What is the Purpose of Job Leveling?
Career ladders help companies make sure that they're taking a consistent approach to the way they evaluate and pay their team members. They also help team members understand how to progress between titles in a specific department.
- Titles and Promotions
Ben describes why job leveling is almost always necessary, the inherent risks with it (including the law of crappy people), and how to manage those risks with a strong promotion process.
Guides On How to Set Up Job Levels
Across a variety of companies, the process to set up job levels usually follows these steps: 1. Assembling a committee for who will be consulted on the project and who will be directly responsible for executing it 2. Define the audience(s) - which might include employees, managers, department leaders, and HR - and identify their needs via research interviews 3. Execute a “competitive landscape audit” - see how other relevant companies have produced for their teams 4. Decide on the levels to be created 5. Decide on the structure for what goes into a level - usually in the form of skills / competencies, and usually they’re grouped. Successful job levels usually include both hard and soft skills, in order to accurately reflect what a person does in their job. 6. Give examples of what a behavior on the job that reflects a competency looks like at your company, so that managers and employees have examples to guide them (but not necessarily to restrict them) 7. Determine if a company’s values will be integrated with the skills / competencies 8. Beta-test it as a “draft” with a group of managers and employees. Ask the managers to put an employee in a level, and ask the employee to put themselves in a level, based on the contents of the draft job levels, competencies, and competency example behaviors. Ideally, you know the job level documentation is working if a high percentage of managers and employees put the employee in the same level. This will also generate buy-in. 9. Set up a process for evaluating and updating the job level documentation over time, to capture feedback and edge cases. Communicate to the team that job levels are living documents that can be refined.
- Designing a Career Ladder for Product Design
Helena walks through her process for building a career ladder at for the design team at DoorDash. She identified the audiences, performed a competitive landscape audit, established design principles, designed a solution, and then tested and iterated with the audiences. She wraps up with 4 key learnings.
- Job Title Leveling That Worked For Us
Jason walks through the story of launching leveling to FloSports' engineering team. Interestingly, during the launch they asked engineers to rank themselves according to the new framework, and the self-rankings aligned 100% with where managers placed them. This produced a high degree of team buy-in.
How to Use Job Levels
Setting up job leveling is just the first step - the next step is use it continuously!
- How to Use Your Career Ladder
Caitlin explains how to roll out a newly-developed career ladder by anticipating the questions that your team members might have (with examples). She also covers how to have growth-focused conversations, how to align team responsibilities, how to manage up before promotion time, how to announce promotions, and how to use career ladders in hiring.
Job Levels for Individual Contributors
- How Individuals Advance at Buffer, Without Becoming Managers
Buffer developed an internal job leveling framework that lets you grow over time into a manager and/or lets you grow your skills horizontally as a maker.
Job Levels for Managers
For someone who is looking to get into management or is new to management, it can be hard to decipher the meaning behind titles like “manager”, “director”, and “VP”. Are they really different from one another? What do these people do differently in their roles? It turns out there are meaningful differences. Managers are new to people management and typically manage individual contributors. They usually have the experience of the individual contributors they manage, and can take responsibility for team outcomes, but are still learning people management skills and will have questions and will need support. They usually do not yet develop departmental strategy, but instead decide and manage the tactics to execute on for strategies that have already been created. Directors usually manage managers, and possibly some individual contributors. They are paid to drive results with little or no supervision and can easily judge whether right tactics are being used for a project. They usually are very good at working cross-functionally with other departments across the organization, and are either driving strategy or a strong contributor to it. VPs are paid to set the strategy of their department, and they are accountable to the outcomes of that strategy. They understand the business they work in regardless of what department they are in, they set strategy, build consensus around it, and drive their department to have the right team, processes, and technologies in place to succeed with that strategy. For more on managers, directors, and VPs, check out:
- Career Development: What It Really Means to be a Manager, Director, or VP
While Dave is not a fan of many leveling approaches, he is a fan of defining the use of Manager, Director, and VP in job titles: Managers are paid to drive results with some support Directors are paid to drive results with little or no supervision VPs are paid to make the plan