Had a difficult conversation to make with an employee, about not offering him the customary level jump to L3 inspite of 15 months.
As is my practice, i took him for a walk in pleasant winter evening in our sprawling industrial compound. And, as we took circuitous route, so did I take a long winding explanation. One on which i’ve been mulling for 3 months. But one which is based on First Principle I’ve formed now on this.
Our 2019 to 2020 end is transition into two areas of business- service & SaaS product portfolio.
Service, because it earns bread and butter at steady growth and allows us to develop tech stack, process and infrastructure but above all people.
And products, because that is where multiple revenue streams, annuities & J curves are. And fun too.
On service side we have been evolving on 3 fronts – productivity, development stack & processes.
Since essentially service business is fixed margin business that needs constant sales pipeline and no/low delays and failures and as much leverage of quickly reusable code libraries – we’re talking of a well chosen engineering stack and processes.
So what is well chosen about it?
The stack that allows relatively inexperienced devs to be highly effective in development. And agile processes combined with DevOps that take away release and infrastructure away from day to day developer. This should let them focus on delivery on application layer.
This is what I call delivery platform.
But no matter how great the delivery platform is , it is finally the people that have to deliver. And so what kind of people we have and how we sync them with our delivery platform matters a lot.
There are two groups here – the trainees and the pros. L1 to L3 are trainees. L4 to L6 are pros. L7 are commercial people.
What do you need in the trainee group – clarity & agency. Technical skills will take care of themselves as will our delivery platform.
What do we need in pros- potential to be a 10X dev.
That means nobody who doesn’t have the 10X potential steps into L4.
Does that mean we fire the people from L3 onwards- No, instead we offer fixed growth every year with job security. But how does that give one a chance to grow. We handle that with that every person based on project pipeline and requirement gets his personal challenge or sometimes 2–3 a year. Success or failure in that is a binary. And level specific. So an L2 gets his level challenge and L3 too. If you succeed you jump level . If you fail you get normal growth but surely get your challenges whenever chance presents. Untill you succeed or of course keep failing.
But success in challenges apart – agency & clarity is a must.
Because, that is the foundation of 10X potential.
This, coupled with rigidly sticking to a norm – each new hire should be better than last hired at that level or same level guy currently in office. And all freshers must give 6 months to product team before beginning as Devs , should get us into good shape.