work for the period (Self Review) while the colleagues with whom they interacted the most fill out an identical form (Peer Review). Colleagues provide feedback confidentially.

We pay attention to such competencies as initiative, communication, focus on results, flexibility, desire for self-development, and the ability to organize one's time. Peer reviews help us compare how much someone's own self-esteem overlaps with how they are seen by colleagues. Open comments shed light on the successes of the past six months, helping an employee understand which of their traits colleagues are grateful for and identify areas of growth to work on in the future.

"Answers are compared and discussed in a meeting where the employee, manager, and HR are present. My traditional questions are: How did these six months go? What important moments do you want to highlight? What are you proud of? What do you want to talk about? We conduct a retrospective and set goals for the next period and make changes to the employee's grade, position, or salary. If necessary, we take a break in order to draw up the IDP," Lyubov Goloveshko explained.

Therefore, the review helps the employee with a number of career decisions. All processes are connected and are designed to drive the growth of each employee – and the business in general.


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