Plotting the Path to Success

Plotting the Path to Success: Building a Career Roadmap for Tech Professionals

Many software organisations which have some experience in employee retention are aware that, while money is a significant motivation, it is not the only one for sure. Top talents seek both financial and career development. According to Zavvy statistics, 70% of employees believe they will have to quit their current job to advance their careers. 

Unfortunately, a number of small and even medium-sized companies do not plan the career growth of their staff for a variety of reasons: a lack of systematicity, a poor HR organisation, an ill-conceived positional hierarchy, etc. Often, CEOs and firm owners are satisfied with the fact that a person diligently performs their work in the same position for years. In their opinion, promotion means replacement costs, working time loss, and rearranging business processes.

However, when a purposeful, responsible tech professional develops professionally, gains years of experience, advance skills and competence, and sticks to the lifelong learning principle, he “grows out of his position” eventually. In case such a specialist cannot see clear career prospects, sooner or later, he starts searching for more exciting options elsewhere. The day he hands you a resignation letter, the established work order will be destroyed, and you’ll scramble to find a proper replacement.

Software and SaaS employers need to carefully consider the construction of career ladders in their organisations and create a development program for every position so your tech pros see their upward mobility track. Read further in our blog about how to do it right and what tactics and methods to use.

What is a career path?

If you want to manage the progress of your tech team and create conditions that will keep the best specialists in the company, individually tailored career development plans are a must. 

A career path is a set of certain steps a person can take to grow professionally within your organisation. In order to advance in their current role, they will need to meet both short-term and long-term objectives, which are outlined in the following timeline. Each employee’s professional development plan is tailored to their specific interests, soft skills, and professional abilities. The worker’s current position serves as the starting point for this plan’s thorough progression to the next level of employment.

Employees may better visualise their future inside the software organisation when there is a clear path laid out for them to follow. By outlining the steps necessary to advance in one’s career, a career path makes it clear to employees what kind of education, training, and experience will be expected of them in order to be considered for various positions of increasing responsibility. Leadership that provides a clear roadmap for staff to advance is a sign that they value their employees’ efforts.

Career paths can assist software organisations in several ways: 

  • Retain your top performers
  • Provide tech pros with personal career goals, inspiration, and motivation
  • Improve employee performance
  • Attract high performers
  • Boost team’s total knowledge, experience, and diversity
  • Create an employee-focused company culture
  • Compete with other IT businesses in your industry

How to start

Before creating a career path for a particular position, the software employer should clearly understand there is a way to move and “save points” to gain momentum and celebrate career achievements. Therefore, an organisational chart should always be available and refreshed.

An organisational chart is a scheme that illustrates your firm’s structure. It is a graphical depiction of the links and hierarchy. Your business structure might be hierarchical, flat, or something in between.

Make sure your organisational chart complements your business strategy. Do you plan to produce new products or services? Have you considered entering new markets? You may need to add new roles, teams, or even departments.

Now is the time to detail the primary duties and demands of each position from the org chart, including the necessary educational degrees, experience level, competence, and hard and soft skills. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be included as well. Think about the best performers in each position and write down the characteristics which make them effective in their roles.

Be precise in outlining the tech pro’s expected level of performance. Assess the worker’s present-day capabilities, expertise, knowledge, and experience. That sheds light on why some enhancements are worthwhile targets. Consider the qualifications essential for the employee’s desired positions. Consult your staff about their long-term professional aspirations by inquiring about the specific goals they hope to accomplish in their current position.

Building a development roadmap

After settling on clear job descriptions and evaluations, you may take a few steps back and embrace the broader picture. Now it’s time to draw a roadmap for every company person, group, or department, outlining how they will go where they need to go.

As we said before, the corporate policy should contain indicators by which a SaaS leader can evaluate the employee’s efficiency. When a certain level is reached, a part of the authority functions must be delegated to a diligent individual. Thus, a high performer transfers from the line employee to a manager rank. This way, the employer can kill two birds with one stone: scale software business and develop the best tech personnel.

This strategy is like a roadmap that helps an employee see precisely what he may expect from working selflessly for the firm. The roadmap should include:

  • Goals and achievements by terms: 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, 5 years. Here we indicate what skills and technologies a person should master in order to move to the next career step.
  • Increase in compensation for achieving set goals within estimated terms
  • Tools offered by the company for meeting goals promptly. It can be access to internal or external courses, guides, and intensives that allow you to grow professionally.
  • A company mentor who will help in mastering a difficult topic.

Remember that there won’t be a single ladder leading from any basic position to a more sophisticated one. There will be a lot more work opportunities available if you don’t have highly specialised job tasks. This may be a huge asset in guiding workers into fulfilling careers. For many, there will be a series of sideways steps involved.

Grading system

The creation of a grading system may be a good idea to make the personnel organisational system clearer and more understandable. A CNBC poll found that 39% of workers would consider a career change for higher pay. A grading system can be implemented to form criteria for promotion and salary increases, showing employees at what stage their profits will rise. 

For example, there are several growth positions in the IT industry:

  • Junior – a beginner with good theoretical and basic practical skills (Junior DevOps Engineers, Web Developers, Security Analyst etc).
  • Middle – a highly qualified self-sufficient specialist who is responsible for most of the current work.
  • Senior – the most experienced go-to expert in the team for guidance and product quality, who also bears ultimate responsibility for those two factors.
  • Lead – a technical specialist with management functions. He leads the team and is more responsible for communication and the final result than technical implementation.

Grades can be implemented in any business and in any type of role using the same reasoning. An HR assistant role, for instance, might serve as an entry point into the human resources field. Someone working their way up the HR ladder can start as a benefits consultant, then move on to recruiter, assistant director, and finally chief human resources officer.

It is crucial that each employee has a vision of his development within the company for years to come and a set of goals that he aspires to and may work toward. Having confidence about “the day of tomorrow” allows tech professionals to work at their highest potential. 

Providing training opportunities 

The next thing to do is figure out if you can help your tech staff to follow the route. Get started by recording all current internal and external training initiatives.

  • Can your staff climb the corporate ladder with the tools you provide?
  • Is mentorship between peers and/or leaders a crucial aspect of your culture?
  • Do you offer ongoing education?
  • Survey your employees: what sort of training are they looking for?
  • Examine exit interviews: why do workers leave your company?
  • Which divisions often bring in new staff, and which hire from within?

Clearly, if you have not made significant investments in training before, this section will demand the most considerable time and assets. Here is the meat of your Career Development Plan. 

Provide staff with the opportunity to test out other positions within the software company. Create a mentorship and work shadowing program to provide your entry-level employees with real-world experience in leadership roles if they want to advance in the firm. Facilitate programs where workers may shadow CEOs to gain new skills and ask in-depth questions about the function by first asking employees which higher-level roles they would want to serve for a day.

Offering a wide range of opportunities encourages your tech staff to strive for the promotion that would bring them to the desired position. They can use this information to determine if they should aim for a new role within the organisation. To help employees learn the ins and outs of the business, as well as acquire new abilities and broaden their perspectives, one may institute a job rotation program.

Types of career paths

Software firms should realise that all people are different, and everyone has their own vision of career development. For instance, a talented software developer who does a great technical job will not always show high results after being promoted to a managerial position. Not everyone has the talent for team management and strategic thinking, and the manager’s task is to recognise the personality type and driving motivations of his employee.

In order to understand which growth strategy is more suitable for a tech professional follow this strategy:

  • Vertical promotion: Employers should look for an individual who is proactive, willing to assist the company, and able to assume responsibility. If he feels he cannot cope with a new role, he can warn about it in time, preventing negative consequences for the software business.
  • Horizontal promotion: Employers should keep an eye on specialists who are in love with their work. They prefer development within the limits of their specialisation and a grade increase along with a salary raise. It is easier for such an employee to transfer to another company as he has comprehensive knowledge and years of experience. Therefore, in order to retain such a specialist, it is necessary to offer really favorable working conditions and review them from time to time for competitiveness.
  • Dual career ladders: Unlike traditional career ladders, this one allows workers to advance without ever having to assume a managerial role. This is an excellent option for tech pros who want to further their careers but aren’t interested in or qualified for managerial roles.
  • Scaled-back career: Some workers may consider taking a lower-level position as an alternative to climbing the corporate ladder. Employees who find their work boring, think their current position moves too quickly, or consider a career change can benefit from this. Reducing the pace of one’s professional advancement allows one to step back and think about whether or not one truly wants to remain in one’s current job or sector.

If you would like to discuss all the ins and outs of building effective, motivating, and retaining career development plans for your tech professionals, book a call with me or with my team members at Snap Talent International. We’ll share what some of the most successful software leaders are doing to ensure their staff can clearly see their professional and career growth within the company.

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