The last part didn’t quite reach the reader’s hopes for ParknGo. You may have even thought, “I don’t know if the next part will see daylight at all..”. But here it is. And by no means in dark tones. Let’s take a closer look from where the sun started to shine on ParknGo or what has made them move!
“I would say that I am not overly dominant in ParknGo’s daily activities. I value balanced conversations and equal rights. But when everyone is quiet, I feel a responsibility to do something about it. So it was with the downtime, which you read about in the previous part.
I needed to get the fire burning again in the oven. But how do I know how any of us will get thrilled if I don’t know what type of “wood” someone is made of. I can think of all kinds of plans for progress, but in the end we will still reach the point where it becomes evident that a country is not formed only by me, it’s done by us together. I needed to understand who the people that are on the team are and what they think, how they function and how to make them sound cohesive like an orchestra. I decided to have one-on-one conversations with all of the team members. The aim of the conversations was to understand what kind of people we are, who is going to do what and what our vision of Parkngo is. I soon shared my idea with others.”
It seems that for Markus, conducting conversations is like a daily activity, but what did others think of the idea?
“Markus and I were walking down the stairs of EBS when Markus said that he had an idea that could help the team move forward better and more efficiently. He warned that this might sound a bit strange and funny. So I prepared myself and listened with interest. Turned out that Markus had been cooking a plan to have a conversation with all of the team members. With a slight smirk on his face, he said, “it would be like a kind of development interview.”
My first thought was, as I think the same for many. The development interview sounds exactly as we all remember it from elementary school. Two weeks before the conversation, you start to get nervous and think about what you’re even going to talk about there. Or what if the teacher asks questions that you absolutely don’t want to or can’t answer? You start to generate potential questions that the teacher might ask you and what, perhaps a little around the corner, would be the answer that would suit best. But obviously the purpose of the development interview is not to make you doubt yourself. It’s there to help you. It also helps others to better understand your world of thoughts and visions, desires and goals. The development interview is especially important to make a team more efficient and to divide the right subjects to the right people. This was also the main goal of our development interviews.
But how did I get used to the idea that a subject that had caused insecurity (actually without any proper reason) in my childhood would now suddenly be on the agenda again? When we first heard about the idea, it was still strange to think about why we should even have to have a formal and nerve-wracking conversation. We are friends and open with our communication between each other. Really, this is what it seemed like at first glance, but then I realized very quickly that this is exactly what we need – development talks! In meetings and in general, there is often no time to explain your views thoroughly to others. This was a previous problem that the development interview solved completely.
A structured, concrete and in-depth conversation provided an opportunity to share your thoughts and feelings. It was good to take some time off and to calmly explain your views. And all this in a relaxed environment, which was largely due to Markus’ professional approach. So the claim that development talks are a terrible thing is definitely not true. This experience proved the exact opposite! ”
“The development conversation, I liked it! I thought it was very nice to talk, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, when we don’t have much contact with people at all, and I find it very necessary from the team’s point of view. This way we understand what people in our team want and can do. It contributes a lot to the team’s cooperation and mutual understanding. The strengths and weaknesses and other things become evident, which need to be addressed. I can say that it provided us with a lot. It was nice to discuss and hear that the most important thoughts and views matched between us all – that’s how it ideally should be? I also believe that the development interview gave even more motivation to deal with the development of the company and to do something together with the team.
We prepared for the conversations relatively easily. At least I did. Markus gave us the points he wanted to talk about, and then we agreed on a specific time – nice and logical. Having worked through these points and made a small agenda for myself, I was ready to discuss all of the things that Markus wanted to discuss with me. I can even say with confidence that I was looking forward to it. In conclusion, I can say that development conversation is a completely normal thing, take it easy and speak of things as they are – your thoughts and opinions are yours and they are not wrong. I think it should be recurring from time to time to get a better idea of what has happened in the meantime and whether anything has changed. I would also like to mention that Markus did very well in leading and conducting the conversation. It is definitely a great place to give feedback on everything that is happening in the team. ”
“I think this conversation was necessary so that everyone would understand exactly what we should put the most emphasis on at the moment. Markus also gave me points by which I could prepare myself for the interview. We discussed whether the position I have currently taken at Parkngo is right for me and whether I am really interested in it. We also discussed my personal interests, strengths and skills. At one point, Markus asked me to pitch myself to Parkngo, which was a pretty hard thing to do. It’s quite difficult to write down how cool and how necessary you are to someone or something.
We also talked about my vision for ParknGo and what I think Parkngo might look like in five years. In conclusion, I would say that the development talk set our future perspective more evident and we all learned what we need to do to make it work more efficiently. ”
“There were a lot of questions and work around conducting the conversations, but I am going to share the way I organized it myself. Maybe our experience inspires someone else in their team to do something similar, and then this whole post can prove to be helpful.
I compiled the conversations for quite some time. I read all sorts of sources, thought about our team from different angles and interacted with people who are already efficient in their teams, whose organization I dare to follow. I’m not going to point out the usual what-are-your-strengths-questions here. But let me explain a little bit about the structure of our conversations. At the beginning of the conversation, everyone had to pitch to Parkngo (not me!). I gave them the freedom in this regard to see what they would come up with first. The topics that come to the mind first are usually the most important and relevant ones to that person. After that came questions where I could be more specific and bring them out of their comfort zone. I consciously didn’t give them these questions in advance, because I also wanted to see the way by which they came up with their answers, not just the pearls shaped and rehearsed at home. It is important to understand how people come to an answer and what motivations influence them. By the end of the conversation, everyone had to come up with a surprise. The surprise could be any new idea, proposal or anything else they could think of. It was basically a test of creativity and being on the same wavelength.
Here are some of the questions that I used during the conversations:
What makes you special? What is something in you that no one else has?
Why are you irreplaceable and critical to Parkngo’s development?
What are your core values or principles at work?
Three core values that you would like our team to have?
What prevents you from doing things and finalizing them?
What do you definitely not want me to have you doing?
What kind of a team member are you?
Evaluate the contribution of other teammates (as well as yourself) in terms of teamwork in a 10-point system. Give reasons as to why did you give these evaluations!
Why don’t you give yourself a 10? What are you missing from achieving this?
What is your vision of Parkngo?
What should Parkngo do to be successful and to reach that vision?
How much responsibility are you willing to take?
How can I help you achieve your goals?
Others have answered the questions, but what about Markus?
“As already mentioned by the feedback from others, the conversations were a very good idea. To make things equal, I answered all of the questions in front of the whole team at the meeting. And then the surprise. I never ask others to do things that I can’t do myself. So now let me tell you a little bit, what was the surprise I had for my team.
One of the things I understood was that the skills of our team reach the glass ceiling pretty fast. We want to make an app, but we can’t do it ourselves. Sometimes it seems that we cannot even imagine and think about it correctly.
In an IT class, I stared dreamily out of the window and noticed that a car drove to the front of the school. I thought: “I wonder what kind of car it is and how much does such a toy cost?”. Since I don’t know much about cars myself, I turned around on the chair and asked my classmate Robert what kind of machine it is. He admitted that he did not know much about the car world either. He didn’t even know what the brand of that car was. I went back to my excel file and forgot about the topic as fast as it came to my mind. After some time, Robert tapped on my shoulder and in addition to saying the car model, read out all of the other possible and impossible data about that car. I don’t even remember anymore what car it was. The only thought in my head was “this guy I want in our team!”.
This was not my first contact with Robert. He had helped us with some technical issues before. Someone asked him at the beginning of a lecture how we could embed Google Maps into our app. By the end of the class, we had it. Sick! I called this genius on the phone and we talked about my idea. He was ready to join our team. He thought he could prepare a prototype for us to go to investors with and also he could create a landing page. Epic! I popped the champagne in my head and couldn’t wait to surprise my teammates with the idea! ”
Fasten your seat belts, because this is where the racing starts. Markus is ready to lower the exam handbrake and hit his gas pedal to the metal. But who is Robert? How will the team move on and where will this ride take us anyway? The next stop is in part 8!