Career growth at Obvious — adopting a multi-faceted system

  • Monica Pillai
2 minute read
Career growth Mobile

Over the last year, we’ve changed our career growth evaluation process and transitioned from a “levels system” to a more comprehensive multifaceted system.

While this transition wasn’t smooth, it was more than worth it. We learnt to evaluate each other thoughtfully, and acknowledge the role a team can play in the overall development of an individual.

Here’s a quick overview of why we made this change, what we created and how we implement it:

Why

We strongly believe that people produce great work when they are at their natural best. Forcefully reducing them to experts vs generalists, or individual contributors vs managers, hampers their growth instead of boosting it.

At Obvious, we look for multi-faceted, T-shaped individuals, who bring a lot to the table other than just their craft. To nurture and accelerate the growth of such people, over the years we’ve experimented with several different frameworks. We’ve finally resolved to stick to the one that follows!

What

The new framework is divided into 3 parts — creating, executing and supporting — and each of these has 3 to 4 different skills. Each skill is further divided into 5 different milestones. As you go deeper, or take on more responsibilities, you cross a milestone.

In general, you must have demonstrated the 5Cs, which are: Conscious, Comfortable, Continuous, Consistent Competency. They're defined as follows:

  • Conscious: having devoted intentional effort to this endeavour
  • Comfortable: without being overly stretched
  • Continuous: for a reasonable period of time
  • Consistent: reliably and evenly
  • Competency: meeting the criteria.

You may also want to read: Our design growth and engineering growth frameworks

How

A 360° process

Evaluations are done in a comprehensive and transparent manner, facilitated by the manager.

  1. Each person self-evaluates themselves
  2. Everyone in a project team evaluates each other
    • To prevent bias, no one should be able to see someone else’s evaluation of a person!
  3. Each individual is evaluated by their manager
  4. Managers collate all the evaluations and consolidate them

The consolidated feedback is shared by the manager in a 1:1 conversation with each individual.

Assessment Cycles

We run formal assessments (using our growth frameworks as a basis) twice a year, once in February, and the next in August. Everyone at the organisation has to receive a completed assessment by the 1st of March, and the 1st of September respectively. If the assessment leads to a level change, then the impact of that level change (such as compensation) will take effect from the 1st of April or the 1st of October.

Guidelines for Feedback

To ensure a smooth evaluation process for every individual, we have a few guidelines we like to peek at once in a while. Here are a handful of them:

  • Specific examples everywhere are important! Use the situation-behaviour-impact framework to make your case.
  • To ensure that someone definitely lies on a specific milestone, remember the 5Cs.
  • In case you don’t have sufficient information about a facet, please talk to the person and your manager. A year is a long period of time, and it is good to get clarification in case you think you’re forgetting something.
  • Feedback provided in an evaluation cannot come as a surprise to the person. Such a data point will be disregarded. All comments — positive and negative — should be a summary of the feedback provided through the course of day to day work.

We're always on the lookout for people who want to work in a team that aims to grow together. If that sounds like you, take a gander around our hiring page to see if any roles catch your eye!