Creating a Full-Bodied Manager Career Trajectory

Nicolas De Nayer

CTO at Click & Boat



As we grew to a large number of employees, we needed to set up the management aspect of the company. It became evident that we needed to make it clear within the company that engineers have two different career paths to choose from.

Actions taken

We clearly stated that the two career paths for engineers were either the route of a software engineer or that of an engineering manager. I then made a clear, small presentation for everyone to understand the concept of the different levels and tracks for both roles. After that, we created a simple spreadsheet with more in-depth information detailing the different tracks. We made this public, including the names of each of the people within those roles across the varying levels. Every line of the spreadsheet has the output of effort from each of the developers. The last thing we did to incorporate this on a larger, more involved scale was to have a kind of ceremony every six months for leveling up. To develop from one level to the next, we do a big interview with all the engineering managers where they have to read the spreadsheet information and then share their findings during quarterly reviews.

Lessons learned

  • It is important to make the separate career paths clear early on because of the leverage it allows for each one.
  • The point at the beginning was really about people being interested in the trajectory. It was clear that sometimes they struggled to understand why certain people were managers. Just having a spreadsheet to try to demonstrate that reasoning was not enough. We had to really make sure that it became part of their DNA so to speak. By using the key points under each level for quarterly reviews, it has become easier for each manger to start the quarter. First by identifying the current level of their engineers and then giving them a concrete checklist of the necessary skills to level up. We decided to make this part of their to-do list for the quarter. Thanks to that, people have become more connected to the spreadsheet. This element, combined with a congratulatory level up ceremony is a good way to bring the developer closer to the spreadsheet again.
  • I had originally hired tech leads to take on the manager role, but it was not exactly what we needed due to those people not being able to do their best technical work in this role. A tech lead really needs a manager themselves and people will often not be accepting of them as a manager because they expect them to do the heavy tech work.

Be notified about next articles from Nicolas De Nayer

Nicolas De Nayer

CTO at Click & Boat

Engineering ManagementCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor RolesStaff EngineerPrincipal EngineerTech LeadLeadership RolesEngineering ManagerRoles & Titles

Connect and Learn with the Best Eng Leaders

We will send you a weekly newsletter with new mentors, circles, peer groups, content, webinars,bounties and free events.


HomeCircles1-on-1 MentorshipBounties

© 2024 Plato. All rights reserved

LoginSign up