Illustration by Sasha Kolesnik

How can you hang on to your top performers during the great resignation? A new study recommends career transparency as a way to retain employees and communicate opportunities for advancement. 

Inc.com columnist Jessica Stillman writes, “Career transparency is a clear sense among employees of how they can grow in their jobs and how the company will support their efforts to reach their goals.”

Show that you care

Designers can be brutally honest, but when talking to your team about career growth, it needs to be a delicate conversation. You’ll have to acknowledge “we are not where we want to be”, but as a leader, it’s important to show you care. When setting career goals, acknowledge the difficulty in self-improvement, and show your support for someone who is courageous enough to try something new. 

Team Goals: Benchmarking your team’s design maturity 

Designers can help companies envision the future and can have a voice in their own personal career progressions at those companies. 

To address team maturity, It can be helpful to start by understanding your team’s baseline. Compared to other teams, where are you now and where do you want to be in the future? 

DesignerFund has a great free resource to help design teams assess their own development. They’ve documented how high-performing design teams can invest in six areas to increase their maturity.

Once you’ve identified where your team wants to go, you can then set actionable goals for how to get there step by step. 

Your direct report’s goals: Communicating expectations through levels

If you're in a leadership role, Peter Merholz and Kristin Skinner describe levels as a way to articulate and define the differences in seniority on a team. Levels can also be set up cross-functionally by HR to communicate career progression across a company.  “Done right, levels are the scaffolding that helps team members elevate.” Their framework is particularly helpful for larger or rapidly scaling teams who can use levels to have healthy hiring, professional development, and performance review conversations. A levels framework can also help create a sense of fairness across job titles, and can even help with compensation conversations, as levels are often tied to salary.

Me Goals: Connecting your contributions to a bigger cause

Once you’ve helped identify how your team can mature and how your teammate’s individually can level up, design maturity and levels frameworks can also be used to set your personal career goals. If you’re able to identify where you want to go, and how that ties into your team (by helping others move forward), you’ll have a stronger business case to support why your career goals matter to a company.

Being transparent about careers is not easy. It involves showing you care, identifying areas of opportunity, creating systems of fairness and progress, and then planning a supportive approach to realize those goals. Lastly, it gives you an opportunity to get more comfortable with some degree of discomfort and move forward by further investing in your company, team, and personal growth.

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