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Steering Career Progression in the Right Direction

By lcampbell
Nov. 3, 2016

With fast growth, aggressive global expansion targets, and new projects constantly hitting the dashboard, it’s sometimes hard to take a breath and focus on your own personal career development.

Creating a career progression framework during the early days of a company is tough, and perhaps unnecessary, as it might distract a business more than benefit it. Roles and departments are constantly evolving during any business’ early days. Formalizing career paths too early could stunt organizational and employee development, having the opposite effect than intended.

As businesses mature, they tend to start hearing from the people who want to know what their future looks like at the company. Questions often posed include: Where am I going? What opportunities do I have to take on more responsibility? How will the organization accommodate me into their growth plan?

Questions such as these were a timely consideration for Appnovation, in identifying a gap that pushed the management team to prioritize internal employee growth for the new fiscal year.

In response to this feedback, the Appnovation Career Progression Portal (aka the “ACPP”) was recently launched. Several internal stakeholders were involved, and many steps taken in rolling out this company-wide initiative.

jump.pngMilestones

Establishing a Goal, Identifying Key Stakeholders, and Defining a Project Plan

The goal our team established was to create a clearly defined career progression framework. This was designed to build on Appnovation’s existing job levelling model, which consists of junior, intermediate, and senior levels. The model ultimately identifies competencies and skills required to progress to the next level.

Focus Groups

Focus groups were led by a group of British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) Human Resources Consulting students. The BCIT Consultants partnered with Appnovation Principals, to interview senior staff from QA, Front and Back End Development, Business Analysis, Design, and Project Management.

Feedback was also gathered directly from Managers and Executives, from all non-technical departments, since these teams are much smaller in size. With the purpose of defining potential career progression paths for senior team members, three questions were asked:

1) What does it mean to grow in depth in your area at Appnovation? (i.e. specialize in certain industries/master specific technologies)

2) What does it mean to grow in breadth in your area at Appnovation? (i.e. expand your skill sets in multiple technologies/industries)

3) What does people management look like in your area at Appnovation? (i.e. getting exposure to being a lead, manager, mentor, and/or trainer)

Building Framework and Content

So, what were the results?

The formation of progression tracks for senior staff to develop in one or more of the identified areas of breadth, depth, and people management. For example, a Senior Back-End Developer can grow into roles such as Solutions Architect, Technical Architect or Development Lead. Not all positions defined within the ACPP are “occupied” at present; rather, these progression tracks will populate as Appnovation scales in size, to keep up with growth rates.

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An example of the career progression path of an Appnovation Back-End Developer.

Feedback and Revisions

After feedback was received, a soft launch with select Executives and Principals/Managers was held, and revisions were made, to ensure that the model coincided with Appnovation’s strategic business plan. Appnovation’s IT team was included throughout, to ensure that our internal portal (built in Confluence) was secure, easy-to-use, and equipped with appropriate search functionalities.

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Appnovators can search the ACPP by a department or by keyword.

Linking Career Progression to Performance Management

Personal growth is employee-driven and manager-partnered; this is ingrained in Appnovation’s culture and reflected in our programs. Performance management is a continuous journey within the company. We encourage weekly one-on-ones, aka “CARE meetings” (Communicate, Acknowledge, Respond, and Engage), timely coaching conversations, and quarterly feedback meetups.

Appnovation’s Performance & Development (P&D) Journal is a medium for team members to capture achievements, career development goals, constructive feedback, training and development plans, and project-related successes. Linking the ACPP to the P&D Journal was vital for this career progression framework to be relevant and at the forefront of Appnovators’ minds when they are having career development discussions with their Managers.

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A look at our P&D journals.

What Next?

The Appnovation Career Progression Portal is a living resource which will be updated and maintained to reflect the company’s growth. The next phase will capture training and development initiatives which is a key focus for our technical teams this fiscal year. Stay tuned!

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