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Supporting Your Employees In Their Career Transition

Career Path

13 August, 2020

Philip Camilleri
Philip Camilleri

Cofounder and CTO at Founderslist

Philip Camilleri, Co-Founder and former CTO at SmartAsset, and now CEO at Founderslist, shares how he supported one of his employees during her transition from a QA engineer to a developer.

Problem

We had a QA engineer who was great at her job and had been in that role for more than two years but was very keen to transition to development. For us, as a company, the challenge was how to enable and manage her transition from QA to development.

Actions taken

At the company level, we had a policy that encouraged people to try and learn different things. The only problem was that we were constrained by limited resources and people changing departments were adding to our costs.

Our employees could express their career aspirations either by talking to HR or through their regular one-on-ones. In this particular case, our QA engineer brought up how much she would like to try something new during a one-on-one with her manager. After discussing her career goals and learning more about her aspirations and how much time she could allocate to that, we had to assess our capabilities and set reasonable objectives. Most importantly, we had to gauge from a feasibility perspective how her transition would affect the QA team and did we have enough redundancy there as well as if there was any need on the development team for a junior person. In addition, we had to assess the resources needed to support her transition and training.

As a result, we came up with two concrete plans -- a plan to hire a person on the QA team to replace her and a timeline that would guide her transition to a new team. The second timeline included assigning a person on the development team who could work with her as well as her skills acquisition plan that we could support through our education subsidy plan.

We estimated that it would take us six months to hire and train someone to replace her at the QA team and during that time she should be taking her training courses outside the company, working on some smaller projects with the development team and be supervised by a person assigned to her who would eventually decide if her contribution would be relevant to the team. We set precise milestones for all of those actions and once they were completed we could set the final date for her transition.

Lessons learned

  • It took longer than I expected and it was far more taxing than I anticipated. We encountered a number of foreseeable challenges and hiring and training someone is a rather fluid process that resists being time-bound by a strict timeline.
  • I had to ensure a buy-in from all stakeholders: the QA team would be depleted, HR had to be more involved and the development team had to adjust to having someone that junior on the team.
  • Her transition was impeccably successful and it served us to highlight our company’s goal of supporting career progressions of our employees.
  • When as a manager you are concerned that everyone is doing their job well -- that is a very low bar approach. As a manager, you should also aspire to raise your own bar and be more concerned if your employees are happy with what they are doing, with their career progression, with things they are learning, etc.

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