Outside of hiring, the best way to improve the strengths of your team
is to practice career development coaching with your developers. Not all team members will want to become Staff Developers or Managers. Instead, identifying their individual career goals and proactively working towards those goal is the most effective way to help team members improve and have ownership over their careers. In addition to the company-wide notes on career
here are some important considerations for the Engineering team:
Technical or Professional Leadership? This is the first section on our
for a reason. For Senior Developers, this is the most important question to
ask about their career goals, as it will determine where they go next. For
anyone who hasn't yet made Senior, this is less important - they need to
make Senior first - but it's always a good idea to start talking about this
fork in our career paths.
Assess together. Once you know where your Developer wants to go with their
careers, it's time to assess their strengths and weaknesses for the position.
This is best done by reviewing the responsibilities and
requirements of the job they're
interested in. If you both assess it separately, you can compare and contrast
Create a behavior-based plan. Once you understand the Developer's
strengths and weaknesses, help them understand how they can improve by
focusing on behaviors they can change. Be careful to avoid tasks like "run
this meeting" or "complete this project," and be careful to avoid personality
traits like "be less angry" or "be more assertive." "When you realize you're
in an argument, take a breath and figure out how to move forward
constructively" is an example of a good behavioral action.
Delegate and give feedback. When you are in agreement about the behavioral
action plan, start looking for opportunities to delegate appropriate tasks to
the Developer. A Senior looking to move to Staff may benefit from taking some
architectural conversations off of your plate, while one looking for a Manager
job will learn a lot from tackling some project management initiatives.
Keep the plan updated. It's important to remember that this is a coaching
plan, not a promotion plan. There is never any guarantee that the plan you
created will result in a promotion if the Developer "checks all the boxes,"
and you should feel free to add to or remove from the plan as they grow and
you learn more about them. If and when you feel that they are ready for
promotion, please follow the normal promotion