The Level 2 Team Leader Certification

What is the Team Leader Certification?

A judge with this certification has proven competency managing teams of judges in Competitive and Professional events. Judges with this certification may be chosen to lead teams on Day 2 of a Grand Prix and it is recommended that Level 3 candidates lead a team more than once before they test. Due to the larger scale and increased difficulty of a Grand Prix Day 1, Team Leading on Day 1 of a Grand Prix is still reserved only for Level 3 judges.

In order to acquire this certification, the candidate must prove his or her ability to successfully lead a team in a Competitive or Professional event. While accomplishing the tasks assigned to the team is necessary to be a good Team Leader, this alone is not sufficient to obtain the Team Leader Certification. A successful Team Leader performs the role of middle-management; this means that he or she has to be coordinating, communicating and cooperating with people lower in the chain of command (the team members), people at parallel places in the chain (other Team Leaders) and people higher up in the chain (Head Judges and Appeals Judges). A successful Team Leader turns a group of people into a real team that efficiently and smoothly works together. The Team Leader makes sure that the team members enjoy their assignments and provides them with constructive feedback throughout the day. These criteria will be evaluated by a Head Judge or Appeals Judge of the Grand Prix and the Shadow Level 3 in the candidate’s team.

Obtaining the Team Leader Certification is an essential part of the Level 3 checklist, but for this purpose may be replaced by the former Team Leader Check that was given out until the introduction of the NNWO in 2016. The Team Leader Certification (TLC) is designed for experienced Level 2 judges, and it is encouraged that most Team Leaders on Day 2 of a Grand Prix are Level 2 judges. Even when a Level 2 judge has the TLC, it is still recommended for a Level 3 judge to be in the team, although this is not a strict requirement. Since this certification is designed for Level 2 judges, if a judge is promoted to Level 3, the certification no longer applies, as all Level 3 judges are expected to be qualified to lead a team.

Pre-test Requirements

In order to apply to be evaluated for the Team Leader Certification the candidate must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Must be a Level 2 judge, in good standing, for at least 6 months.
  • Must have scored at least 80% on an Advanced Rules and Policy Test in the last 6 months. Currently the Level 3 Preliminary Exam is used for this purpose.
  • Must have already been on each of the following teams at least once: Paper/Pairings/Slips, Stage/EOR, Deck Checks/Deck Lists (any event with a dedicated team of 3 or more members is valid, but Grand Prix experience is recommended).
  • Must have acted as Head Judge or Team Leader for at least 3 Competitive REL events, managing at least 2 other certified judges.
  • Must have acted as Head Judge for at least 10 other events (any REL).
  • Must demonstrate communication skills sufficient to act as a Team Leader at large, international events, such as Grand Prix.
  • Must understand English well enough to be up-to-date on official documents.

A Level 3 judge must verify the above requirements with the candidate and contact the Head Judge of the event to recommend that the candidate is tested at that event. This recommendation has no specific template, nor should it be lengthy. It just needs to state that the requirements above have been fulfilled, and that the recommending Level 3 believes the candidate is ready to lead a team. This is not a trivial waiver, leading a team is a serious commitment, and that responsibility should only be given to those ready for the task.

If the candidate has failed to obtain the TLC at a previous event and tests again, the Evaluating Burgundy is encouraged to read the review written for the previous test. The candidate must share the review on JudgeApps with the Head Judge of the Grand Prix, and may choose to share the review with the Shadow Level 3 Judge. No further explanation or action is required from the candidate, but the candidate may explain in advance how he or she improved on the Deficient or Underdeveloped areas.

Process

The evaluation of the candidate will be performed by both:

An Evaluating Burgundy Judge: Can be any judge from the Grand Prix Head Judge group wearing burgundy on the day 2 of a Grand Prix; the current list of those judges can be found on JudgeApps. Each Burgundy Judge can only evaluate 1 candidate at a time as full dedication is expected for this process. In an event with multiple Head Judges, each of them can evaluate a different candidate. Each candidate must be assigned to a specific Burgundy Judge before the start of the day.

A Shadow Level 3 Judge: Any Level 3 judge can perform this role. This Level 3 judge must be on the team the candidate is leading. The Shadow Level 3 Judge is not expected to mentor the candidate during the evaluation, but is encouraged to provide feedback and mentoring afterwards. He or she should not take over leading the team, nor should he or she show too much initiative, steer the team’s actions or give too much unsolicited feedback during the day, as to give the TLC candidate a chance to show leadership and vision on his or her own merits. The Shadow Level 3 Judge should not set up any specific situations, but is encouraged to involve the candidate in challenging or unusual situations that happen to occur during the event. However, he or she is encouraged to be candid and honest with the candidate if he or she asks for feedback during the process. The Shadow Level 3 Judge must intervene and take the necessary actions to prevent serious damage to the tournament; if this happens, it probably means the candidate has failed the test. For example, if the Team Leader’s plan would result in pairings being posted sub-optimally, the Shadow Level 3 Judge should let this happen and observe how the Team Leader adjusts. If the Team Leader’s plan would result in no one being assigned to post pairings while the team is on break, the Shadow Level 3 Judge should intervene.

Having an experienced judge on a team who is not behaving as such may feel artificial and disadvantageous, but this is unavoidable in a real-life testing situation. This setup is intended to be beneficial for the candidate, and the candidate is encouraged to contact the Shadow Level 3 Judge in advance, and preferably have a face-to-face meeting on Saturday of the Grand Prix. It may help to regard the Shadow Level 3 Judge as an inexperienced, passive Level 2, who will not hinder the team but won’t actively contribute either, unless asked to by the candidate.

The team led by the candidate must have a specific task the candidate has to manage properly and it should be visible by the Head Judge. Paper, End of Round and Stage are recommended teams. Deck Checks is not recommended due to the low interaction with the Head Judge. “Float” teams such as Floor and Features are not recommended because they don’t have sufficient specific tasks. Logistics is not recommended due to its complexity in Limited Events and its lack of tasks in Constructed. The Head Judge is the ultimate authority to determine which team is valid.

At the end of the Swiss portion of the event, the Shadow Level 3 Judge must fill in the appropriate section of The Team Leader Certification feedback form and then the Evaluating Burgundy Judge fills in the other section. A ready to print version of this document is also available online.

Using this form as a guide, the Evaluating Burgundy Judge has to decide if the candidate receives the Team Leader Certification. The Evaluating Burgundy Judge is encouraged to seek advice and additional information as needed.

The Evaluating Burgundy Judge must provide feedback to the candidate regardless of whether he or she obtains the certification. The Shadow Level 3 Judge is encouraged to join the feedback debriefing.

The contents of the Feedback Form should be uploaded in a special TLC review on JudgeApps; if the candidate passes the test, the Evaluating Burgundy Judge grants the TLC to the candidate.

Expiration of the Certification

Once a judge has demonstrated the skills to lead a team efficiently, practice will ensure that the skills remain fresh. As long as the judge does one of the following each year after gaining the Team Leader Certification, that certification will remain valid:

  • Lead a team with 2 or more other judges at a Competitive REL Event or
  • Head Judge a Competitive REL Event with 2 or more other judges

Every January, starting in 2018, judges with the Team Leader Certification will complete a form indicating the event matching the above criteria that they judged and the certification will be automatically renewed.

Evaluation

The Evaluating Burgundy Judge is the ultimate authority to evaluate each quality, and he or she is the ultimate authority to decide whether the TLC is granted. The following lines are intended to provide guidance and consistency on the evaluation, but reality is much wider than anything this guide can contain and a certain amount of subjectivity can’t be avoided. A candidate is expected to perform at least adequately in all of the following qualities to pass the Team Leader Certification Test. If the candidate has a score of underdeveloped in up to two out of all mentioned skills (as evaluated by the Evaluating Burgundy and/or the Shadow Level 3), he or she may still pass if compensated by at least 2 scores of very good or exceptional. A candidate deficient at any of the skills has failed the Team Leader Certification Test, as has a candidate who scored underdeveloped at either Task Preparation or Success with the Team Tasks.

Each skill is rated on a 5-point scale:

Deficient: The candidate is completely lacking in understanding and execution of the evaluated area. The candidate did, or potentially could, damage the event.

Underdeveloped: The candidate is lacking, but not to the point of causing damage to the event. The candidate is below the expected threshold for a starting Team Leader.

Adequate: The candidate completes the tasks successfully, but with room for improvement. This is the lowest passing score.

Very Good: The candidate performs at the level of a starting Team Leader by showing control and understanding of the skill. The candidate can be trusted to lead without supervision.

Exceptional: The candidate surpasses the expectations and performs at the level of an experienced Team Leader. The candidate innovates and is an example for even experienced Team Leaders.

When the candidate shows different levels of performance for a given skill throughout the day, the evaluators are encouraged to use their discretion. A minor failure does not mean the candidate has failed if the overall level was adequate or very good, a single small improvement does not make one’s achievements exceptional. When in doubt, this usually is a sign of some underdeveloped elements and this should be reflected in the evaluation.

Task preparation

The ability to anticipate and prepare the required elements of the team’s task. This includes, but is not limited to: pairing board location, asking the necessary information from the Head Judge, Tournament Organizer, coverage, etc. informing the judges of any procedure the team is responsible for, etc. A good Team Leader has prepared a plan and is flexible enough to deal with unexpected challenges.

Note: when sending an email to the Evaluating Burgundy Judge or the Shadow Level 3 Judge, the candidate should always cc the other person as well so both evaluators are aware of all communication that happened. The Head Judge of the GP should send an email to the candidate and the Shadow Level 3 Judge prior to the event to ensure they have each other’s contact information. If the Head Judge already knows who will be the Evaluating Burgundy Judge, he or she is encouraged to share that information. Emails sent to the Head Judge are assumed to be forwarded to and read by the Evaluating Burgundy Judge if this is not the Head Judge.

Deficient: The candidate starts working the event without prior preparation of the tasks and needs directions to get started, has no grasp of what the tasks encompass, ignores or forgets significant aspects of the assigned tasks.

Underdeveloped: The candidate fails to share his or her plans prior to the event, or the candidate’s plans are unrealistic or too vague and need serious adaptations during the day, or the candidate fails to execute the plans he or she prepared.

Adequate: The candidate prepares a plan, shares this with the HJ or Shadow Level 3 Judge before the day of the test, and executes the plan properly.

Very Good: The candidate prepares a plan, shares this with the HJ or Shadow Level 3 Judge before the day of the test, and executes the plan properly. During the day, the candidate is flexible enough to adjust the plan as needed, because of unforeseen events or options for improvement that become apparent. The candidate is able to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the plan and the execution thereof.

Exceptional: The candidate performs as is expected of an experienced Day 2 Team Leader, incorporating plans for multiple possible scenarios, contributing to the success of other teams.

Success with the team task

Success with team task is the ability to successfully manage the tasks assigned to the team and the ability to adjust to unexpected events during the day. Some tasks may be quantified, such as all result slips being on the tables before the round clock hits 40 minutes; others may be more qualitative, such as finding good spots for pairing boards.

Deficient: The Shadow Level 3 Judge needs to intervene to prevent serious damage to the tournament.

Underdeveloped: The candidate’s team performs their tasks poorly, or misses some important steps on the team’s task.

Adequate: The candidate’s team performs their tasks in an acceptable way, with only a few minor errors.

Very Good: The candidate performs the team task in a way that the Evaluating Burgundy Judge will trust the candidate (without any more training or experience) to lead a team without supervision.

Exceptional: The candidate performs the team task as is expected of an experienced Day 2 Team Leader, and inspires others to use his or her methods in the future.

Delegation

The ability to delegate parts of assignments to appropriate team members, entrusting them with power to make decisions, while staying in control and checking how the team members are performing.

Deficient: The candidate leaves the team unattended to do a task that could have been delegated to other team members, or assigns a task to someone unable to complete it.

Underdeveloped: The candidate exhausts him or herself by doing a lot of minor things that could have been delegated to any of the team members, the candidate delegates a task but gives insufficient instructions, or the candidate doesn’t monitor how the delegated tasks are being executed.

Adequate: The candidate delegates some tasks but micromanages or doesn’t notice that some elements are being performed suboptimally.

Very Good: The candidate strikes the right balance of instructing, delegating, and monitoring his or her team members, leading to constructive cooperation and a sense of fulfillment for the team members, while the tournament integrity is maintained.

Exceptional: The candidate strikes a perfect balance of instructing, delegating, and monitoring his or her team members, leading to constructive cooperation and a sense of fulfillment for the team members, while the tournament integrity and efficiency are maintained.

Event overview and feedback

The ability to see the global picture of the event, detect deficiencies and suggest improvements. A good Team Leader sees more than just his or her own team, he or she sees how the other teams and judges are doing and where they may need help or advice.

Deficient: The candidate provides incorrect feedback about the tournament to the Head Judge or other team leaders.

Underdeveloped: The candidate provides no relevant feedback about the tournament to the Head Judge.

Adequate: The candidate informs the Head Judge about the status of his or her assignments, for example, when all result slips have been distributed or how many deck checks already have been performed, and is able to reflect on how good this performance is given the specific circumstances of this event.

Very Good: The candidate informs the Head Judge about the current status of his or her assignments, the prospects for future rounds, and brings up some useful information or accurate event observation, even if, for whatever reasons, the candidate’s suggestion can’t be implemented.

Exceptional: The candidate offers actual improvements for the tournament that can be directly and practically implemented, for example, relocating pairing boards or adjusting how players find their way to the feature match area when the event hall changes.

Team Building

The ability to turn a group of people into a team where people enjoy working together, judges help each other, and all members feel safe and welcome. The Team Leader is available and approachable for the team members and enables interaction between the team members.

Deficient: The candidate focusses exclusively on the team tasks without caring about the team’s well being, or hardly speaks to his or her team during the day.

Underdeveloped: The candidate’s social interaction consists mostly of very basic and standard interactions such as “introduce yourselves”, or starts up a team building activity but then lets it slip completely.

Adequate: The candidate enables the team members to interact with each other. The team members enjoy the day, focusing on the positive aspects of what happened and the candidate is able to cope with minor issues.

Very Good: The candidate made the judges on his or her team feel engaged and involved. The judges enjoyed spending their time together and had feedback for each other. The team members enjoyed the day and felt they contributed to the event’s success

Exceptional: The candidate is a positive influence on the members of his or her team, as well as on other judges around them. The team members worked together with joy, everyone in the team learned something during the day, and all issues (if any) were addressed swiftly and properly.

Mentoring

The Team Leader spends time with the team members observing and discussing, providing feedback to both new and experienced judges. He or she is able to deliver feedback in a positive, appropriate and constructive way, verbally throughout and at the end of the day, as well as in written form after the event. Please note that the candidate is not expected to mentor or provide feedback to the Shadow Level 3 Judge.

Deficient: The candidate hardly even speaks to his or her team during the day and has no meaningful observations for the majority of the team members.

Underdeveloped: The candidate is only able to provide some very basic and generic advice to his or her team members.

Adequate: The candidate is able to provide some specific feedback to at least 1 team member and is able to support the feedback with a specific example. If there are obvious areas for improvement for a judge, the candidate is able to point them out and give constructive advice to that judge.

Very Good: The candidate is able to provide meaningful feedback to multiple team members and is able to support the feedback with specific examples, this happens both during the day and at the end of the day. The candidate will write a review for at least 1 team member.

Exceptional: Everyone on the team learned something during the day, and/or all members received useful feedback from the candidate. This led to a visible improvement over the course of the day and resulted in at least 1 impactful review.

Communication

The ability and willingness to efficiently ask for the information needed from the right person, and to deliver information to the right person. The ability to clearly suggest, describe and motivate actions, and to listen to the suggestions brought up by others. This communication needs to happen both within the team (as evaluated by the Shadow Level 3 Judge) and between teams (as evaluated by the Evaluating Burgundy Judge), as well as with the Head Judge directly.

Deficient: The candidate fails to provide essential information to the Head Judge or to his or her team, generally limits the communication to direct instructions without any explanations, or ignores requests or suggestions provided without any explanation.

Underdeveloped: The candidate gives unclear or insufficient information to his or her team, fails to communicate frequently with the Head Judge, is hardly available for the team members, or acts on his or her own in a situation that should have required the Head Judge’s intervention.

Adequate: The candidate informs the Head Judge frequently about the status of his or her assigned tasks, about how the team as a whole is doing, and what the needs and feedback of the team are. The candidate provides the team members with information from the Head Judge about how the event is flowing, about changes in plans and about changes to their routine, such as breaks or the plan to post standings.

Very Good: The candidate is able to pass and receive all necessary information to and from team members, colleagues (Team Leaders) and the Head Judge in an efficient and pleasant way.

Exceptional: The candidate provides information unprompted and enables communication between other parties.