Changes to the L2 Team Leader Certification

This article contains some history about the creation of the TLTP. To get information about the TLTP process, check this article..

Written by Dustin de Leeuw
Level 3, Netherlands

Written by Dustin de Leeuw
Level 3, Netherlands

In this article, we look at the history of the Team Lead Certification, some improvements that have been made, some challenges we face, and a solution to those challenges. In short: the TLC is dead, long live the TLTP!

When the TLC was first created in April 2016, it was announced explicitly as Grand Prix Day 2 Team Lead Certification, and had two very clear goals: give advanced Level 2 judges something to work towards to and then grant them the opportunity to work in a new, advanced role, enjoying the challenges and growth this provides. As a very beneficial side effect, this means that new Level 3 judges will have had more opportunities to practice leading a team at a Grand Prix before they do so at Day 1, making the transition smoother and the experience for a lot of judges involved more pleasant.

Of course the TLC experienced some growing pains, and some adjustments, improvements and changes were made in 2017. We ran a survey amongst all judges holding the TLC at the start of 2018, and I can summarise the results quite easily: they liked the challenge, they liked the process (mostly), the documentation felt clear and fair. But there was one thing that almost every judge complained about: they never got the opportunity to use their TLC. They applied for a D2TL position for every GP they attended, and hardly ever got selected. Let’s delve into this problem a bit more, as it seems to be the core of what we need to address for the near future.

Opportunities to Lead a Day 2 Team after obtaining the TLC
A Level 2 judge has not been tested on the Level 3 Qualities yet, and hence has fewer authorizations than Level 3 judges. Specifically, as Level 2 judges have not proven mastery of Penalty and Policy Philosophy yet, they can’t approve back-ups and Hidden Card Errors, not even when they have the TLC and are leading a Day 2 team. This, obviously, is frustrating for all parties involved. In the past, at some GPs, any Team Lead could authorise a back-up or HCE, but it has now been decided by the GPHJ group that this is no longer an option.

This implies that we still need a fair amount of Level 3 judges on Day 2 of a GP, and the GPHJ group voiced their explicit wishes that some of the teams must be led by a Level 3 judge. Since the change to a 6-2 cut for Day 2, Day 2 has become smaller and so has the number of judge teams needed, with nowadays commonly only 4 teams. With 1 or 2 judges testing for the TLC, this leaves a very low number of slots available for judges with the TLC to Team Lead, typically in the range of 0 to 2 slots per GP. With 74 TLC judges and approximately 50 GPs per year, it becomes quite obvious why these judges hardly ever get to use their certification after obtaining it.

Judges who now test for Level 3, still don’t have much more experience in leading a team than they used to several years ago, and the experience they get is quite a limited one: while they may lead a team, they still need to go to Level 3 judges for back-ups and HCEs, limiting the value of the experience they get. We also don’t see that the TLC helped judges to prepare for and pass their Level 3 panels.

To summarise: we have a beautiful, fair, and clean process that I’m quite proud of. However, the result of that process is a certification that doesn’t do what it was intended to do. Specifically, we want judges with the TLC to Lead a Team on Day 2 of a Grand Prix, and we can’t make that happen as it is now. And with that, we can only reach a single conclusion: after two years of trying, it’s time to terminate the TLC.

In Conclusion
Our team has spent a lot of time discussing and explaining it, refining it, updating it, making it better, polishing it… but up until when we conducted the big 2018 TLC survey, I had never realised how disheartening the current reality was for judges who put so much effort into obtaining the TLC. So, thank you all for speaking out, and making me aware of the biggest issue we all were blind to up until then.

I believe that being honest, with ourselves and with eachother, is extremely important. I want to express the hope that the TLTP will better suit the needs of the Judge Program and of its awesome judges. Please let me know how we’re doing!

Thanks to all the people who shared their feedback and ideas with me. Thanks to the Program Coordinators, who supported and approved my crazy ideas. And thank you to all the members of the TLC Project (who will receive a free upgrade to the new TLTP Project!) for going through these documents over and over again: