Creating Focused Paths for Growth

Liz Rodriguez

Senior Director of Software Engineering at TopQuadrant



We gathered a lot of feedback from our team members at different levels throughout the organization as well as varying levels of seniority. The main consensus was that everybody had questions around what their next step in the company would be. As the organization had grown, this was becoming an increasingly popular concern for our team members.

Actions taken

We decided we wanted to provide engineers with focused paths for growth. The process began by us trying to figure out how we would structure that. From there, we created three paths. The middle path which can grow into a technical lead position and from there you can decide if you want to continue on that path to become an architect. Then, there is a separate path for architects that leads all the way up to being a chief architect. The third is a manager path that leads up to a supervisor position in our current implementation, but after that will go up to a VP role. The career track framework is broken up into Technical skill, Impact, Leadership and communication, Experience, and Strategy sections so we cleverly refer it as the TILES framework. Alongside that, we established a strategy document that people can use when they think they are ready for the next step in their career path. They can document, for a year, how they are meeting their goals that have been set forth and can be recommended for promotion the following year. Finally, in addition to the TILES framework, we added an engineering health framework which we use to measure the health of our organization at the organizational, team, and individual level.

Lessons learned

  • We now have a way to talk to people about their career and likewise, they have a way to approach us about where they want to be.
  • Having strategy documents gives people ownership of their own career path which is a very powerful thing.
  • Together, the tiles and engineering health frameworks bring us a powerful view into whether someone is ready for a particular role.
  • Before our current implementation of these focused growth paths, we discovered that the first level for technical leads would be a manager and many people were scared to cross over straight to a manager role. To create a softer transition we added an additional step as a supervisor position which made people feel a lot more comfortable taking on this job.
  • The first implementation of the career ladder was meant for the tech leads to have people reporting to them as an additional HR duty. This, unfortunately, did not go over well. Many people were very unhappy and wanted to stay more technical and we have since scaled back to do so. Also with the addition of the supervisor role and its own HR duties, we have been able to separate that position with tech leads strictly on the tech side while supervisors can provide both tech and HR support.

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Liz Rodriguez

Senior Director of Software Engineering at TopQuadrant

Career GrowthCareer ProgressionCareer LadderSkill DevelopmentLeadership RolesEngineering ManagerVP of EngineeringCTOFeedback & ReviewsRoles & Titles

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