Inter-team Tourism – a journey towards growth in Allegro
Retaining employees in the company for longer periods of time can be challenging, especially in the IT world. In the article "Software Engineers in Seattle Switch Job Every Two Years" (Hackerlife.co), the median tenure in some of the most renowned IT companies in the world (including Facebook, Microsoft, Google) is shown to be an average of 2.5 years. Is there a reason why we start seeking change after this time? It's not uncommon to reach a point where we hit a "ceiling." I often hear from candidates that they've achieved everything they could within a particular company, focusing on vertical promotion options. But is that the only way to improve our skills and seek something new in our daily work? Certainly not. We often forget or may not have the opportunity to explore horizontal advancement, which means changing positions "sideways" in the corporate hierarchy.
Horizontal change can involve taking on a completely different role, such as moving from marketing to programming, or a very similar position, differing only in the leading technology, such as moving from a Front-end role to Mobile Developer. In any case, this is a decision that often involves starting something almost from scratch, as you need to expand your skills and settle into a new role. There may be concerns about "What if, after a while, I don't like the role, feel it's not right, and want to go back to my previous position?" These concerns can discourage employees from making the change. So what can be done to encourage them to experiment with other positions in the organization? Allowing time, the necessary support, and choice.
Inter-team Tourism - an opportunity to exchange knowledge
From this perspective, inter-team tourism is mainly aimed at creating a space for the exchange of knowledge between teams, so that when an employee returns to his or her original area of expertise, he or she is richer in the good practices and strategies used in the project in which he or she came to work during the past weeks. This is an opportunity to observe the work of others and learn about their style of working on the job or compare methods of making improvements. It can also broaden the team's knowledge of the specifics of other Allegro business areas and the relationships between them. This can lead to gaining fresh insights into existing problems and implementing work methods used by other teams. The goal of inter-team tourism is for both parties to benefit from the exchange, so a team that "gains" an additional person for a period of time can delegate some tasks to him or her and benefit from his or her fresh perspective on specific challenges.
For the employee, it is a kind of break from his daily tasks, getting out of his comfort zone and what he has been familiar with so far. If the employee feels that he is getting into a rut and would like to try his hand at a different project, but in the same area/technology in which he works every day, this is also a great opportunity to experiment - each project means different challenges, different people, so also new experiences. During inter-team tourism, the employee joins a new team, participates in joint meetings, and works on specific tasks. Above all, however, he satisfies his need to develop and gain knowledge within the organization.
“In my area, there was a need to work closely with a team of HR Business Partners. Together with the leader, we agreed that inter-team tourism could be a good tool to build relationships with members of this team and better understand the specifics of their work. Besides, it's also a great growth opportunity for me, because I can see in practice what the role of an HR Business Partner is all about - what kind of tasks they face, who they work with, and what competencies are key in this position. If I were thinking about a change in the future, and open recruitment came up, I would have an idea of what might await me.”
Karolina Sulek - Senior Learning and Development Specialist
Inter-team Tourism - a career boost
This perspective is aimed at people who do not want to continue advancing on their current path and are thinking about a kind of "pivot" in their career. In this situation, Allegro gives the employee the opportunity to see how he or she would fit into another project before deciding to change the area or location of his or her job permanently. In this way, what usually involves a great deal of stress and risks for the employee, becomes achievable and less complicated. When with long projects and a lot of experience an employee's monotony creeps in and tasks become repetitive, inter-team tourism is a chance for diversity, but also gaining a different experience and expanding one's project portfolio.
“I was looking for a place where I would feel that I was doing something I was really interested in. After studying and taking career counseling tests, I decided that I wanted to make a change and continue my development path in HR. I began to take an interest in the areas we have at Allegro. I found the Learning and Development department and it was a perfect place for me. An opportunity to work on a project in this department has just came up. I am currently preparing for an inter-team tourism that will start in a few days. It is intended to help me gain information about this field. I know what I'm interested in, and now I can put it into practice to see if I actually like it.”
Gabriela Sobkowska - Junior Project Specialist
When we think about getting out of our comfort zone, doubts often arise. We prefer to get to know something, experience it for ourselves, and only after that decide to make a change. Should making such important decisions as a career change involve stress and risk? It doesn't have to - all it takes is proper preparation, checking the available options, and spreading it out over time.
If not inter-team tourism then what?
At Allegro, we have many more opportunities for growth, which we can tailor to our own career stage and learning preferences. This is important to us because we want to be a place that gives employees room to face challenges, but also a chance to expand their horizons. Which path an employee chooses is up to him or her. It resembles a "buffet", where from the available options we can choose the ones that "taste" best to us. Working at Allegro, in addition to participating in interesting projects that develop us through practice, we can also benefit from a wide range of substantive, managerial, and personal training. We also have the opportunity to develop as trainers, mentors, and speakers at conferences in Poland and around the world. Our in-house training platform, MindUp, is a range of training courses and workshops, as well as language classes and postgraduate studies subsidized by the company. The best proof that at Allegro we like to reach for new knowledge are the internal trainings conducted in 2021 (458 to be exact), which were attended by a total of 4,107 people. But again, that's not all.
We often organize internal hackathons, themed days focused on specific technologies (e.g. Mobile Day) and once a year Allegro engineers meet at the Allegro Tech Meeting, a conference that for the past 15 years has been a perfect space for sharing knowledge and experiences from the projects they face every day. Last year's edition alone consisted of 75 presentations that interested nearly 1,300 people.
Growth at Allegro? When it comes to it, it's worth remembering that the number and quality of available solutions go hand in hand here. But this is just one of the many reasons why 84% of employees consider Allegro a great place to grow
Unlocking new possibilities with inter-team tourism in Allego
What is one of the most common reasons candidates give for changing jobs during recruitment interviews? Certainly, a familiar phrase to recruiters, heard at almost every interview is "the desire to grow." It's only natural that we seek change when we want to feel that we are not standing still. When we lack that, we start looking around at what the market offers, less often at what the organization we are already in offers.
Inter-team tourism at Allegro is a bottom-up mentoring and job rotation program where employees have the opportunity to change teams for a period ranging from one week to three months. After that time, they can choose to either return to their previous team or apply to a new team with firsthand experience and knowledge of its area of operation - if, of course, the new team is recruiting for the position.
How and when to go on inter-team tourism?
Already knowing the idea behind inter-team tourism, you may be wondering how it is organized. Starting from the very beginning, it should be mentioned that the initiative can come from two sides - both from the employee who is looking for a change, and from the team leader who cares about developing specific competencies in the team and keeping employees engaged and motivated. At Allegro, a leader is a person who is in constant contact with his or her team members, supporting them in defining and pursuing development goals. So if a leader sees potential for growth and change, he or she can suggest such an option to a member of his or her team. At Allegro, it is available for any employee of the company whose seniority in the organization is over 1 year.
Once an agreement has been reached on the intention to take part in tourism, the employee should find a team that he or she would like to join. This can be supported by a Slack channel, where both "candidates" and "teams" advertise. Below you can see a sample message from a person who offers job rotation in his team.
Source: Allegro's own materials
Once we have found a leader who will take us under the wing of his team, it is crucial to have a meeting of the three parties (the current leader, the future leader, and the employee), during which the main principles of tourism will be established. At this stage, it is also key to determine the tasks that the employee will face and include them in a summary of all the arrangements - the contract. This is done with the main goal of inter-team tourism in mind. For example, it could be gaining skills in programming in another technology to expand one's technology stack. Another example is learning new practices in effective project management. Yet another - to observe what it is like to work in a different area. Only after the goal is established will it be possible to estimate how long it will potentially take to achieve it, i.e. how long the exchange will take. However, it is necessary to take into account that during the course of the exchange, something unexpected may happen in the project, which will result in an increase in the time needed to achieve the target. Thus, when planning inter-team tourism, we need to remember to maintain a certain time margin.
What kind of availability does job rotation require of us? This, of course, depends. It is possible to establish with the leader the option of completely "disappearing" from the team for its time, so as not to neglect its business needs, but a common solution is to divide the work time between two teams, on a "week here, week there" or hourly system. It all depends on the arrangements with the current and future leaders.
Once we take decide on our goal and time, it is equally important to think about the effect we want to achieve, what we want to work out, and what tasks we want to complete. Already knowing when, for how much time, for what purpose, and what team we will join, we usually have a moment to make preparations that can make it easier for us. We can also ask for a list of training courses or books that will further introduce us to the characteristics of future tasks. The Allegro-wide MindUp platform also comes to our aid here.
After finishing the inter-team tourism, the employee should summarize the time he spent on development - reflect on what he learned, what it enabled him to do, and how he wants to use the knowledge he gained in the future. If the employee decides to return to his previous team, he should, in a form of his own choosing, share his new knowledge with them. This is a good way to maximize the benefits of internal mobility and a chance for others to learn something interesting.
Martyna Stafa, Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist
An experienced recruiter with over five years of experience in the industry. Supporter of caring for the highest quality of candidate experience. Enthusiastically involved in the pursuit of improvement and optimization of processes.