An Approach to Hiring, Evaluating and Retaining the Right Team

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This matrix was created as a few key management members were deciding how to improve our processes to better help our team. Our agenda for the day was to really help every team member understand their role and responsibility within the team. Giving the team clarity was something we considered very important for our next trajectory of growth and performance as a team.

However, as we delved deeper into the issue of defining, we were confused as managers whether to define responsibilities for different experience levels or responsibilities for different team members. What we had observed over the duration of 3 years was that in any successful project of ours, the years of experience did not really matter for any member. We had observed that a fresher who was trained at our company very often performed better than someone with 3 years of experience in a given task / project.

Over the course of our conversations we realized we kept talking more about processes & responsibilities in the context of 1. Individual team members, 2. Talent 3. Passion.

That’s when we struck up on what we think would allow us to effectively as managers evaluate our current team, help understand which direction they are headed and how we can help them get there or change routes. We also in the process understood as managers what we needed to do and who we needed to help.

The answer to helping the team perform better was not in defining responsibilities or assigning roles but in recognizing where the team member was (irrespective of years of experience), which direction they were headed, where we want them to go or predict they will go and how we can help.

A little about us – We are a boutique customized tech shop who’s focused on helping clients execute on their vision using tech as an enabler. Currently, we are a team of 25 odd members - all from a diverse background, area of expertise and in some cases working remotely. We are planning to role out this matrix as a tool for every member to chart out his / her own career. 

TT-Team Formation Matrix + TT-Individual Evaluation Matrix


As you read through the below – Follow the steps below:

1.      If you are an individual –

a.    Put an objective for yourself and where you want to be.

b.    Put yourself within the matrix

c.    Identify where you think you are headed – in a solid line

d.    Maybe put some of your colleagues in the matrix as well

e.    Identify which direction you want to go – in a dashed line.

f.      Now, write down what you need to do to stay on the same course / course correct. Based on your colleagues you will learn where you think different people are and understand what you need to do to get there.


2.    If you are a manager of a small team –

a.    Put an objective and a goal for what you want your team to achieve.

b.    Put your team members on the map.

c.    Draw the direction they are headed in your opinion – in a solid line

d.    Draw the direction you want them to go – in a dashed line

e.    Now, write down the things you need to do to and the amount of time you or someone needs to spend with the team member to help then.


Remember – this matrix can be used for the following:

1.      To put together a team for a new project. You need people in different squares based on your timeline, targets and other resource constraints.

2.    To evaluate your team at the start, mid, end of your project

3.    To evaluate yourself at every juncture.

a.    If you are an individual – it will help you make sure you are tracking against your career map.

b.    If you are a manager – it will help you understand your effectiveness in helping your team improve.

4.    Suggest objective and subjective things that will help improve the talent within your team.

5.    Help give clarity to people in an easily understandable & manageable way. This may lead to better awareness on management and individual sides, clarity, performance and retention of a team member.

6.    Identify paths which are crossing, identify issues in team dynamics, and team culture.

7.    Provide timely help as a manager.

8.    Lots, Lots & Lots of other benefits.


WHATS YOUR OBJECTIVE (HIRING, EVALUATION, CAREER GROWTH, NEW PROJECT, ETC.)? _____________________________________________



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 Person A: __________________

Person B: __________________

Person C: __________________

Person D: __________________

The TT Hiring, Performing & Evaluation Matrix - EXPLAINED

 1.     The Matrix – The BASICS

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TALENT (High / LOW) – A person can either be very talented in what you want his / her role to be or just getting started. Talent can be defined as whatever it takes to get the job done.

PASSION (High / LOW) – A person can either be very passionate in what you he / she is doing or not. Passion, unlike talent, needs to be more than just for the person’s job description. It needs to be in a similar field but not in the currently assigned job.

BYSTANDER -  A person who is low on talent and passion at the moment. This is a person who usually is new to the team and no one is sure what he / she is bringing to the table and whether he / she will contribute to the overall success of the team. By nature of hiring – a bystander may also be a fresher or a young team member who has relatively no experience in getting the job done.

ENTHUSIAST -  A person who is low on talent but high on passion at the moment. This is a person who usually is well versed with things happening around him / her and always inquisitive and curious to know more. This person will not probably add much value to the team’s goal but will help build a good culture. In moments of stress, the enthusiast will come out ahead in making sure everyone doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture. By nature of hiring – a bystander may also be a fresher or a young team member who has relatively no experience in getting the job done but is well aware of his / her industry.

EXECUTIONIST -  A person who is low on passion but high on talent at the moment. This is a person who usually will be help delivering the results of the team. The person is focused and goal-oriented, methodical and always looking for ways to improve his / her understanding in the job he / she performs. The person is constantly trying to better himself / herself. An executionist by virtue of talent can always be trusted to get the job done and in crunch time to deliver results. By virtue of hiring, an executionist could be a domain expert or someone who wants to eventually be one.

BRAINSTORMER -  A person who is high on passion and high on talent at the moment. This is a person who usually will always be intellectually curious and focused on the bigger picture. The brainstormer will always find creative ways to get the job done – however not always in a given timeframe as an executionist. Depending on the talent – the brainstormer will however always usually lead to a better outcome if timelines are more flexible. The brainstormer will usually be someone who is always ahead of the team and sometimes mis-aligned with what it needs to get to success. By virtue of hiring, a brainstormer is someone who usually can speak on a variety of topics usually more than his / her defined role. A brainstormer would usually be the most self-managed / independent person in the team because he / she has asked / will continue to ask all the questions and from all angles to operate independently.

2.    The Matrix – The MOVEMENT

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A person in every square is looking to move in some direction. Usually, the person doesn’t even realize he / she is moving in a direction which may not even be in the team’s best interest or his / her individual career interest.

Helping identify where the person is within this matrix and where he / she is expected to head at the start of a new team / project can help improve the success ratio of the endeavor.

In terms of pace – usually going up the matrix is a little easier initially until you get close to the top. Once you reach the top, it requires a person to put in time and effort to improve. Going to the right of the matrix is a very hard exercise. To do so from an executionist to a brainstormer is even significantly harder. 

BYSTANDER – A newcomer bystander should ideally progress really quickly to one of the squares. In the event he / she doesn’t, chances are he / she may leave the team.

ENTHUSIAST – A person from here will either improve his / her talent or may lose it due to lack of results and eventually become a bystander.

EXECUTIONIST – A person in this square usually understands what job needs to be done and knows everything on an operational side to get the job done. This person would usually just continue down the road to become a domain expert. To build passion outside of his / her field in this person will be an uphill task and sometimes may not even be important for the company or him / her to do more than the job at hand in the best possible way.

BRAINSTORMER – This person usually has seen the bigger picture and is debating the future of his / her own job. Since this person is showing direction to the team, the person maybe focused on research of things not important to the job at hand. In some cases, a person may focus and start exceling in the job at hand if given the right push.

3.    The Matrix – The COURSE ADJUSTMENT

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A manager should focus on wearing different hats depending on the segment the individual team member is. In the event the individual is evaluating himself / herself, the individual should ask for the right manager who can help him / her achieve targets.

BYSTANDER – A bystander typically just needs to be observed. Not too much time should be spent here because the person requires to be vetted across different jobs and conversations to identify a better place for the person to go. However, if a bystander does not move past this square, the bystander should receive a warning and eventually removed from the company.

ENTHUSIAST – An enthusiast typically takes up a majority of the manager’s time. And there’s nothing wrong! This square is where most information and knowledge can be soaked in. It should be a manager’s prerogative to give time and help the person answer any doubts that may arise or be an obstacle in his / her ability to get the job done.

EXECUTIONIST – An executionist typically does not need much attention, time or direction in the job at hand. However, this person will always need clarity on what may impact his / her job at a given point in time. The person needs help to avoid any surprises. Motivating an executionist can help them become more passionate about the job at hand. At a later stage, an executionist will typically need to be retained and should be coined as an in-house domain expert in the particular job completed.

BRAINSTORMER – A brainstormer does not consume too much time because he / she has thought of all possible hindrances to a particular issue. A brainstormer should be nurtured to hone in on a talent as well as focus on the next steps for the team or research since that will drive the user experience tomorrow. Retaining a brainstormer and providing the learnings (he / she needs to keep the intellectual curiosity is going) will ensure this person in the future becomes a leader.