If you have a talented, ambitious team like Button, your employees will want growth opportunities. They crave feedback, exploration of new technologies and ideas, and want to rise quickly with a clear, self-driven path to promotion. Makes sense, right?
According to the Culture Amp Employee Engagement Benchmarking Report, “Learning and Development opportunities remain a high priority for employees and providing an environment where people can develop their skills..[and] manage expectations of job scopes can help increase employee satisfaction in these areas.” While this is an agreeable statement, it is often a neglected one. Designing effective and impactful growth programming for employees is hard, but a problem worth solving as it is one of the many reasons why the average tenure at the 10 biggest tech companies is under 2 years.
One of the underlying issues in tackling this challenge is that growth and development is a very personal journey. For example, you may join a company earlier in your career and you’re likely to be focused on building the knowledge, skills, and experience needed to master your domain — whether that’s learning the best practices for designing software or learning the best way to keep a customer engaged. Or you may join as a senior leader inspiring vision and ownership for the tools, programs, and products for which your team builds and delivers. Therefore, a one-size-fits-all program will not work.
Companies need to acknowledge that every path is important and take steps to support and design a menu of options rooted in values, cultural-isms, data, and feedback for employees to choose from.
Growth Paths at Button
Here at Button, we have a few paths you can take.
Master Your Craft
Many of us want to build better technologies, systems, tools, programs, and/or processes within our craft or field. As an individual contributor, you can pursue leadership, mastery, and growth within your role. You have a seat at the table and influence projects large and small by playing an active role in both design and execution. Furthermore, you can always broaden your scope and go deeper — your craft is yours to master.
Lead and Manage the Growth of Teams
As our team expands, some of us will be interested in operational growth, hiring, and team organization. We will need strong people managers to empower others, multiply the results of our teams, and help individuals advance in their own personal career goals. Additionally, we require our managers to be great coaches — fostering an environment of continuous learning, feedback, and accountability.
Create or Explore a New Path
One of the many perks of joining a startup is the opportunity to take on new responsibilities. As entrepreneurs, we give everyone permission, flexibility and the freedom to create and explore new roles that support overall business objectives. We encourage everyone to speak up, seek out, and seize opportunities that will help drive the business forward. You can read more about how one of our engineers sought out the creation of a new team at Button here.
Growth starts day one…
Now that we’ve taken the ambiguity out of what is possible, let’s move on to the other programs and initiatives we’ve designed to provide our team with coaching & feedback, skill development & advancement, and exposure to a diversity of ideas and perspectives.
The Growth Survey
Our commitment to employee growth and development shows up on an employee’s first day where you are asked to fill out the Button Growth Survey. The survey has two parts: the first part is aimed at understanding what motivates you and how you prefer to communicate; the second part addresses where and how you would like to see yourself develop during your time at Button. The overarching goal of this tool is to foster an open dialogue, build a strong relationship with your manager, and enable us to build a career path unique to your individual needs.
The Button Onboarding Guide
During your first-week onboarding program, you review your personalized 30, 60, 90 Day Plan with your manager. This plan sets expectations around performance, provides you with direction and ownership, and serves as a framework to “check in” and see how things are progressing as you learn more about your role, responsibilities, team, and the company. The feedback on our onboarding program speaks for itself — in 2018, we achieved a near-perfect onboarding score of 4.8/5.0 from our new hires!
During and after the 90-day onboarding period, our employees can also participate in a variety of growth programs. Here are a few we’re experimenting with today:
Coaching & Feedback
Speaking Boldly & Honestly
We care deeply about growing and improving both as individuals and as a team. One of the easiest ways to do this is by practicing how to give and receive honest feedback. Here at Button, we follow the philosophy of Radical Candor — providing useful, specific feedback that comes from an authentic place of care. For example, at a company, team, and individual level we ‘Retro’ — reflecting on our goals, projects, outcomes, and impact. We celebrate what we did well, acknowledge what didn’t go well, and develop solutions for how we can improve going forward. On the flip side, we also reflect and recognize individuals for going above and beyond through Nemo-nations and Excellence Awards.
Every six months, we participate in Kaizen Conversations. The Japanese word ‘Kaizen’ translates to ‘change for the better.’ It is a time for every individual to reflect on their impact, work product, accomplishments, and growth over the past six months (complete with feedback from peers and direct reports) as well as set goals with their manager around personal development and career aspirations.
Executive Coach in Residence
Many companies will provide their managers and executives with 1:1 coaching. We wanted to expand that opportunity across the entire organization. In 2018, we launched a beta coaching program offering everyone on the team 1:1 sessions with our executive leadership coach, Julia Mallory to help navigate career ambitions and to provide personalized tools, frameworks, and resources for individual growth. It has become a highly sought-after program so we’ll be dedicating 3 days a month to 1:1 coaching across every role and team in 2019.
The Growth Ladder
In 2018, we introduced The Growth Ladder as Button’s primary tool for fostering and managing employee development. The Growth Ladder defines the skills and responsibilities expected at each level, irrespective of team, role, or function. It helps us provide clarity and a clear path to promotions, management transitions, and/or new roles within the company.
Skill Development & Advancement
Button’s commitment to learning and development means employees get regular access to training and workshops. Some of our most popular workshops include Button Team Builder (Interview) Training, Interaction & Communication Styles, Presentations & Storytelling, Contextual Leadership, and Leadership & Communication.
Button encourages employees to continually enhance their knowledge and experience. In support of this, Button will financially support employees with materials (books, magazines, online courses) and programs (classes, conferences, etc.) that you believe will help you grow professionally.
Exposure to New Ideas & Perspectives
“Nourish” is a speaker series that aims to promote and nourish the growth of our employees. Every 6–8 weeks, Button hosts speakers from tech, non-profit, and other related industries to address topics tied to our mission, our strategy, and our nearer-term business objectives. The aim is to expose the team to new ideas and fresh perspectives, and to facilitate learning and growth.
Each week, Buttonians learn from each other over a taco lunch. Anyone can volunteer to give a talk on a topic of their choosing. Some past favorites include Functional Programming, Tea Time in the UK, Succulent Plant Care, Sales Pitches, and Working on a Farm!
Like every new or existing product, system, program, or process we build, we expect to iterate over time to better serve and support our most valuable resource — our people!
If you’d like to work at a startup that supports and encourages continuous growth, check out our open roles–Button is hiring!