Implementing Career Architecture to Help Your People Succeed

Imagine an employee in your team who thrives on pressure, delivers before deadlines, and does such a high-quality job that clients love them. How would you reward their exemplary performance?

Rewarding them with cash, recognizing them in an elaborate ceremony, or promoting them to the next level are some of the options on the table.

But have you considered that they may not want that promotion? What if they prefer to grow into a subject matter champion that others look up to? Or if they want to transition their career to a completely different department or role?

If you don’t offer them these options, they are likely to get frustrated and leave. It might sound odd to hear that someone does not want to grow into a managerial career, but career development is increasingly changing shape into careers across the organization.

That is why instead of traditional career ‘ladders’, a career matrix or architecture is more likely to be meaningful and relevant to your people. Career architecture offers twofold benefits, helping you find skilled talent from within the company and keeping your people engaged and motivated. Here are the steps to take to create a career architecture:

  1. Assessing the current state: Evaluate the current career landscape by looking at existing career development practices, identifying gaps, understanding employee aspirations, and aligning with your company’s goals. Ensure that you listen to people and their managers to understand what development means to them and how the architecture can factor in those needs.
  2. Identifying the core competencies: A core competency model can be created based on insights from a free tool such as the TMA library to start the journey towards career architecture. Alternatively, you can also design competencies in collaboration with your leadership team. The core competencies can be behavioral as well as technical to obtain a complete picture of what people need to grow into various careers.
  3. Defining the career framework: Map out career paths, levels, and roles within the company, considering different job families and growth opportunities. If you have job levels clearly defined, you can do this quickly. If not, invest in a job evaluation exercise to define the job levels and get a more accurate picture of what careers in your company look like.
  4. Establishing the guidelines and infrastructure: Implement relevant guidelines to help people and people managers understand the process and outcomes. Design the policy framework that helps in a consistent application of the career architecture across your company.
  5. Assessing and coaching people: Using a tool like the TMA Method, evaluate the competencies of your people against the roles in their career path. Use the data collected to coach them for better performance and to develop competencies that help them transition into meaningful career paths.

In addition, keep your architecture flexible to meet changes in the industry and the market you operate in to keep it relevant.


Career architecture can improve motivation, engagement, and retention, leading to an elevated workforce experience (Wx). 

Talk to us about helping your people thrive through career architecture, contact us at [email protected].

About the Author

Sumit Singla
Founder of eleventHR Consulting.
Sumit has been working in HR & HR consulting roles for 16+ years across sectors and verticals and specializes in organization design, wellbeing, storytelling & design thinking, and performance management. In his career with consulting firms such as Aon, Deloitte, and Accenture, he has successfully led programs aimed at total HR transformation for clients. Recently, as Associate Director for India Consulting at Deloitte, he worked with clients on cultural transformation and HR process and policy design. He also organized and spoke at conferences and events about a variety of topics relevant to HR today. Now self-employed, he works with clients across the globe on a variety of HR solution areas.
Howard Nizewitz 
Howard’s extensive expertise in compensation management comes with a 25-year track record of implementing strategic and successful compensation programs in the financial services and technology industries with a global and regional focus. His tenure includes positions at Barclays, Citigroup, and JPMorgan. Other areas of expertise include HR consulting, Deferred compensation, incentive plan design, and talent management. If you want to learn more, please contact Howard at [email protected] or schedule a free consultation on the website. 
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