Taking Flight: Supporting internal growth with our Progression Framework

With extreme growth comes responsibility. We’ve quadrupled our headcount in 2020 and although more than half of our team has been with us less than a year, mapping out what’s next is absolutely critical to our success.

Internally, we’ve dubbed 2021 as the Year of Growth. External facilitators are expanding our mindsets by teaching us about topics like neurodiversity and micro-habits and literal growth is happening at a fast pace for our product and team. At the beginning of the year, we started researching and planning how to build a Progression framework to help create a roadmap for team members’ future at Whereby.

There are countless frameworks out there that cover career roadmaps for particular functions, but our remote-first, worldwide approach to work adds another layer of complexity. We’re exploring how to stay true to this approach as we grow by using Organizational Design Principles, our Compensation Philosophy, and our newly revamped Company Values. The Progression Framework is another piece of the puzzle that connects these resources to help our team and potential candidates navigate, plan, and progress in their Whereby journey.

We focus on hiring self-directed people who can handle managing their own time and collaborate with people who have different working styles in different timezones. It’s great for team members that prefer working autonomously - but it makes it extra important to have a shared understanding of expectations, strategy, and what’s next.

Paloma Medina, Public Speaker and Owner of 11:11 Supply, stated that people have six core needs to be satisfied at work. The six core needs are:

  1. Fairness

  2. Progress

  3. Belonging

  4. Predictability

  5. Significance

  6. Choice

We wanted to make sure these needs were covered in building our Whereby Progression Framework to make sure every employee has options to grow, in ways that align with their vision for the future of their career.

How we built the framework

We recognized quickly that we’d need a lot of input to understand how progression works for different teams and team members at different levels. We started by interviewing team members to learn more about what mattered to them at work. We spent weeks holding workshops on Miro, creating surveys with Typeform, and having space for people to knock on our Whereby doors for open hours to simply ask the team: In building this framework, what is most important to you?

As we mapped key employee milestones - from prospective employees to past employees - we began identifying gaps and areas to improve our offering.

Key skills emerged as we learned that, across all teams, people were applying the same skills to successfully do their job.

The skills that emerged were:

  1. Building: Creating tech-enabled, beautiful products

  2. Planning: Making tasks big and small manageable

  3. Communications: Sharing information effectively, efficiently, and elegantly

  4. Culture Building: Contributing or shaping how we interact as an organization

  5. Relationship Building: Collaborating with team members and external partners

Recognizing how team members at different levels were applying these skills helped us pinpoint how people can assess their performance and plan to ‘level up’ in the future.

As our team focuses on hiring 65 new Wherebyrds across all functions this year, it’s important that our job descriptions are built and assessed for the immediate role and what’s next for a person if they join us. We want new hires to know we have their future in mind and be transparent about our plans for growth.

Incorporating our values

Our values, lovingly deemed our ETHOS, guide our project and policy development. To make sure they stay top of mind in determining how people will progress, we incorporated them into our skills matrix and into the framework design.

One of our values is Human First and we know that a one-size-fits-all approach to career planning and development won’t work for everyone. So instead of outlining one path forward, we determined three ‘tracks’ team members could pursue. The tracks align with different working styles and team members’ interests, helping people who aren’t super keen on managing a team find ways to continue growing their skills and responsibilities within the company.

The tracks are…

Expert: Looking after things

This track is for people who are invested in developing specific, function-based knowledge which is crucial for every role. This means choosing tools and processes that are best suited to the goals of your team. This track is for those of us that enjoy being subject matter experts (SMEs) and sharing knowledge.

Entrepreneur: Looking after ideas

This track is for people who enjoy thinking about the big picture, looking deeply at systems and processes and thinking about how to make Whereby more efficient and better connected.

People Leader: Looking after people

This track is for our colleagues who find their greatest satisfaction in leading, supporting and coaching others.

The tracks help people ‘level up’ in the areas that align best with their interests, ambitions, and talents.

How it works

We defined 7 levels of progression that Wherebyrds can move through. From Inaugurate team members at level 1 to Executive and C-Suite team leaders at level 7, we determined how core skills, competencies and values will build on each other.

Using a generic framework as a starting point, team leads were invited to add function-specific details to their framework. That way, members across the organization have a clear view of the specific skills and responsibilities they need to demonstrate to progress to the next level. They can also clearly see the tools, strategies, and milestones they need to reach in their functional roles.

Our progression framework maps to our compensation framework, making sure each team members’ career growth, learning and development can be pursued fairly and as transparently as possible.

What about the people already in leadership positions?

Every piece of feedback counts. We interviewed and codified feedback from our Senior members, Directors, and Executive team. There are development opportunities for all levels and there are always new skills to learn and improve.

Our leadership team wants to ensure that we have a healthy work/life balance, people can see their growth potential at Whereby, and that leadership decisions are clear and transparent each step of the way.

The framework also supports leaders’ plans for the future, helping the organization scale with intention and nurture growth within the team. It’s a useful tool for determining where people are at right now. As our team gets more experienced and the framework becomes embedded in performance reviews, it will be useful for making room for meaningful growth on our team - from new hires to longtime contributors.

Now we’re testing it out across our teams, and helping team members set goals for the next quarter and keep track of their progress and growth at Whereby. Interested in starting your Whereby journey?

Apply to one of our open roles!

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