What are the benefits of having a Professional Development Ladder? A professional development ladder can provide benefits for professional development, team capability, promotion criteria, hiring criteria, and skills management. Obviously, your mileage will vary and it largely depends on the quality of the ladder and the people and process helping you through the ladder. In Professional Software Development: Shorter Schedules, Higher Quality Products, More Successful Projects, Enhanced Careers , Steve McConnell shares the benefits of having used a Professional Development Ladder at Construx for more than five years.
Benefits of a Professional Development Ladder
McConnell outlines the following benefits he’s experienced at his company from using a Professional Development Ladder over five years:
- Accelerated professional development. We have achieved our primary goal of improving the skills of our technical employees, and development occurs surprisingly quickly. when interviewing candidates for technical jobs, we typically find that our internal standards for a Construx Engineer with two or three years of experience are comparable to many companies’ standards for their most senior engineers.
- Team capability. By standardizing on the CKAs, our staff has developed a shared knowledge and experience base. This has improved communication among our staff and supports highly efficient specialized leadership roles.
- Well-liked promotion criteria. We’ve found that our technical staff appreciate the openness of our promotion structure. They feel that they can be in control of their own career development, and they feel that they actually have careers, not just jobs.
- Hiring. Basing our internal work on the CKAs provides us with a straightforward way to assess technical job candidates. We can assess candidates according to their capabilities in each CKA. We have found that assessment of candidates by different members of our staff is remarkably consistent.
- Anti-hiring. Our ladder requires a level of personal accountability that some prospective employees do not like. Making our professional development expectations explicit during the hiring process allows us to weed out candidates who are not serious about software engineering.
- Skills inventory management. The 10X3 CKA matrix gives us a natural, structured way of tracking the capabilities of our company’s software engineering staff.
- Moral and retention. Although the Professional Development Ladder is only one piece of the equation, we believe it substantially contributes to our company’s high retention and morale. As the time I am writing this, Construx has been a finalist in Washington CEO Magazine’s Best Small Companies to Work For competition three years in a row, and we have not lost a technical employee to voluntary turnover in more than three years.
Key Take Aways
Here’s my key take aways:
- Accelerate professional growth.
- Build shared knowledge and an experience base.
- Hire more people at the right skills and experience.
- Structure improvement over hoping for the right set of experiences and knowledge.
- Professional Development Ladder (Construx)
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