"Tech Diversity Lab gave us an off-the-shelf solution that saved months of effort"
Keep it Cleaner (KIC) is a growing wellness organisation using technology to empower people to feel their best selves. They have built a diverse and highly talented technical team, and are proactive in maintaining this culture.
As software engineering leaders, we know that all the big challenges are around people, and not tech. We have struggled, as an industry, with making sure all our people are being fairly evaluated and recognised for their contributions. Promotions and hiring feels like guess work, and improving engagement can be a tough gig for new managers.
We tend to agree that a good foundation for consistency and fairness is an engineering competency or growth framework, but so few of us know where to get started.
KIC has encountered the challenges we all face in building and maintaining high performing technical teams. Head of Engineering, Sampson Oliver, was keen to make sure all the Software Engineers in his team had clear career development plans to support their growth. “Like many of my peers, I was keen to make sure people were being evaluated fairly and recognised for their contributions. After seeking advice and looking at examples, I started to put a framework together in a spreadsheet”, says Sampson. “It was never quite done, which made it hard to drive adoption and get the impact that I wanted out of it”. These competency or levelling frameworks typically take months - or years - to develop in-house, distracting engineering teams from building their core IP.
“Tech Diversity Lab gave us an off-the-shelf solution that saved me months of effort. It was super easy to use. I worked through the skills assessment with each of my team members, and we could instantly see the growth chart highlighting skill gaps and strengths. This led to meaningful career conversations, and gave a structure to our 1-on-1s”. The feedback we collected from his team suggested they loved the clarity, and this helped them understand how else they could be contributing to support and strengthen the team.
The time Sampson spent writing performance reviews went from 90 minutes on average, to 30 minutes per review. “It has made writing performance reviews much quicker and easier, with high quality conversations”.
“The team insights [dashboard] was a bonus. You don’t get team-level data out of spreadsheets! I could see areas to improve the overall skill set of the team (DevOps) and where we are strong (Communication). It also highlighted aspects of the team which I hadn’t considered: like potentially hiring more juniors or mids to give seniors the coaching experience they were looking for.”
The benefits didn’t stop there. “Having consistent language and terminology to discuss growth is half the battle. Often for software engineers this is lacking, so having growth conversations can feel like you are being prescriptive. By providing a consistent language, they're empowered to articulate it first to themselves, then to me. That language enables observability, and observability gives us a pull system rather than a push system. They're in control.”
Thank you to Sampson and the KIC engineering team for being part of our pilot. We are launching our Beta soon. Sign up here to be part of it!