A fascinating and ambitious career path in IT is a dream, which at Sii can really come true very fast. At the company there are many examples of spectacular careers. There are also advanced tools supporting the management of workers – for example the Job Changer, thanks to which they can do a 180 degree turn in their career without changing the employer. About worker’s development, the career paths in Sii, and if are there ends without exits – Joanna Kucharska, CHRO in Sii, tells.
Katarzyna Domanska, CSR Manager at Sii: What exactly does the slogan “a clear career path” mean? And why doesn’t Sii offer such a solution to workers and those seeking employment?
Joanna Kucharska, CHRO at Sii: According to a traditional understanding of this concept, it means that every worker has, from start to finish, a designated plan of conditions for promotion and rising through the company hierarchy. For example: you start from the position of assistant, then, after two years work, you gain a concrete set of skills and training to enable you to reach the position of junior specialist. And so on: you become a specialist, senior specialist, expert… This transition between jobs is laid out precisely in the above mentioned career path.
In Sii, we don’t have any written conditions for promotion in such a fashion. For many reasons. Firstly, because we are developing quickly, we adjust flexibly to the needs of the market and are answerable to the needs of clients. That’s why, we’re not able to tell anyone, that a position, which we have today, will still be there in an unchanged form in a year or two’s time. If we had set up a plan five years ago for a career path according to the traditional understanding of one, we could not have foreseen the majority of the most important positions which exist today. So, it would have just been theory on paper, art for art’s sake, unnecessary bureaucracy.
Secondly, time is not the main criterium for promotion. There are those who stay in the same position for a few years and don’t work towards formal advancement because they’ll get it anyway in a year or two. But there are others who have developed their skills so much that they are ready for promotion after only one year, but who are ‘out of tune’ with the formal career path, since this should only happen after two or three years. In Sii, the best have a big chance of swift promotion, sometimes even in a spectacular fashion.
Thirdly, we place a great deal of emphasis on the initiative of the worker, on being answerable to their needs. And talents. Thanks to this, we have a flexible and practical career path. Advancement in Sii can be in many directions. An assistant salesperson can, for example, be promoted to a sales specialist, but he or she may also redirect their career development into a completely different field, such as marketing or managing IT projects. Foreseeing every possibility in advance is simply … impossible. And surely misses the target.
We emphasise directing a worker’s potential career advancement according to their areas of competence. In practice, we can distinguish three main directions of travel: expertise, management and business. In the first of these, the worker develops his concrete skills: from being a junior engineer/specialist, to senior and then on to expert, for example in specific technology or in accounting area. Choosing to develop in a managerial direction does not depend on anyone’s position – if a worker has the potential to become a leader, then he or she is capable of managing others. This path is often chosen by those possessing technical skills “with a twist”, since it gives them the possibility of working on interesting projects with a great deal of independence (Tomek, Service Delivery Manager in Sii Gdansk, is a good example). This is bound to happen to those on the business path, which offers development on the sales side, where you are first in line to cooperate with the client – and it’s possible to go from there into any branch in Sii.
K.D.: You’ve worked in Sii right from the start and you must have observed how this works in practice on a number of occasions.
J.K.: I’ve observed the growth of the firm from a few workers to over three thousand. I know how practically every position in Sii was created, and how they have changed over the course of time. My position has also evolved a great deal. Up until today, this has appeared to be a fascinating and developing career. For example, the path which Katarzyna Stromecka took, the one who started at reception, and is now Director of Business Processes and Quality.
K.D.: It appears that, in the example of Sii, the growth of the firm is the key to the career path and the prospects of its workers.
J.K.: The needs of clients have always been (and still are) at the center of the activity of the organisation and the motor for internal restructuring. The setting up of new branches, the changing of the structure of Sii, the founding of new departments – are all a consequence of the growth in services and of regeneration, meaning growth according to the needs of clients. And looking back closely, in every year that Sii has been active, it has been something different that has generated the greatest opportunities for advancement for the entire group of workers.
The best example is when the Competency Centers were set up: a few years ago clients needed a more mature, complex service to be provided, which meant that a great many workers would be able to boast of great promotion and career development. Take the example of Marcin Laksander, who began his career as a Software Tester, and now manages the Testing Competency Center in Sii, which was the best Competency Center in Sii in 2016 (to read more).
Job Changer and other tools which inspire growth
K.D.: Up to now we’ve been discussing internal processes that spur the development of a worker, but something else is of unusual importance: the talents of a worker, his or her competences and ambitions. How does Sii assist with regard to these internal factors? How does a manager acquire the tools to motivate and promote his or her workers?
J.K.: Indeed, the opportunities provided by the organisation are just one side of the coin – such opportunities must be seized, the person concerned must be ready for this and have the potential to do it. Sii has no intention of simply gazing at people with potential, who work with us in many different locations. That’s why, above all, our firm has a mission: Power People – the identification and promotion of the best workers. And in order to realise this ambition, we have to support them through a range a fully functioning tools.
Among the tools there is periodic employee assessment, which is the ideal opportunity to identify their strong and weak points, and achieve further development together. There’s also the Top Gun program, to develop the best, in which managers have the duty, twice a year, to show the team “pearls” – those who, not only achieve the best results at work (attain their KPIs and targets), but are also characterised by their passion for the job, showing their engagement in tasks and their potential to grow.
In emphasising the paths which I wish to be followed in Sii, the application Job changer is vital. This is a super tool, for the worker who believes he’s stuck in a rut and doesn’t want to remain in his position any longer. Then, not dependent on his yearly assessment, anyone can display the information that they would like something to change in their work. The application also shows what kind of change would bring satisfaction: location, position, technology, supervisory, team? The application asks for reasons for a change in projects and suggests to the worker what the possibilities are. Thanks to this, we can successfully manage people, we know what to change in the composition of teams so they will work more effectively – obviously within the bounds of the possibilities we have in any concrete situation.
Since June as many as 59 persons applied for a position change through Job Changer. Most of these applications are now being verified. It is worth remembering that formalities connected with the change can last 2-3 months (the worker’s Line Manager or HR supervisor informs about this fact on a regular basis). Some of the persons which have applied since June are already working in new projects – the changes considered the technology, localization and client. I encourage those who thing that career-wise they have met a dead end, to use the Job Changer. It is a great tool supporting career development and it is worth keeping it in mind! I hope that soon a 100% of the applications will end in success for the parties involved: the Sii workers and the clients. Because the Job Changer is a tool stimulating an improvement in cooperation and a chance of reaching new possibilities.
K.D.: Talking about possibilities – what changes in the firm in the short term will affect the prospects of workers and provide them with new opportunities?
J.K.: Business growth will be the main locomotive for this. Sometimes this goes (or so it would seem) in unexpected directions. For example, in Sii we set up our own Legacy Systems Competency Center. We knew that clients had a problem with maintaining systems on old, by now unsupported, technology. Our specialists managed to recruit others who knew how such systems work: a new Competency Center was created, which gave opportunities to technology specialists unable to find them anywhere else.
Delivery Centers (Resource Centers) are constantly expanding – we have more and more virtual teams, which gives people the possibility of promotion or changing projects without having to change the place of residence, something workers really appreciate.
K.D.: Finally and a little philosophically, is dreaming about who you would want to be in the future worthwhile? Do you have to know what you are aiming for and what you are good at?
J.K.: Something like this was published on social media – a scheme which was supposed to take into account my knowledge and skills – it got a lot of attention on the web :) Seriously – there are tests out there which check your competences. But nothing can replace experience. Especially in tests – or should you simply follow your heart…
Of course, you should dream! I know what I’m good at, what I’d like to try and what my dreams are. And then we have the worker ready to take up his or her passion. But if we don’t know, then try, look for your own path. Very often you’ll find out what’s proper, what gives you satisfaction and suits your skills and predispositions. We have a splendid example in Gdansk – not a person who wanted to change his position within an organisation, but rather a whole bunch of people from a different profession, who came to us through the Geek Academy and are now fully satisfied Software Testers.
Also in Sii, we have many opportunities to develop through a range of additional functions: internal trainer, Sii Ambassador, an author-expert in Blogersii, a technical expert during job application interviews… Developing through doing is an important and necessary experience, as a worker need not decide immediately that he wants to change his position, he or she can try out new possibilities, explore new areas, see what helps before making a conscious decision to change.
In IT, there is one more important question, namely what do I see, what’s in it for us, HR or recruitment – and this can be a challenge. It’s often the case that people are not aware what positions are available in IT firms and what the work really demands. What does a Business Analyst in IT actually mean, or a Power User or a Business Owner? What is a PMO and can it be done by someone with a degree in the humanities? Therefore, how can you know what’s good for you, when you don’t even know what position in the IT world would suit you? Here, the Line Manager and HR department can help. Generally, I encourage all to take a close look as the opportunities for development in Sii are truly many. But often they are opened in front of those who are looking for them…
K.D.: Thank you for the conversation.
Article written by: Katarzyna Domańska