In this edition of Digging Deeper, we sat down with Valentina and Jelena, members of our Human Resources department, and got them to tell us more about the team, their work, projects, challenges and the overall story of Human Resources at Bornfight.
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Let’s get straight to the core. What is it that you, as a part of the Human Resources team, actually do?
JELENA: Well, generally speaking, our role is to ensure that every position at Bornfight is occupied by an ideal specialist, the right person for the job as the saying goes. This means that a specific person in a specific position should be competent, efficient, engaged and happy. That is our main mission, and everything we do is aligned with it — achieving and maintaining that setup.
In addition to that, we also have one general goal, and that is ensuring that every person that joins Bornfight gets everything they need in order to become the people and professionals they desire to be. To maximize their potential!
Oh, that sounds amazing. Now tell me a bit more about some specific activities you conduct…
VALENTINA: OK, there’s an entire plethora of activities that we do — from attracting new employees to ensuring they’re happy and engaged. There’s the process of analyzing numerous job positions and setting up the organizational structure, conducting various employer branding activities, then there’s the entire recruitment process that consists of job selections, sourcing, head-hunting, testing, interviews… And once the selection process for a specific position is done, then we start with the onboarding process where our new employees get to know the ins and outs of the company, which is then followed by a set of continuous activities that are used to increase and maintain employee satisfaction and performance.
In addition to this set of activities, we also have a specific set that is focused on building and improving our team leads and heads of departments — this is where they learn new leadership skills and what’s expected from them in a team lead role.
Another set of our activities revolves around managing internal events such as team buildings, company birthdays, various happenings… and all of that is connected through a set of activities focused on boosting internal communication and maximizing transparency. The goal here is to ensure that key information reaches all of the employees as quickly as possible.
OK, that’s a lot of activities… I would assume that you aren’t doing all of them… one gets the first half, the other gets the second, or?
VALENTINA: Yeah, we have our main focuses, and each of us spearheads a certain set of activities, but we also make sure that we always know what the other is doing, so that we can quickly jump in and assist each other with whatever task we’re handling at the moment.
JELENA: Exactly… for example, some of my focuses are employee development and team lead development, as well as performance monitoring and management. In addition to that, I handle the feedback process, as well as the process of monitoring employee satisfaction, engagement and the overall pulse check of the company.
You see, transparency is one of the core values of our company, so we regularly check what our employees think about some new process, reorganization, some events that happened… and we use those insights to create new actionables that will result in the overall improvement of our company.
Could you give me some specific examples of activities related to employee and team lead development?
JELENA: A majority of our employee development is organized as an “on-the-job development”, and conducted through Job Enrichment as well as by adding Stretch Assignments and Projects. Since the tasks our employees do are quite diverse and have different levels of complexity, even the most senior employees who have been here the longest can encounter some aspects of the job that they (or we as a company) have never done. This is partly because of the industry in which we work, but also due to the fact that we are constantly expanding the range and complexity of our services, and we improve and upgrade existing ones.
We can divide these activities into 2 groups — mandatory activities that have a formalized process, and optional activities. Mandatory activities are, for example, Quality Time meetings that are conducted at least 6 times per year, then there are our structured biannual meetings about professional development that are conducted every 6 months and we also implemented Feedback360 for team leads.
Let me just briefly touch upon the Quality Times and our biannual professional development meetings. Quality Times are one on one meetings that are conducted between team leads and team members, where they go over various topics such as activities and goals, problems and issues, achievements and satisfaction, praise and recognition… In addition to setting up the entire concept and the format of these meetings, we also constantly work on implementing new upgrades and ensuring they are regularly conducted.
As for our biannual meetings about professional development — these are also one on one meetings between team leads and team members, but they are much more structured and they cover the entire aspect of professional development. Everything from giving and receiving feedback and analyzing what skills have the team members learned since the previous meet to new responsibilities they took upon themselves, as well as what they need in order to advance even faster and reach the next seniority level.
Each of these meetings ends with the creation of a personalized plan for professional development that is connected to the seniority guide we created a few months ago and which states exactly what each person is expected to achieve in order to reach a certain position and level of seniority.
As I already mentioned, in addition to these mandatory activities, we also implemented a set of optional activities that are conducted when an employee has a need for them. These activities include internal and external training and educations, mentorships and job shadowings, as well as a variety of lateral moves and task or job rotations where our employees have a chance to explore some of their interests — for example, see what would it be like to work in another department or with some new technology.
Valentina, so what are your focuses?
VALENTINA: Well, my main focus is the selection process and the overall optimization of the selection process — I handle everything from the initial setup, advertising, psychological testing, interviews…
I also handle the onboarding process. It’s my job to ensure that it’s being continuously conducted for all of the new employees, and that it is constantly optimized and upgraded to make it more efficient and overall better — this is done based on the needs of the organization and the feedback we gather from new employees who go through the onboarding.
In addition to that, I also handle the administrative aspects of employing new people and making sure everything is done by the book — I have to thank our legal support which makes this a breeze. And the last part is internal communication, I mentioned it a bit earlier, but let me just get into some specifics — one of the biggest elements of this part of our work are Bornfight Syncs. They are a kind of an ‘open forum’ meeting where the entire Bornfight gets together at least once a month and then we go through all of the latest things that happened, talk about future plans for the company and where anyone can openly and transparently ask any question and get an answer to it.
The things we covered now were mostly long-term and continuous activities. What are some of your short-term goals, what are you working on now?
JELENA: We’re quite flexible and we usually shift our short-term goals every couple of months. Currently, that would be bringing in more senior employees and conducting a set of various employer branding activities to better showcase the benefits of Bornfight as a company. Additionally, we also started a couple of specific activities whose goal is to help our employees reach a higher level of seniority — we have clearly defined expectations for each seniority level, we create personalized development plans for each employee and they can all get specific educations and mentorship that can help them achieve everything that’s expected from them.
You see, creating that seniority guide a few months ago was just the first step — these activities are the main part because we want to enable all of our team members to continuously gain more knowledge, more skills and more responsibilities because that will allow them to constantly grow and improve. And that is a win-win situation because more senior employees can also take on more complex projects and in turn help the entire Bornfight grow even faster.
Another one of our short-term goals is to further improve Bornfight’s level of internal and external transparency. As I already said, that is one of our main values and we constantly work on it — this seniority guide we mentioned and the list of our pay grades we published some time ago were just the start. And that is one of Bornfight’s biggest benefits — we share with others the information that would in some other company be known only by the managing board or just the CEO.
And the final one would be team lead development — we created for them a specific set of responsibilities and activities they should conduct with the members of their team, and we’re basically structuring the way a person becomes a team lead.
Excellent, excellent. Let’s switch it up a bit… what would you say are some of HR’s standout projects?
VALENTINA: One of our standout projects is certainly a set of activities we call ‘low to great performance’ — it’s been quickly accepted by all of the teams and it really proved to be working wonders. This project is basically a set of activities that help our people who get into a bit of a slump and whose performance starts decreasing. The reasons for this decrease in performance are different — some might have a difficult time getting used to working remote during this current period, others might experience some problems on their projects, there are maybe some outside factors… whatever the case, with these low to great activities, we pinpoint them, work on minimizing their effects or neutralizing them completely, and then help the person come back to their standard level of performance and even go beyond it.
It’s great because it’s easily applicable to anyone, and the best thing is that it started as our mini, side project, but it really blew up and became one of our stronger tools.
Another project, we already mentioned it but we can do it again, is the creation of our onboarding process. This was a big project that took a lot of time, we worked on it with the Project Management team, we conduct it with the support of all the teams at Bornfight and it’s still being constantly improved. And it achieves the goals we set for it!
JELENA: I have one… I mean, it’s not a project itself, but an element of one — and it’s a very important part of Bornfight and something only a small number of companies even have. It’s the fact that all of our promotions based on our seniority guide are calibrated and synchronized across all departments and teams.
We created a very simple process that happens before a person’s promotion — that person’s team lead meets with other team leads and explains why that specific member of their team is ready for the next seniority level. And then other team leads can discuss and approve the promotion based on the specific expectations from the seniority guide.
By doing that, we ensure that everything is transparent and that everybody goes against the same baseline, but we also prevent potential situations such as having people from one department advance quickly and people from another not advancing at all because maybe a team lead in the second department is extremely strict and demanding, while the first one is a complete opposite.
We talked about advancements and promotions in other teams. Let’s talk about advancements and promotions in the HR team…
VALENTINA: I mean, it works just as it works in any other team. Yeah, we don’t yet have specific specializations, meaning that one of us will work only and exclusively on the selection process and nothing else. As we already said, we have our focuses, some of our primary tasks, projects and activities, but we can also try other things. I can talk with Jelena and say ‘I wanna join you in your activities regarding team lead development’, or she can take over a part of the onboarding process that I’m usually working on.
We can always try — if we want to learn something new, if we want to see how we stand in regards to specific activities, if we want to acquire some new skills… there are no limitations and we can try out new tasks, propose new projects, implement new processes. It’s all about supporting each other. So yeah, as I said, we don’t have specializations, we have focuses!
Let’s switch it up again. Tell me more about the mindset of the HR team… what’s the thing that drives you and pushes you forward?
JELENA: The thing I see the most within the HR team, and I find it extremely important, is that we really try to maximize our potential. And we use our potential to help others maximize theirs. That personal growth that boosts professional growth which ultimately leads to the growth of the entire company is a really strong drive for us.
You see, we constantly conduct new activities, share knowledge and go the extra mile if we see that it will result in our collective advancement.
VALENTINA: Yeah, I agree. This sharing, collaboration and willingness to help others is extremely important. And in addition to that, it’s also very important to have a positive and optimistic attitude — if something is good, well that’s awesome, if something fails, let’s see what can be better next time.
JELENA: One more crucial thing — being result-oriented. It’s always much easier to work with a person who wants to solve things instead of having a ‘this can’t be done’ mindset.
We currently have an open position for an HR generalist. What is that?
VALENTINA: As the name suggests, we’re looking for an experienced person who’ll be able to quickly onboard into all of the processes and activities that we’re conducting on a day to day basis. But as I said, since we all have focuses in the team, our goal with this selection is to find a person who has a bit more experience in employer branding and performance management, so they could spearhead those activities.
JELENA: Yeah, we’re looking for a person with more experience because we want someone who can basically ‘plug and play’, someone who knows how things are done and can quickly click with the team and help us implement new processes and activities, as well as upgrade existing ones. Of course, this new person will go through the onboarding to learn more about us and our processes, because we have all of it structured and very well documented and set up… but as we’re currently in the phase of expanding our list of activities, that extra experience, knowledge and skills will certainly be a big plus. And that’s why we’re looking for someone who’s got more of it.
So this new HR Generalist will basically have almost free reign when it comes to implementing new employer branding and performance management activities and processes?
JELENA: Basically, yes. Since we’re looking to shift our focus towards attracting more senior employees, and our employer branding activities have primarily been focused on juniors and mids, there will be a lot of new aspects that we’ll be looking to implement. And the same is also true for the performance management part.
OK, great. Last question — what would you say to potential candidates who are still on the fence, why should they apply, why should they join us, what can we offer to them?
JELENA: Well, first things first, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us… we’re down for an online/quarantine drink where we can get to know each other and cover anything you want to know.
As for the things that Bornfight can offer and why you should join us… communication, transparency and openness. The level of transparency that Bornfight nurtures among all of its members is something you won’t find in any other company. If that’s something you value, you’ll find that Bornfight is an ideal workplace for you.
As for communication and openness, it goes from the top down — from the CEO to every single member of the team, you’ll get support, you’ll get information, your ideas will be heard and you’ll get the chance to implement them and make the entire company better.
VALENTINA: I agree. If you like working in an agile and dynamic environment, if you’re positive and flexible, and you love building relationships, I think you’ll fit right in. So yeah, if this sounds good to you, we really want to get your application!
Well, all right, looks like we’re done!
And that’s been all for this edition of Digging Deeper.
If you’d like to join our team, send us your application.