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5 Stages of Career Planning for a Tech Team

The story was originally published on Vectorly’s blog.

If you’re wondering how to write a career progression plan and what are the stages of career progression planning, this article will help you find the answers. This is the second part of the big topic on software engineer career progression, in which you’ll find:

After reading the article, an engineering manager or a tech lead will be able to create a career progression framework that meets the goals of their company, as well as build a high-performing team and retain top engineers.

Previously, we told about what is a software engineer career progression framework and why do companies need to implement an engineer career ladder for their company.

Career progression definition

Software engineer career progression is a systematized career growth roadmap, which inсludes skills, achievements, expectations and vision of a career future. To simplify, the career ladder charts individual career progress.

There are different types of career progression framework examples, depending on the size of a company and its goals.

Using a career ladder template, a manager can easily create their own career progression framework. However, if he or she wants to motivate top engineers, retain the best talent, and develop engineers professionally, it’s not enough to just build a good career progression framework and implement it.

5 stages of career progression planning

A good manager should make career progression planning a continuous process. And that’s why:

  • First of all, a manager should regularly hold reviews to check how the skills of a team meet the requirements of their current grades (and desired levels) and monitor the progress of their professional development.

  • Secondly, the career progression framework should be updated at least once a year, so the requirements and skills included in it are relevant to the market.

Vectorly has come up with a 5-stage career progression planning process. This cycle also includes a meetings schedule, with an agenda and a must-have toolkit.

Here are five stages of career planning:

  1. Build a career progression framework
  2. Check progress & make adjustments to PDP
  3. Make decisions on level raise
  4. Check progress & make adjustments to PDP
  5. Update the career progression framework

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Now, let’s dive into details and get the agenda and the tools for each of the stages mentioned above.

#1. Build a career progression framework

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At this stage, a manager creates a career ladder and implements it in the company. This is probably the most time-consuming and difficult stage of the career planning process. Yet Vectorly has prepared a Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build a Software Engineer Career Progression Framework, which will help you to create your own career ladder framework, using templates and customizing them to the needs of your company.

As a result of this stage, teammates will get a clear understanding of their career path and what skills they should develop, in order to get a grade raise.

In short, at this stage, a manager needs to:

  • Create a list of skills
  • Set grades
  • Map skills to grades
  • Hold 1-on-1 meetings to build a PDP plan

Toolkit:

For more detailed info, check out our Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build a Software Engineer Career Progression Framework.

#2. Check progress & make adjustments to PDP

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After the career progression framework has been implemented and a PDP plan has been built, a repeated skill review needs to be held, in order to check the progress of an employee on developing the focus skills from a professional development plan. Also, during this 1-on-1 meeting, a manager should make updates to the current PDP.

So, at this stage, a manager needs to:

  • Hold a review to assess the current level of skills
  • Make adjustments to PDP

Toolkit:

This meeting should be held regularly, as you can see in the picture - Q1 and Q4.

#3. Make decisions on level raise

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Six months after building a career progression framework, it’s time to make decisions on grade raises. A manager should hold a review, in order to see how well employees have succeeded in developing the required skills for their desired position. On the basis of this review analysis, the manager and HR will make decisions about who will get promoted and get a pay raise.

By doing this, the decisions are transparent to all the parties involved - engineers, team leads, and HR.

To sum up, at this stage, a manager needs to:

  • Hold a review to assess the current level of skills
  • Hold 1:1 to discuss level and pay raise

Toolkit:

Decisions on grade raise should be made regularly - twice a year (Q1 and Q3 on the picture).

#4. Check progress & make adjustments to PDP

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This stage repeats #2, as this is the time when a manager checks how the current PDP is being implemented by an employee and makes necessary changes to it.

A manager needs to:

  • Hold a review to assess the current level of skills
  • Make adjustments to PDP

Toolkit:

This meeting should be held regularly, as you can see in the picture - Q1 and Q4.

#5. Update the career progression framework

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After a career ladder has been built and successfully implemented into the work of a company, a manager’s goal is to make adjustments to the framework. Skill matrices and career paths of engineers should be updated once a year, in order to make sure that the team’s professional development goals are relevant to the current business goals and meet the requirements of the industry.

So once a year, a manager needs to:

  • Update the list of skills
  • Update grades
  • Map the updated skills to grades
  • Hold 1:1s on professional development & discuss level raises

Toolkit:

To sum up, the key factor of successful career planning is regularity. The process of implementation of the engineer career progression framework contains a set of regular meetings, which are:

Once a year: create/update a career progression framework
Once every six months: make decisions on pay and grade raise, and create new PDP
Once every three months: hold a review to assess the skills and make adjustments to the current PDP

This 5-stage career planning cycle will help to make the professional development of every member of a tech team systematic, provide engineers with career development opportunities within the company, as well as make decisions on promotions and pay raise transparent to all parties involved.

Still have questions on how to create a career progression and organize career planning for your team? Don’t worry - Vectorly expert will help you to figure it out on a free 25-min call.

The story was originally published on Vectorly’s blog.

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