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Technology team promotion process

In this document ‘Head of Discipline’ means Head of Technical Operations if you are an ops engineer, or Head of Development if you are a developer.

This process applies to ad-hoc promotions for roles corresponding to SFIA 1-5 only (Lead and below). For gaps we identify in the team, one-off roles, or more senior roles (SFIA 6-7, Head of and above), we use a different process, often involving internal or external recruitment.

The process is based on our progression framework and designed to help make fair decisions about promotions that reduce the impact any one person can have on the decision as much as possible. You will be promoted if a panel agrees that you are currently able or will soon be able to do the activities described by the framework for the role you are moving into.

This process is all about making sure that you’re right for the role and the role is right for you. It’s not perfect, and we may deviate from it if it’s not working out. We will let you know in advance if we think we will need to deviate from the outlined process and explain why. If you have any questions or suggested changes, let us know.

Your line manager’s involvement #

We expect that your line manager will be your strongest advocate in your promotion, and will be part of your promotion panel. If you don’t feel comfortable involving them in your promotion application, you should talk to your Head of Discipline or to someone in the People team.

For applicants #

Summary #

This is a high level summary of the process, which is covered in more detail in sections below:

  1. You express an interest in being promoted, in writing, to your line manager, copying in your Head of and the People team (your line manager can also do this on your behalf if you request) - see Expression of interest
  2. The directors decide if there is scope for accepting promotions of that kind from a business perspective, with no reference to a particular candidate - see Role availability
  3. An application deadline is set by your Head of Discipline
  4. You gather evidence for Progression (supported by your line manager)
  5. You submit the application for review by a promotion panel, by email, to your line manager, copying in your Head of and the People team (your line manager can also do this on your behalf if you request)
  6. Panellists review your pack independently - see Review process
  7. The panel meets to discuss your application and make a clear recommendation on whether to approve it or not
  8. A decision is made by the panel - see Decision & feedback
  9. The decision is shared with you by your Head of Discipline, with feedback, verbally and in writing, to you and your line manager

Eligibility #

Progression is different for everyone. Although anyone can apply for promotion at any time (provided you have completed probation) we wouldn’t anticipate anyone being promoted more than once within a 12 month period.

If you’ve recently applied and been unsuccessful, then you’ll have been given some feedback including a suggested timeline of when you might reapply. 

Expression of interest #

If you are interested in applying for promotion, talk to your line manager and Head of Discipline about it early and often. This gives us time to consider whether it’s possible from a business perspective, how ready we think you are, and how we can support you. 

This might include creating opportunities for you to develop your skills and build up a set of evidence. For example, if we know you want to be a tech lead for the first time, we will look at what upcoming projects might be suitable for you.

At minimum, raise it 3 months prior to when you would want to submit your application.

Role availability #

Promoting people comes with cost and team structure implications, which means it’s not always something we can do. It may not be right for the team at the time.

Generally the Directors and Heads of Discipline will have already determined the team shape for the current financial year as part of the business plan. This is something we’ll share with you near the beginning of the financial year.

Promotions not already included in business planning #

If we haven’t planned for your particular role to change, that doesn’t mean it’s entirely off the cards, but it does mean it’s something that we’ll need to consider more carefully before we make a decision.

At this stage in the process we are considering the business implications of a possible promotion, not whether you are ready to be promoted. 

The decision may be that promotions can be accepted at this time. If so, an upper limit would be shared on the number of promotions, to that role, that can be accommodated. Alternatively it may be that we are unable to accept promotion applications. In this scenario we would explain why and try to set expectations around when that decision may change in the future.

The Head of Discipline will aim to let you know their decision within 4 weeks of the request being raised.

Your Head of Discipline will then set a deadline for applications to be submitted by, between 2 weeks and 8 weeks later to give you time to prepare.

If the decision is that promotions are possible, but there is only one position available, then your Head of Discipline will inform anyone else eligible for a promotion to the same role and invite them to apply for the position if they’d like to. In this situation, the person with the highest scoring passing application would be promoted (in the unlikely event of a tie, the promotion will go to the person who applied first). Any unsuccessful passing applications will be automatically promoted when positions become available.

Applying for promotion #

To apply for a promotion, you should have completed at least two full Progression check-ins over a six month period at the level you want to be promoted into. A covering letter in a Google Doc can also be submitted to provide a narrative to accompany Progression.

Your check-ins should include evidence to demonstrate how you would meet the expectations of the role you would be promoted into. Good evidence for this might include:

At least one check-in should also include a round of feedback from your line manager, and from the people you work with most closely.

Make sure you provide information about all of the needs of the level and don’t leave any gaps. It’s ok to acknowledge that you don’t have direct experience of something in the framework. Panellists’ time is limited, so it’s better to do that than have the panel spend time working out if you do or not and run out of time to properly consider your strengths.

If you are reading this thinking about a future promotion, you might want to consider keeping a brag document or using the “Wins” feature of Progression to keep track of evidence you might want to use in the future.

In order to be considered for promotion, then in your most recent Progression check-in you should be ‘meeting’ or ‘exceeding’ most of the skills in the Progression framework at the level you want to be promoted into. If you are at ‘working towards’ for one or more skills, there should be a clear explanation of why the standard has not yet been met, and details of a clear path to meeting the standard in the first three months of moving into the new role. The aim is not to prevent someone being considered who is not yet meeting all the criteria, as long as they are able to show how they would meet them within a set timeframe.

If you have any personal circumstances that you feel should be considered by the promotion panel, then you should talk to the People team, who will advise the panel on reasonable adjustments. Personal circumstances could include anyone with a disability or a physical or mental health condition, or anything at all that you feel affects your ability to work.

Before submitting an application, you will be offered the opportunity to meet with your Head of Discipline and your line manager to discuss your application and the process.

Submitting the application #

When you’ve done everything above, let your line manager and Head of Discipline know by email, copying in the People team, or ask your line manager to do this, and we’ll arrange the review panel. 

The application should include a link to the Progression check-in, and a PDF download of the application attached to the email.

Promotion panel #

While you create your promotion pack, your Head of Discipline decides on an appropriate panel to review your application.

A panel of three or four is made up of:

The panel will be as diverse as possible to get a mix of different perspectives and to reflect the makeup of the wider tech team. The specific makeup of the panel depends on things like people’s availability, the level of the role of the promotion, and any specific needs you have raised during the process.

Panels evaluate applications based on the same Progression criteria for all applications for the same role, and will take advice from the People team on any reasonable adjustments required to ensure objectivity. The People team are also available to help take minutes and advise if necessary.

The names of the panel will be shared with you in advance. The panel should not include anyone with a conflict of interest. If this is unavoidable, then the People team should be involved.

Your promotion panel should meet between 1 and 2 weeks after the application deadline to be able to give you a timely decision and response while also considering your application properly.

Review process #

The panel will review the Progression check-ins and any accompanying docs. The review will focus on:

General professionalism covers things that are standard workplace expectations like ‘be respectful to your colleagues’, ‘turn up on time to meetings’ etc. but which aren’t explicitly written in the framework or Playbook (and would be hard to list in full). These and the dxw values are things you are assumed to be doing/following, unless there is clear evidence that you’re not. You are not expected to provide evidence about them as part of your promotion application.

Independent review #

Each panellist will individually review the application without conferring with each other and score against each of the criteria in the progression framework. They use a scale of 1 to 3 where:

Scoring 1 on any criterion, or 2 on more than two criteria would almost certainly mean the promotion would not be made.

Each score given must be accompanied by a few lines of reasoning. This helps ensure that the scores can be reviewed for objectivity.

A panel member can choose to abstain from scoring a specific criteria if they believe they are unable to evaluate it due to a lack of their own expertise.

Panellists should set aside 2 hours to score each application they are reviewing.

Joint review #

The full panel will meet to discuss the application between 1 and 2 weeks after the application deadline. The purpose of the meeting is for the panel to make a decision  on whether or not to accept your application. They may also revise their scores based on the discussion.

During the meeting, one of the panellists will document the discussion and any revised scores.

If there is sufficient evidence, the panel may make a decision straight away. If not, the panel will go back to you, your line manager, and any other relevant people for more information and feedback before making a final decision.

Panellists should set aside 1 hour to conduct a joint review.

Decision & feedback #

The panel will make a decision to either promote or not. In either case they will provide written feedback about where the application met or didn’t meet the Progression criteria.  The average of all of your scores for each criteria are shared with you as part of your feedback, but not individual scores or any reasoning verbatim.

If they choose not to promote, your Head of Discipline will share verbal and written feedback about why, delivered to you and your line manager, and a suggested timeline for when you might reapply. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback on the outcome.

Appeals #

If you believe you have not been treated fairly through this process, you can appeal the decision. To appeal a decision, you should raise it in writing to the Director of Technology (or another Director if the Director of Technology was on the panel), copying in a member of the People team. They will then conduct an investigation into the review process for your application and will organise a meeting with you to discuss their findings. You may bring a colleague or a trade union representative with you to that meeting. After the meeting, the Director will make a final decision about any further actions and share it with you in writing.

For panellists #

Expectations of panellists #

As a panellist, you are taking on a lot of responsibility. Your actions and decisions have a material impact on the applicant you are evaluating, and have potentially far reaching consequences.

This process asks two things of you:

You should make sure that time is protected and is your highest priority, so you give the application full attention and consideration.

You should inform the panel organiser if:

Last updated: 30 October 2023 (history)