Looking to introduce a career framework within your organisation but don’t know where to start?
We’ve been there, done that. We understand the mountain it feels like you have to climb.
But you don’t have to do it alone.
Now that you have our free and ready-to-use career framework template, we’re going to cover the purpose of the framework and show you how to launch it successfully within your business.
The Purpose of a Career Framework
A career framework is a tool designed to improve hiring, provide support to people managers and build the team you need to be successful.
It does all that by helping you lay the foundation for almost every step of the employee journey - including:
🚀 Establishing a high-performance culture: It provides clear expectations to your people to maximise performance in their current role, along with clarity of expectations at the next level so they can stretch and lean into it. This also informs reward cycles.
💸 Creating transparent salary bands and growth paths: Transparent career framework levels provide an overview of career opportunities from within your business, surfacing promotion opportunities, enabling internal mobility, and supporting succession planning.
🗒️Supports workforce planning and recruitment: It helps you to break down a role, focus the interview process, provide salary benchmarks and write better job adverts.
📈Enables structured onboarding: The framework provides role clarity to new joiners from day 1 and outlines what is expected. It helps People teams and managers set probation expectations and measure performance.
But these outcomes only come from a career framework if you take the time to personalise it to your business.
Personalising It to Your Context: Adapting the Career Levels
Career frameworks are not one size fits all. You’ll need to spend time looking at this template from the context of the business that you work in and decide on the number of levels you’ll need.
For example, Lauren Gomes, our Head of People, started this framework by taking inspiration from and adapting the work of JooBee Yeow, via Learngility. She knew that both the size and context of the framework had to change to suit our business. She decided to distil Learngility’s framework down, to reflect our size and shifted the language so it was more palatable for our people.
The Learngility framework has levels 1a through to 9b - this is designed for companies much larger than ours. We opted for six levels which broadly fit the roles we have right now and those we might add in the future. If we grew significantly, we would then split each level into ‘A’ and ‘B’ versions.
But Not Everything About the Framework Needs to Change...
We believe that the seven core capabilities within the framework are fundamental to any business.
They’re the industry standard, informing how job architecture is created across the world thanks to the expert research of Mercer, Hays, Radford, and Towers Watson. Even large businesses don't need more than seven capabilities. So there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Core capabilities indicate the change needed at each phase (or level) of development across all our roles. They even help us benchmark salaries across Learnerbly.
Get Stakeholder Buy-In: Inspire Them with the Possibilities
With your framework’s role levels adjusted and your capabilities intact, it’s now time to get the leadership team as excited about the framework as you are. Because without their buy-in you may never be able to launch the framework or see the impact you know it can have on the performance of your people.
To do this, you’ll need to find an executive sponsor and pitch the framework to your stakeholders using the language that will resonate most.
An executive sponsor is someone on the Exec team to champion the implementation.
Preparing Your Pitch for the Leadership Team
With your sponsor on board, you can focus on winning the rest of the Leadership team over with a pitch. You will need to show them what’s possible for the business when the career framework is in place (you can access the presentation Lauren used as a free resource, including presenter notes, here).
As well as setting the context, you need to include content on the value of a career framework, why it’s useful and what it can do for your organisation.
Don't bog the presentation down with what a career framework is and how you'll do it. Your leadership team wants to hear the why. Frame the pitch on what’s in it for them, and how it helps them to lead and manage their teams more effectively.
Bring your vision to life with examples and mock-ups, so your leaders can visualise the reality you're trying to build. If you do it well, they won’t be able to unsee it and will be incredibly excited for it to become reality.
Remember, it’ll probably take more than one pitch, and you may need multiple conversations with your Leadership team so they fully understand the concept. Leverage the support of your executive sponsor throughout the process and remember, a career framework is a technical People concept, they won't know it as well as you do!
Prepare to Launch: Cross Your T’s and Dot Your I’s
With buy-in secured, the next step is to immediately announce the framework launch to your people. Right?
You can’t run before you walk. Preparation is key to ensure a smooth launch, high engagement and successful embedding of the project.
Building Out Your Knowledge Hub
Now you’ve created your version of the framework, you’ll need to build a comprehensive career framework knowledge hub and decide where it will live.
We keep it in our Notion because we use that tool as the single source of truth for how we work and it’s where we document important information. You should choose whatever space works best for your business.
Most of Lauren’s time on this project went to building the resources within this hub so that our people understood the work better.
You can access our hub as a free resource here.
The pages within the hub were built to:
- Pre-empt any questions our people may have
- Cover definitions of key terms for clarity and alignment (e.g. Individual Contributor vs Manager and Capability Definitions)
- Provide an in-depth overview of the nuts and bolts of how the career framework works (e.g. Career Framework overview and Role Skeleton)
The resources were written as if someone had just joined Learnerbly because we needed it to be accessible to current and future employees whether they were picking it up for the first time or the millionth.
Taking Part in a Levelling Exercise
In your People role, you should have an understanding of what roles currently exist in your organisation and be able to align them to where you think they sit on your career framework. To get the levelling process started, you should go ahead and place each employee where you think they fit.
Lauren’s advice is to just give the exercise a go and whip it up quickly on a spreadsheet, not spending too much time on it.
The next step is to sit down with each Exec member and Head of Department. You should get them to do the same exercise first (without showing them yours!), then compare the results and have a conversation about why the employee was placed there.
During the levelling conversations at Learnerbly, we had some people whose job title didn’t match their capabilities. For example, a person whose title was at level 4, but whose performance was at level 2.
In those few examples, we decided to level the person based on performance rather than their job title.
Preparing Your People Managers
Before going live with the framework, prepare your people managers. They’ll need to be able to confidently answer any questions their team may have after launch.
Lauren took our managers through the same presentation as the Leadership team and made space for questions that she was prepared to answer. Their questions helped us to create an FAQ help page for managers.
The managers can also provide you with feedback and ask questions you didn’t anticipate. This is important so you can iterate your framework and knowledge hub to cover all bases before going live.
You’ll also need to train your people managers on how to have ‘starting point conversations’.
These are conversations they’ll have with each team member to talk about their starting point on the career framework. A starting point is a reflection of the scope of their current role expectations.
We built guidance on a Notion page, providing our people managers with a structure they could use to navigate their starting point conversations with their team member(s). This structure consists of:
We also included a script of roleplay to help bring the structure to life and built a comprehensive FAQ to support our managers to answer questions that might be on the minds of their team members.
Formulating Your Approach to Avoid Change Fatigue
Once everything has been prepped for the project launch, you’ll need to decide on a launch date.
It’s important to consider the effect the launch could have on employee experience. Doing so will help you avoid apathy, resistance and/or lack of engagement with your career framework.
When deciding on the date, consult with your leadership team and people manager population to sync on other initiatives happening across the business.
To aid the success of your launch, you need to link your narrative to the WHY.
A lot of people get excited about a career framework because they see it as the pathway to growth and progression - but that was our secondary motivator. Performance and clarity about what's expected framed our approach.
Also, think about how your employees will experience the changes you’ll be making. Have you prepared enough supporting materials and processes to help them manage the change?
Research has shown that when trying to overcome change fatigue, trust and team cohesion are two factors that make managing change within your business easier.
Focusing on the employee experience when introducing something new can help reduce the risk of change fatigue. This means early and continuous communication.
Going Live: Embedding for Success
Congratulations, you’ve made it through the most time-consuming part of the project: personalising and preparing to launch your career framework.
Now it’s time for the fun part - going live and showcasing your exciting new initiative to your people!
Launching a Show and Tell Session
At Learnerbly, we decided to announce the career framework through a show-and-tell session (you can access the presentation we built as a free resource, including presenter notes, here).
This show and tell session covered:
- Context of why the career framework is needed
- What a career framework is
- The theory and research behind the framework
- How our framework is built
- Showing what the framework looks like
- Next steps and how the framework links to our larger initiative around performance
And of course, we left plenty of time for questions from our people.
Running Starting Point Conversations
Now that your people understand the framework and what purpose it serves you can release your comprehensive knowledge hub and any relevant content that exists around the career framework.
Let everyone digest the content over a few days. They can read and reflect on where they think their role sits in the framework and ask any questions that come up.
Your people managers should then run starting point conversations with all of their reports, following the training they’ve been given during the preparation phase. You should encourage them to share their experiences and feedback with you.
Embedding the Career Framework
Going forward, your career framework should be fully embedded throughout almost every step of your day-to-day employee journey, to maximise its positive impact on your business.
It should be referred to when setting expectations during performance conversations, discussing growth opportunities, and supporting hiring managers during recruitment, amongst many other things.
Let’s recap quickly all the things we’ve said that need to follow after you’ve downloaded the career framework template:
- Personalise the career framework template to fit your business context
- Recruit an executive sponsor, and inspire your stakeholders to get buy-in
- Prepare and plan the launch of your career framework
- Go live and embed your career framework
This probably sounds like a lot of work, and it's definitely no small undertaking - but it’s worth it and we hope that the resources we shared help relieve some of the burdens.
Once you’ve taken all the steps above and officially launched your career framework, you'll want to embed your framework to drive performance.
Next you should have a read of our article on equipping your people managers with the support and resources they need to drive performance -- find it here.