How much content do we put in our framework?

There are two big mistakes that we see people make when deciding what to measure their teams on.

The first is adding too many expectations. The second is not adding enough detail.

1. Too many expectations

Have a look at your framework (or if you don't have your own yet, check out some on progression.fyi). Go through each expectation you're asking of your team. Now ask yourself the following two questions:

  1. If you didn't achieve this (while achieving other things), would I penalize you for it?
  2. If you excelled at this over the other expectations, would I reward you for it?

If the answer to either of these questions is no, we would argue it doesn't need to be in your framework at all. Remember, your framework shouldn't have to be completely exhaustive – that way madness lies. It should cover the areas that are absolutely vital to be successful within that role.

The danger of not doing this:

The danger of not doing this is that you're encouraging your staff to focus their energies on improving in areas you don't care about. If you end up in a conversation where you both agree that someone in your team has improved, but you don't want to reward them for it, you'll undermine everything else you're working for.

2. Not enough detail

It's really tempting to keep your framework at a really high level. First of all it's easier! Jot down a few lines and you're done.

And to be fair if you're building your framework for a small team where you know their work and their personalities well, it may well be fine. After all, you can manage those expectations and be the barometer. But as soon as you have a larger team or are managing managers, this starts to fall down fairly quickly.

Your content at that point should be able to stand up on its own. It should be able to describe not just a high level expectation 'communicates effectively in group situations' but also what that really means, with concrete examples (for example 'You've effectively led a large cross-functional team meeting on several occasions').

This may feel like a lot of work, but it means that as your team grows you're not having to manually calibrate everyone's understanding of the content. You can evolve examples together, but that new manager can understand the bar on day one and your team members don't have to ask you scary questions to understand the content.

The danger of not doing this:

The danger is one of interpretation. If a report thinks he's smashing it and you think he's not, based on the same content, something bad is going to happen. Equally if your new manager has come from a very different team shape or context and doesn't have a good sense of what your company jargon means, they may misrepresent or badly assess their team's skills.

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