When it comes to growth frameworks, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. My “why” for building these frameworks always came from the need to create a clear career development structure for folks on my teams, and equity within the organization. Read below for an exclusive offer from Pando for TroopHR members.
Strong career frameworks, when done correctly, can have a major impact on the employees and organizations that leverage them. But building these frameworks is similar to building a house—the structure needs to be strong to achieve the desired result.
My “why” for building these frameworks always came from the want and need to create a clear career development structure for folks on my teams. Looking at it more broadly, these rubrics play a crucial role in creating equity within an organization—they ensure that people are evaluated and developed within a clear, fair, and structured system.
When it comes to growth frameworks, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of them. Let’s take a look at what makes a great career framework and to look out for or avoid.
A strong career rubric starts with levels. These define the seniority and expectations of a role. It’s important for the leveling framework to be consistent across the organization. This ensures that the scope of each role and the impact required for each role at a certain level is consistent. Even if the roles aren’t open, maintaining that calibration is essential as employees are hired and as they grow within the company.
A leveling tactic we support at Pando is having progression steps built into the leveling structure. With this, each level isn’t necessarily tied to a title change. This helps to de-emphasize titles and orient employees around level progression—so the focus is on upleveling their skills rather than chasing a title. This structure also helps organizations understand the differences between levels and prevents them from unnecessarily hiring by title.
You want to make sure there are enough steps in your leveling structure for all employees to move up. And it’s crucial to create parallel paths between ICs and managers to ensure equitable opportunity for both tracks.
The next piece of the framework is competencies. These are the behaviors, attributes, skills, and knowledge required to successfully perform a particular role. Competencies can be structured in many different ways—you can include company values, domain-specific skills, etc. I recommend having a consistent definition for each competency across all rubrics within the organization. Then, within each level, there’s a progression in what that competency looks like. This creates equity and alignment in how people are measured against competencies and clear progression within each level.
With competencies, it’s important to balance the result that’s expected of employees and the way someone gets those results. This way, there’s alignment with not just what people do but how they do it including behaviors and example tasks or projects folks could work on.
The intersection of competencies and levels plays a significant role in career rubrics—it’s also where many rubrics often fall short. Competencies need to progress with levels. There needs to be a distinction between what a competency looks like from one level to the next; otherwise, it’s not actionable for employees. Plus, without these distinctions, it’s difficult for managers to make objective decisions about how to evaluate someone.
Once the basics of career frameworks are set, there are some nice-to-haves that can make them even stronger. I recommend adding a handful of competencies that are consistent across all teams. These can help employees stay aligned on specific company values. This also helps employees and managers understand how the values listed on the company website translate into their day-to-day.
Incorporating a mix of hard and soft skills is another effective way to ensure that employees are developing holistically. Regardless of function, every job requires hard and soft skills so including them both in your rubric offers further support for employee progression.
Having seen a countless array of rubrics, there are a few common areas where companies trip up. These are the big ones we see most:
Rubrics require intentional design. I see the impact they make on my team and our customers at Pando everyday. If you’re interested to learn more about how to build your organization’s career frameworks or make them equitable, actionable, measurable we can help. Learn more here.
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