In order to provide all employees with clear opportunities for growth, we use a job levels system. This system applies to all roles and gives us a rubric for setting compensation and assigning responsibilities.
Our system defines six levels for every title. Levels are set by management and not shared publicly. Earning a level increase generally will be accompanied by an increase in pay and sometimes a change in responsibilities.
Please note: Not all descriptors are equally important for all roles. It is up to individual managers to determine the degree to which each characteristic matters and is applicable to a given role. Managers are encouraged to consider a given job's function when determining the proper weighting for each quality.
The following is a description of the criteria we use to determine someone's level:
Capable of handling many assigned tasks within a narrow area of expertise. Lots of oversight from management or a higher level colleague is necessary to review work. Breadth of experience is limited and comfort is with a very small number of focuses. Not yet familiar with most aspects of our products, services, and processes. First time working professionally in this role. Could clearly benefit from seeking help sooner and more often.
Some oversight and review is needed for primary functions. Most submitted work meets our standards. Clearly communicates with manager when encountering work related challenges. Exhibits noticeable increase in capacity for standard duties. Comfortable suggesting new ideas within scope of influence. Able to contribute using multiple technologies. Demonstrates noticeable time management improvements. Seeks out mentorship to help with growth.
Able to work mostly independently and assist with a variety of duties beyond core focus. Provides useful feedback and ideas which help improve our processes. Reliably shares progress updates before managers have to ask for them. Demonstrates initiative by addressing issues and completing to-dos without being asked. Solves problems in increasingly creative and effective ways. Takes on new responsibilities and/or additional workload without primary assignments suffering. Clearly understands which assignments are the highest priorities and consistently spends the most time on those assignments. Actively seeks feedback from colleagues and manager. Continuously seeks to learn new skills, techniques, and tactics which are beyond what is required for current assignments.
Capable of leading an entire project from start to finish. Comfortable with most aspects of our process and technologies. No assistance or oversight required for normal duties. Can assist with the mentoring and training of new hires. Communicates clear progress updates to the rest of the team. Estimates of time to complete assigned tasks and projects are accurate more often than not. Receives negative feedback graciously. Exhibits clear time management skills. Demonstrates a willingness to work outside of comfort zone. Possesses unique skills which are sometimes requested by other teams.
Acts as a role-model by exemplifying company values. All work meets or exceeds our standards and can often be used as an example of "how it should be done". Can lend assistance with reviewing the work of more junior counterparts. Shares detailed updates on team progress with the rest of the company. Capable of leading some highly complex projects. Able to fully scope most new projects. Provides colleagues with constructive feedback and actionable suggestions for improvement. Almost never falls behind on assignments to the degree that teammates need to pick up the slack. Willing and able to deliver high quality informative and/or educational presentations to the rest of the company when called upon. Is often a "voice of reason" who helps diffuse tense situations and can appropriately navigate interpersonal conflicts. Has a knack for distilling complex ideas and concepts such that they can be understood by those outside of the project.
Capable of consulting higher level management and lending valuable insight. Work is innovative and always high quality. No assignment within discipline is too complicated for meaningful contributions to be made. Able to fully and accurately scope any new project no matter how complex. Understands the bigger picture beyond personal assignments very well and can make pragmatic decisions based on broad business implications. Very rarely commits serious time estimate miscalculations. Is extremely effective at time management. Provides managers with meaningful feedback which helps them improve. Contributes knowledge, resources, byproducts, or other valuable creative works to a community of peers. Able to temporarily fill in for manager when manager is absent. Can architect new internal processes from scratch.
Note: If level designations are unclear based on these descriptions alone, managers may look to the non-management descriptions for additional, general descriptors as needed.
Very little to no management experience. Comfortable overseeing a very small number of projects and personnel. Still learning the basics of management and how to lead a team. Frequent assistance from other managers is needed. Communicates team priorities clearly to subordinates.
Noticeably less oversight and support from other managers is needed for primary responsibilities. Able to oversee some projects from inception to completion without any additional managerial support. Consistently abides by company and department guidelines. Subordinates have more praise than critiques regarding management style. Actively seeks out opportunities to learn and practice managerial skills. Develops a rapport with each subordinate. Conducts a thorough, productive one-on-one with each direct report and communicates issues to department or managing director.
Possesses a thorough understanding of company processes and departmental issues. Is a subject matter expert who can effectively teach others about the inner workings of their team's responsibilities. Breadth of knowledge and capacity are such that assisting other overburdened managers is sometimes possible. Daily and weekly Basecamp checkins are consistently informative. Contributes to the development of departmental processes and guidelines. Comfortable and capable addressing issues involving interpersonal conflict.
Capable of mentoring other less senior managers. Can handle multiple large projects from start to finish without managerial assistance. Able to manage large, diverse groups. Some exhibited management or leadership practices are so effective that they are adopted by other teams. Takes responsibility for initiating job level reviews and other important discussions with direct reports instead of waiting for someone else to do so. Writes detailed and informative monthly team/project reports in Basecamp. Willing to make hard decisions. Authors documentation for departmental processes and procedures. Keeps higher level management informed about team's progress without having to be asked.
Is a standout performer in terms of leadership within our company. Can manage very large teams effectively. When employees are moved to this leader's team, they consistently become measurably more productive and satisfied with their jobs. Regularly lends a hand to other managers without getting overwhelmed or behind on projects. Adept at finding creative ways to motivate and inspire teams to higher levels of achievement. Manages to keep everyone in the company well informed about their team's most important initiatives.
New talent joins our company just to work for them. Leadership methods are innovative and always effective. Should be managing the company's most complicated and challenging teams. Finds creative ways to ensure most, if not all, projects are completed on schedule. Can confidently and professionally navigate even the most difficult personnel situations. Able to contribute leadership, managerial, or domain knowledge to the broader community. Has mastered the art of defining project scopes.