Monday, July 11, 2016

Career ladders

A few years ago, I served on a committee to identify new career ladders for our IT teams. This work originated with a document I wrote about how to "level set" the compensation and seniority for our operations and infrastructure staff, many of who had joined our team as part of IT consolidations from different parts of the organization. In that document, I set a new career progression, from "junior" to "staff" to "senior" to "team lead," with compensation ranges for each. This document was going to be the basis for a re-organization of my teams.

My director liked the idea of planning for career levels, and we moved the idea forward to our HR department. From that concept, the career ladders committee was formed. The career ladder committee expanded on my original plan, and established a new organizational structure for IT staff, in different categories.

I have since used this career ladder concept as a basis for organizational planning. The document provides a simple overview of technology teams and how job areas are aligned and related. Our work was expansive. We defined eight separate career tracks, with different levels within each:
  1. Development
  2. Database Management
  3. IT Security
  4. Systems Analysis & Administration
  5. Network Analysis & Administration
  6. Business/System Analysis
  7. IT Management
  8. IT Generalist

The picture below represents the organizational structure based on that list. The picture should be read from the bottom up, representing the infrastructure, to systems, to development, to support of the end user. The usefulness of this picture is to ensure that our career ladders do not miss any key areas or functions of IT work, requiring significantly different skill sets, work knowledge, and responsibilities; specifically, a different career path.

Enduser/desktop/helpdesk supportManagement
Code Migration
Change Control
Software Admin
Application Support
Systems DBAApplication DBA
Systems AdminSecurity
NetworkData CenterOperationsAutomation

How do you manage career ladders at your organization? Do your staff know how they can advance? Every organization has "star" performers who excel at what they do, and who want to do more. How do you reward these employees? How does your organization invest in them?

It's often said that the best reward for hard work is more work. And that is true to a point, and gets you pretty far with many people. But you will eventually need to consider career progression for these top performers. How you engage them in their careers goes a long way to retaining your top talent.

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