To unsubscribe from all chat room notifications, please first login:

[mepr-login-form use_redirect="false"]

Career paths in small organization

Career paths in small organization

Posted: 13th November 2020

Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
  • Author
  • #8268

      Hello everyone,

      I have a question about career paths in small organisation. Are they really necessary? If yes, what could be the best way for setting them? If no, how to work on expectation management in the team?

      Our context:

      We’re a 60 people IT company, still working as a startup. We do not have plans of a fascinating growth from team size.

      Most of our people are specialists (analysts, developers, PMs, etc). Some of them have mixed positions like 50% specialist role/50% Team lead/People manager, etc.

      We have guidelines how to move from jr to senior in professional field, but we do not have a clear career paths how you can move through various positions or what positions everyone can expect (like after 3 years you can become a Team lead).

      What do we communicate are our open positions and encourage our people to take a possibility if they want.
      Also, we communicate, that if someone has a dream to become a TL, people manager, PM, etc, talk to your people manager, we’ll help them to grow competences and when the possibility arise we’ll pick the closest match.

      But I have an issue.
      – Some of our management team believe that career paths are must, because other their people want to see them. (We have people who joined us after experience in huge companies and there they saw their career paths, but in our company I’m sceptical about this, because if we won’t grow rapidly all the plans will be without any value for our people).
      – Other team members say, that this is not necessary for them and their people, the growth they express like taking more responsibilities or areas of interest that people are interested in.

      My personal opinion would be to agree on the second opinion, but the push is quite big. So I think what would be the best way for us regarding our situation?

      Thank you in advance.


        We feel your pain but hold firm as you’re absolutely right in your desired approach.

        When you join a smaller flatter organisation you are saying goodbye to all the structure and process and comfort of your career being laid out for you and instead, getting a different type of career experience – the ability to move around more easily,  get involved in broader activities, learn new skills etc.. But it does mean having to manage your own career and cope with ambiguity which can be tough for some personalities.

        It might be worth pushing back to the managers that say they want and ask ‘Why do you think your people need this?’ or even asking your people the same question.  In our experience, the demand to implement career paths is a knee jerk response because people are frustrated by a (perceived) lack of career progression and recognition.  We know a career path is not going to fix that.

        For the approach you’re advocating perhaps you could with them on how they want their people to feel about their career and then work on creating that feeling.  Then you can push back when they want to deviate to something more structured e.g.

        “We want to provide you with an environment where you can learn every day, have the opportunity to grow and develop and to play to your strengths. We won’t map out your career for you and we celebrate our flat structure,  but we will make sure you’re aware of what might be available, talk about careers and your development and create some interesting opportunities for you to experience new skills. Ultimately though, you own your career and we look to you to know yourself, know what you’re good at, know where you want to go, etc. We’ll do everything we can to help you get there.“

        How we will make it happen (you’re probably already doing this but a few examples)

        • Encourage our people to ask their manager for a career discussion as and when they need one (search Box of conversations on the club for help with career conversations)
        • Develop a careers/learning hub (e.g. Facebook Workplace) of curated resources: project opportunities, articles, videos, eLearning,  examples from your people about their personal career journey stories
        • Encourage people to find their own mentors and shadow people in other teams
        • Hold online lunchtime learning sessions to share knowledge.  Ask more employees to share their expertise
        • Provide managers with a budget to recognise/thanks people for taking on additional responsibility, doing a great job –  in the moment appreciation
        • Managers will meet together regularly to discuss their teams – who is ready for something different, what roles need refreshing etc..(Talent discussions support in the Box of Meetings on the club)

        Good luck – let us know how it goes?



          On this topic you mentioned on a webinar today a particular tactic another company is deploying around career development called ‘career navigator’ –  where employees get to pick and choose which projects they work on.

          I’d be very interested in this as we have based our career conversations with employees on them not having to necessarily be straight up (i.e. junior > senior >  manager > senior manager etc) but they can be side ways instead (i.e. immerse into a niche aspect of the role or broadening their skills within their current role). This suits us better as we are quite non hierarchal and we’d like to keep it this way where possible.

          Therefore I was wondering if you have any more specific details on how the ‘career navigator’ idea works and potentially a toolkit?

          Great webinar today!


            Hi Gemma,

            So glad you found the webinar from yesterday useful. The ‘Career Navigator’ example is from UBS. You can read more details on how it works here.

            Great idea regarding a toolkit! We’ll try and put something together soon and we’ll post it on the club.

            Best wishes,

            Disruptive HR Team



              Thank you! We’re doing some initiatives but I need to talk with managers more to dig on why?

              I feel that there’s a lack of expectation management and now HR is fault for that 🙂

            Viewing 5 posts - 1 through 5 (of 5 total)
            • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

            Your Favourites

                No Favorites

            Successfully added to your favourites. View them here