How to Develop a Formalized Career Path For Your Employees

Ashutosh Gupta

Director of Engineering and Head of Quality at SchoolMint



Initially, when there were slightly more than ten people in the engineering organization we did well without having a formal career path. We were focused on building things and would hire engineers and senior engineers who will eventually be promoted to senior engineers, leads or principles after a few years. As we grew to 45 people it became evident that we had to formalize our career path. Also, a formalized career path would help us attract talent and acknowledge personal preferences within the company - some people were keen to go further into technical fields while others aspired to go into management.

Actions taken

First off, we thoroughly discussed what we wanted from our employees and what we wanted from different roles. However, we never had proper job descriptions. Our job descriptions didn't list all the expectations and more importantly, they were not laid out as clearly as they should. Therefore, we had to create better job descriptions that correlated to the career path we envisioned. A person would progress from a junior to a senior engineer and then to a lead after which s/he will be offered to go, based on his/her preferences, either into management or into more technical roles. As a result of a thought process, we have created a self-evaluation kit that stipulated what we wanted from our employees. A self-evaluation kit consisted of four parts: technical skills, soft skills, product knowledge, and process knowledge. Technical skills, needless to say, are of the utmost importance for engineers, but we also came up with three to four most important soft skills. In addition, we realized how important it is for an engineer to be familiar with a product and how product knowledge relates to other aspects of the work process. Last, but not least, engineers should be familiar with the process, be able to follow the process and/or suggest improvements to the process. As a company, we required some skills more than others and we had to ensure that promotions are aligned with the company goals. Based on evaluations, we identified areas in which we should provide additional training to our employees. We provided training in management, communication, and some technical skills. We introduced five levels for each skill ranging from a novice to an expert. We made precise descriptions for each level that people can follow through and progress level by level.

Lessons learned

  • We decided to align our employees' progression to the company goals. If a company seeks people who can take ownership, then ownership should be clearly defined and people who are more likely to take ownership should be more favorably considered for promotion. This is not easily doable as these goals have to be precisely quantified.
  • By introducing a transparent career path people became more aware of how they could improve their skills. Also, they were offered different career paths depending on their personal preferences and were able to have more control over how fast they wanted to progress.
  • The training we provided was also a great tool for both self-evaluation and objective assessment of employee's skills. Sometimes, an employee may believe to be great at something while a manager would contest that belief. However, having a tool that combines these two perspectives would be highly beneficial.

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Ashutosh Gupta

Director of Engineering and Head of Quality at SchoolMint

Leadership DevelopmentCommunicationOrganizational StrategyEngineering ManagementPerformance ReviewsFeedback TechniquesTechnical SkillsCareer ProgressionSkill DevelopmentTraining & Mentorship

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