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Formalizing Career Conversations

Alex Kroman

EVP of Product and Engineering at LivePerson

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Problem

At New Relic, we do a biannual employee survey. Two years ago, one of the recurring themes born from those surveys was to increase the time that managers spent engaging with engineers on a plan for their career. After digging deeper, we realized that some of our managers were really good at this, while others weren't. The career coaching skill set wasn't evenly distributed across our management team.

Actions taken

Step 1: We set up a very light-weight process where we asked all individual contributors to write up a short, one-page description of what they wanted out of their 5-10 year career timeline. Once written, it was meant to be shared with their manager, discussed, and repeated yearly. Step 2: Upon realizing the differential between what engineers wanted from their career and what managers could reasonably accommodate, we created a leadership group to help fill in the missing pieces. Every quarter, our engineering leadership team reviews the career plans of engineers across all our different engineering functions. Reviewing the career plans as a leadership team allows different leaders to understand where someone is going and potentially accelerate their career by giving them stretch assignments outside of their current role.

Lessons learned

  • Try to have formal career conversations at a regular cadence (start with at least once a year) with every employee in the company. Many of our managers were already doing this, but it was even better to formalize it as a best practice and expectation. This ensured that these conversations were happening across the board which improved our survey scores the next time around.
  • Review career plans at a leadership-level to identify opportunities that might not be apparent to each individual team manager. We have found that the step of reviewing these in a cross-functional group at the leadership-level creates the visibility needed to make new career opportunities happen and to leverage the professional development aspirations of our engineers.

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Alex Kroman

EVP of Product and Engineering at LivePerson


Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesCareer GrowthCareer ProgressionIndividual Contributor RolesLeadership Roles

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