How to Grow a Senior from a Junior: A Few HR Tools for Your Employees’ Progress

Hiring juniors is an easy task, middles are harder to find, and seniors are a true headache. Your company’s budget will not change anything: the more experienced a specialist is, the more specific tasks they solve. Thus, our quest for a required expert may turn into a challenge. Homegrown specialists prove to be a far better solution. The Purrweb example illustrates the process of growing a team.

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Feedback from colleagues helps us systematically cultivate our employees’ expertise. This way, juniors pump up their hard skills under the supervision of experienced professionals. At the same time, it’s a way to boost the soft skills and team interaction.

To contribute to this development, we have integrated the following HR processes: retros, 1:1 meetings, and performance reviews. They haven’t failed us for two years, though our team has grown from 40 to 190 employees over this period. According to Gallup Q12, our Engagement Index has reached 86%. This means, the employees know what is expected from them, feel that they influence the workflow, and see what to focus on.

In this article, we are going to share our unique experience and templates for performance reviews, retros, and 1:1 meetings. Use them for your team’s development or personal growth.

A few words about processes

For the first half of the year, our employee follows this scheme: retros — a 1:1 performance review. On their first day, we briefly describe the process and then, we share detailed information before every meeting.

  1. A retro — retrospective — takes place 2 months after the employee is hired. At a retro, the manager and colleagues give the newcomer their verbal feedback: what is good and what needs more effort.
  2. 1:1 is a personal meeting with an HR or a team lead that is organized after 4 working months. The team lead discusses the current tasks and the employee’s state of mind. The HR needs to find out whether the employee fits in and what they feel about their position.

A performance review is a substantial analysis conducted once in half a year. At this review, every team member gets detailed written feedback. The team lead helps make an individual plan and reconsiders the wages.

Not only HRs can organize these processes. For example, minor collectives and project teams can use retros as a great tool to collect feedback and analyze results. On the contrary, performance reviews may be irrational for teams with fewer than 10 members.

Let’s have a closer look at each tool.


A retro starts with an employee’s story about the things they enjoy, tasks they have solved, the challenges they have faced, and the skills they need to work on. We will, sure, help if a developer wants to delve into React or a UI/UX designer wishes to improve typography.

We always have the hell knows issue devoted to the situations that require comments. It can be an inconvenient workplace or some conflict — the hell knows what we can do with it but we need to comment on it.

retro example

At retros, we discuss these issues verbally

After the newcomer shares their ideas, HR invites the colleagues for discussion. They come one by ne to describe what they like and what requires improvement. After everyone else, the team lead or manager comes to help the employee decide on their individual development plan and action steps for the next four months.

The employee decides on their growth areas themselves. The answers to these questions help them:

What can be improved? How can you do this?

Action steps are the actions that boost the employee’s skills. This term may imply any kind of action: reading a book, doing a course, taking on a certain process, etc. They will have to fulfill the tasks on their own, but within Purrweb projects, so the team lead sets the relevant tasks.

As a rule, the employee decides on three action steps, but any number will do


Two months after the retro, the employee meets the team lead one-on-one to discuss the current tasks and the action steps progress. Sometimes, people switch to another project, and their development plan changes, so the old growth areas turn irrelevant. Some employees complete the steps too quickly and get bored.

Every section conducts routine 1:1 meetings by specific rules: once a week, once a fortnight, etc. They discuss the fulfilled tasks, the future plans, the employee’s worries, and the required help.

Besides, we organize regular 1:1 meetings with our HR to find out how the team is doing. Every HR supervises a certain team where they uncover the problems and analyze the team’s environment.

1:1’s with HRs and meetings with team leads are two different stories: an HR helps employees deal with the workplace and team issues, whereas a team lead helps manage the workflow tasks and their volume

Performance review

The first performance review takes place 2 months after the first 1:1 meeting and half a year after the employee starts working. This review is a thorough evaluation of the employee’s performance and progress. Performance reviews resemble retros, but they provide more substantial written feedback.

Google Forms helps collect feedback. Some time ago, we tried to automate this process with Proaction. The service sent the ready-made blocks to the employees and organized the results independently. Still, it was hard to customize this software. So, we turned to Google Forms again, as this flexible tool allows quick changes.

The HR in charge makes a monthly list of the employees who need a review. They request the contacts of the people they have interacted with. Then they create a special chat where they announce: “Hey! Join us for George’s upcoming review!” and ask to fill in a Google form. The form includes questions on George’s performance: they help find out if George meets their expectations and the company’s values.

The form can be anonymous

Offtop. Purrweb has 4 corporate values: Amiability, Team, Development, and Everyone’s Contribution. We came up with them a few years ago, and now they help us shape and support the corporate culture. We add their short descriptions to performance reviews to facilitate the evaluation of a colleague’s performance.

The performance review hero fills in a form about themselves:

Every review is an eye-to-eye meeting with the team lead. An HR’s task is to initiate the process and collect data. The team lead makes a single table with the collected feedback, makes a conclusion, and invites the employee to the meeting where they shape more substantial steps — an individual development plan (IDP).

IDP is a table where the employee and the team lead enter the growth areas and come up with the action steps to boost a skill. It’s crucial for an employee not to follow someone else’s guidelines but to independently decide on the tasks and create an action plan. In this case, the employee is more likely to meet the deadlines.

An IDP structure depends on a company’s specialization. Still, there are a few universal blocks: What do I want? How to achieve this? When must I do it?

We offer a more detailed template. It includes possible obstacles toward a goal and success indicators. This helps think through one’s development and foresee problems.

After a successful review, the team lead reconsiders the employee’s wages. In the worst case, the employee has made no progress. Thus, they will have to talk to HR. Further reviews take place once in half a year.

By the way, we use custom templates for all our HR activities: you can download them here.


The continuous growth of employees is crucial for a business. This way, they get involved in processes, become more efficient, and take on more responsibility.

It’s even better when no extra investments (or consulting services) are required. To integrate retros, 1:1s, and performance reviews in your company, you need just a few project managers or one HR — this is the key positive thing here. Now you need to add a decent corporate culture. We’ll talk about it next time.

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