Progression
You've got questions. We have answers: A compilation of HR's FAQs about career progression

You've got questions. We have answers: A compilation of HR's FAQs about career progression

Posted by Meg Traynier on

The pandemic introduced a new era, one where employees are demanding more from their workplaces. And one where HR professionals have to completely rethink how they attract and retain talent.

Over 60% of HR directors believe workers will need to hone their current skills or acquire new ones yearly to stay competitive in the global market. Eighty-two percent of employees agree.

To which we say: What better way to support a team than with a career progression framework?

Why not give team members more control over their progression and satisfy their craving for career development, allowing them to stay competitive in the job market and on top of personal and professional goals at the same time?

Got more questions? Don’t worry. We have answers! Here’s a collection of FAQs from HR teams about career progression.

Q: How is career progression different from performance management?

We think of it like this…

Career progression is all about enabling individuals to stay engaged with, feel fulfilled in and get excited about their role and the opportunities available to them as they develop their skills. It’s often supported by initiatives like self-assessments, 1:1s, training, coaching and mentoring, among others.

The employee’s participation in the entire process is necessary, meaning progression in their current position or a subsequent position no longer feels like it’s just in the hands of their managers. It’s in their own hands, too.

Whereas, traditional performance management is when the company provides feedback regarding how employees have been doing (think: annual reviews). Its overall goal is to help employees make better use of their talents and achieve business and personal goals.

So yeah, we’d say they’re pretty different. Career progression is where it’s at for companies who encourage employees to take the reins of their own careers...

Comparing the two, it’s not surprising why workers have been leaving for better career development options more and more over the past couple of years.

Q: Will assessing career progression have to come with a promotion for the employee?

The end goal of progression may be for the employee to get promoted. But that’s not always the case.

The whole point of career progression is for employees to hone their skills, feel fulfilled in their work, and grow as individuals. By measuring their career progression, they can see where skills can be developed, where they’re exceeding and how they’re advancing with their career goals.

We repeat. Career progression can build an employee’s case for promotion, but this is not the sole purpose of a career progression framework. The purpose is for the employee to progress in their role and watch it take shape from there (hence the name).

After all, most people don’t want to feel like they’re at a standstill with their roles.

And recent studies show career development is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a need-to-have for employers who want to retain top talent. (More on this later!)

Q: What is a career progression framework?

A career progression framework is a structured plan that you build with skills, positions, parallel tracks and requirements. You’re essentially creating pathways for your employees.

At a glance, your employees will see exactly where their current skills place them and what they can do to level up.

The framework isn’t just linear. Employees can also see what it would look like to be in a parallel track.

Here’s one we made earlier…

Career progression framework

When creating your framework, you can start from scratch simply by adding existing skills, competencies and behaviours into a new framework. On Progression, you can use templates for entire teams with parallel tracks. (They’re ready to deploy at the click of a button.)

And don’t worry if your first framework is wrong. That’s okay!

Q: Will a progression framework help me with some of the work I do in HR?

To clarify, improving your team’s progression is not about the framework. (We know. Ironic coming from a company that sells frameworks…) Improving your team’s progression is about starting a conversation.

Having one-on-one conversations about their skills with each team member not only helps them get clarity on their current position, but it also allows them to develop a vision for their future.

And yes, a progression framework can help you shape and navigate these sometimes difficult career conversations better.

Because the truth is, conversations can exist without frameworks, but frameworks should never exist without conversations.

Q: Isn’t creating a progression framework hard?

We said it before, and we’ll say it again. Your first framework doesn’t have to be perfect. (And honestly, it shouldn’t be.)

The whole point is to start progression conversations, develop a minimum viable framework with the core skills your team requires (either from scratch or using one of our templates), and iterate as you go.

The only way to know if your progression framework will work is if you actually use it. So, get going!

(And as you’re going, feel free to check out our new “comments” feature in the framework build area. It’s all about collaborating!)

Q: Can’t I just take the framework structure and put it in a spreadsheet?

Yes, you technically could just take the framework structure and put it in a spreadsheet. But keep in mind that spreadsheets are synonymous with errors, limited project size, and wasted time.

Plus, they don’t help people engage with them.

And not to mention the wasted work when it’s copied, saved over and edited accidentally in the cloud...

Save yourself the headache. Use a one-of-a-kind tool like Progression, which is built for the task. You’ll thank us later. Trust us. (See what the spreadsheet-loving CodeCombat team had to say about the switch.)

Q: What needs to be included in a progression framework?

We encourage core skills to be the center of every progression framework across the business. With core skills, we mean communication, team leadership, initiative and any other skill that’s a staple across departments.

By doing so, there’s shared culture and a higher possibility of internal mobility.

Think about it: If all core skills are identical between cross-functional teams, employees will value each of the skills in the same way because they’re all defined the same.

Likewise, having consistent skills makes it easier for employees to switch teams or departments. (They’re automatically partly qualified for whatever position they’d like to pursue.)

Yes, you’ll still need separate craft skills. But make as many skills as possible transferable across the business.

Q: Will a progression framework help me retain employees?

We all know that turnover is expensive, with total associated costs ranging from 90% to 200% of an employee’s annual salary. (Ouch…)

So, when you have employees coming to you, clearly distressed with their career progression or hinting at it with comments like “I’m not sure what I’m going to do next,” the logical next step is to build a progression framework.

And FYI, careers-driven retention takes more than just a framework. Remember up above when we said it all starts with a conversation? That doesn’t change here.

If employee retention is your goal, you need to focus on the team member. This means having forward-thinking career conversations, building a framework that allows them to advance toward their goals, and then tracking their progress.

Progression frameworks are just a small piece of the retention puzzle.

Q: Is there a way to build progression frameworks fast?

We’re already three steps ahead of you. Introducing our “quick-start” frameworks.

We get that construction of frameworks can stall progression conversations. That’s why we’ve created quick-start frameworks so you can build yours quickly and adapt it as needed once the conversation gets going.

Quick-start career progression framework

In each of our quick-start frameworks, we have three individual contributor positions and one management position. Fundamentally, there are only five skills you need to track for career development. They’re usually split into two craft skills, two human skills, and one leadership skill, but this depends on the department.

For example, with the Quick Start Marketing Team, the only marketing-specific technical skill is Using Data. The other skills required are Brand, Communication, Initiative, and Team Leadership.

You can start tracking other skills after speaking with your team. (Again, these quick-start frameworks are just to get the ball rolling. We’re giving you the bare bones so you don’t dilly dally with getting to the most important part – the conversations.)

Go to our library and search for Quick Start to find these specific frameworks.

Q: We already have so many tools. Do we need another one?

Yes, you do need another tool. But the likelihood is that this is going to replace a spreadsheet or Word doc that might not even be on your radar!

Progression is not a tool to replace HR tools. There are plenty of those out there doing a splendid job.

We’re here to make life easier for everyone involved in the career-building process (HR, team leaders and – most importantly – the individuals) by specializing in frameworks and what they mean.

So say goodbye to the cumbersome spreadsheets that still fall short of expectations and hello to an interactive, human-friendly tool that shows your team where they are today and where they could go.

With Progression, you’ll not only keep your teams aligned with shared skills, but also power 1:1 progression conversations with real data, give your team personal insights, and transfer their achievements as they change positions.

But if you don’t want to implement another tool, be prepared to waste time, get lots of headaches, or face turnover tsunami if you don’t find a satisfactory solution to career progression soon (like, yesterday).

The Future of Career Development Starts Here

If providing meaningful experiences for your employees is top-of-mind, having a career progression tool is non-negotiable.

Not only will you be setting them up for success in their current positions, but you will also be paving the way for promotions, garnering confidence in their abilities, and showing them that you care about where they’re headed – in or outside of your organization.

They’ll see they’re not only working at a job. They’re growing their careers.

If helping your team design a career they love is part of your plan, try Progression for 30 days, free. (No credit card required. Get up and running in minutes.)


Written by Meg Traynier

Customer Success Lead at Progression

Meg on LinkedIn

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