Ask the Experts: UX Career Growth Models

12 Jan 2022 4:18 PM | Jacob Geib-Rosch

Ask The Experts is a series in which we ask design leaders from our community common questions from UX professionals or those seeking a career in UX. This month we're covering how UX research fits in at local organizations. 

As UX has matured as a profession, more companies have implemented career growth models for their UX professionals in order to encourage them to grow their career at those companies. These are often referred to as career tracks, but can be anything that provides specific guidance to professionals looking for something concrete that they know the organization will use to gauge their performance for the consideration of promotions and raises.

Does your company have any formal career tracks or guidance it provides? If so, what does that look like? How do you help your UX professionals know their on the right track in your organization?

Yes, we do have career paths and standardized levels within each. Each level contains information such as key responsibilities, expectations, and skills/experiences, complexity, and expected impact at that level. UX Design has its own career path, its associated levels, and their descriptions. Individual contributors and managers have separate tracks as well. The company has programs to help (especially new) employees to navigate the career paths and make sure that they understand different job families in the company and that they assume the most fitting role as they grow professionally.

Design Managers have the main responsibility of providing timely feedback of job performance, and identifying employees’ strengths, interests, growth areas, etc. Design Managers set up ongoing weekly or bi-weekly meetings with their Designers to ensure that discussions happen, and issues are addressed in a timely fashion. More formal quarterly meetings for setting goals, check-ins and reflections are separately scheduled so that employees and their managers have dedicated time to discuss performance, career levels, and growth opportunities. The conversations around promotions and what are expected of the employees can happen either in the ongoing meetings or the quarterly meetings.  The general principle is that the employee should already be performing at the next level well enough before promotion is made to that level, so that employees can transition into the new level with confidence and a higher degree of success. Design Managers take time to explore and discuss the employees’ interests, strengths, and passion, and try to match that with the available projects so that Designers can shine and maximize impact.

Huifang Wang, Senior Manager of User Experience Design 

Career growth at Red Hat is at the very center of our culture and values. As life-long learners, associates are encouraged to grow in their careers and influence by taking on new challenges, enrolling in Red Hat University and LinkedIn Learning courses, expanding their skill sets, and accessing Red Hat's global tuition reimbursement program. As a part of Products and Technology (PNT) at Red Hat, UXD associates follow the Engineering Promotion Framework (EPIC) career growth model created and managed internally by a broad group of associates from across PNT.

The EPIC model includes document templates, timelines, and processes for promotion across all job levels, for both individual contributor and manager tracks. Competencies describe expected contributions at each level for such things as Business Impact, Scope of Work, Planning and Execution, and so on. Conversation helpers are document templates that lay out the expectations of a current role and the next level - allowing associates and their managers to identify gaps and steps needed to achieve a promotion. The process is created with fairness and equity in mind and provides a solid foundation for career progression.

Amy Glass Manager, User Experience Design

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