I had spent about 3 months in my new Job at JP Morgan, Singapore, as a business analyst in the clearing and settlement project management team. I was handling a critical and high-budget project spanning over 4 different locations. Pleased with my work and the team player attributes I had shown in the few months, my Executive Director called me into his cabin and offered me an additional responsibility. He said that he had started an “Offshore Test Centre (ETC)” initiative and he felt that it deed a manager and a leader to get it streamlined and functioning well.
In addition to my work as an analyst in my project, I would be given the manager position for the ETC team. Thinking that it would be a great opportunity to hone my team leadership skills, I accepted. The ETC or the Offshore Test Centre was a team of consultants from Polaris who were working for JP Morgan. The team comprised of 4 people from Iambi and 3 people from Hydrated, in India, 1 person in London, I-J and 2 people in North America. I was situated in Singapore. When, I officially took over, I was made aware of the problems immediately.
The person who was leading the team before me had little experience in the clearing and settlement technology area and was not able to provide the required level of expertise. He was let go and I was the replacement manager. The main issues I encountered were: 1 . ) It was a new team and until now there had been no one to structure it or establish any guidelines. There was no team cohesion and feeling of camaraderie within the am was absent. 2. ) The members had not received any training or formal knowledge sessions related to technology and business. . ) There was no recognition for the team as it hadn’t been able to carve a niche for itself. The technology team did their own quality testing as there was no trust and hence no dependency. 4. ) They already had a team leader at offshore who was handling the administration activities for Polaris, and he handled the leaves, appraisal and allocation for the team members. I started off by making a formal introduction via email and video conferencing to ensure that everyone in different time zones was included.
We had a good initial knowledge transfer session where I shared my knowledge in the areas of work and my vision for the team. The team members gave me an idea of the kind of work they had been doing in the past and the processes and flows and also what their goals and expectations were. During the week, I set up one-on-one meetings with every individual and spoke at length. I kept the tone informal and lowly but steadily, people opened up and spoke about the issues they encountered and offered solutions as well.
I established a weekly reporting process, where I consolidated the tasks completed by each member and sent it to the senior management. This improved the visibility of our team. I made sure, with the help of my director that the process was more streamlined and all the enhancements and change releases went through our team first for quality assurance. This not only created a healthy dependency between the technology, management and the test team, but also helped open dialogues between the teams making the collaboration stronger.
Most importantly, I set up training sessions every alternate day and made sure I received feedback and summarization on the sessions from the members. I initially did face some negative reactions to the changes from some of the team members, especially from the offshore leader. But eventually, as we made progress and the positive implications became clear, I started receiving positive feedbacks and my team claimed that it was much happier with their radioactivity.
We started catering to diverse teams and technology, and in the process I had learn the new business and technology as well for the order matching and celebration team. Best part was, that the team was now recognized among the top management as one of the efficient quality assurance team as our delivery defects were substantially reduced by over 40%. My Executive director was happy as the both technology and management team both felt that the entire system was now benefiting from this step.