We help organisations create a transparent and consistent approach to career progression and compensation
🧗♂️ The challenge
Career progression and compensation is too often shrouded in mystery. A black box of subjective promotion decisions and one off salary calculations which leads to a lack of confidence with both managers and employees.
“People don’t see a path to grow in our organisation which is leading to retention issues”
“Employees want to understand the skills and behaviours they need in order to drive their development”
“Managers need support in helping guide career development conversations”
”We’re promoting our best specialists into management positions but not showing them what is expected of the role”
“We have 3 career progression frameworks which don’t align”
“We’re starting to hire in new locations and don’t know what to pay”
“We want to understand whether we’re paying people fairly”
“We want to show our salary bands on job adverts”
“The finance team need to accurately forecast the cost our future hires”
“We don’t know which data salary provider to choose”
“What should I being paying executives?”
🎯 The solution
I'm Alistair, and I’ve developed a playbook that’s helped over 50 rapidly growing startups and scale ups around the world define their approach to career progression and compensation.
🆘 I help companies in the following ways
🕵️♀️ The details
‘Gathering insights to ensure we build to meet you needs now and as you scale’
- A download to help understand the organisational structure, values, terminologies etc.
- A review of any content that has been put together to date on progression and career development.
- Survey and/or group interviews with a cross section of the team to investigate what works and what doesn't, their previous experience of career progression and key challenges they for-see
- Run a 1hr session to present back findings from the discovery work and discuss next steps for Phase 2.
’Getting your entire team speaking the same language’
When introducing levels into any organisation, we recommend taking a 3 step approach.
- This is your foundational layer, where you establish the infrastructure consisting of:
This may also sometimes be referred to as a ‘career pathway’, ‘career map’ or ‘career ladder’ and in essence enables us to form a highly structured view of your organisation and each job family that operates within it.
- Once we’ve established the infrastructure, we’ll move on to defining the competencies and expectations for each level. We’ll use roles agnostic criteria which can be applied across all roles.
- We don’t build from scratch
- We’ll build using a baseline framework (see here for some great open-source frameworks) that has been tried and tested.
- For comp projects we tend to use this one from Pave. This is a globally recognised levelling framework and allows you to then map objectively back to a whole host of salary benchmarking providers.
- We’ll run focus groups to get buy in across the organisation
- 'If it's going to be used by the team, it needs to be built by the team.'
- We’ll walk you through how to use focus groups to tweak the framework and align it to your organisation.
- Once we have established the companywide progression framework and level descriptions, we can create a set of functional skills for each department and craft e.g. Quality Assurance Engineer, Customer Success Manager.
- These craft skills identify the precise skills and knowledge required for each job.
- We recommend using the companywide framework for at least 2 quarters and collecting feedback on it before embarking on building out craft specific frameworks.
- As with the companywide framework, we recommend using a baseline framework to start from. Great examples of these include:
- The duration and costs for these craft specific frameworks can vary depending on the complexity of the craft. If there is a baseline framework to build from, then the job is easier that starting from scratch.
- Once we have a levelling framework in place, we can level all the roles in the organisation against it. This is the part of the project which will take some time and involvement from the managers.
- We’ll work together to figure out what the best levelling process is for your organisation based on size and time commitments.
- It will typically look like something below and once we have finalised the what steps we will take in regards to levelling, we can the train managers on the process.
Levelling for the first time?
- At this point in time we propose not to level someone based on their performance. You should be levelling them based on the role they were hired to do.
- The objective is to get the org into a consistent format and show people what is expected of them in their role.
- From this foundational work, you can then move on to measuring someones performance in the future i.e. the extent to which they are meeting the expectations of their current role over time.
’Ensuring pay is fair and transparent’
In any salary benchmarking exercise you need to map employees to the right benchmarks in an objective manner. We use a ‘common language’ and assign them the following pieces of information below. This is a globally recognised method of salary benchmarking, so we’re not reinventing the wheel here.
- Job Family - this is the function a role is a part of, often discernible by the department or team this role falls in at your company.
- Track - Are they managing people or processes?
- Level - this is how senior / experienced the person is and the scope of responsibility that their role covers - this where the progression and levelling framework fits in.
- Sub-level - how established in their level are they.
- Location - where in the world are they performing their work.
Why should I go through this process?
- Accurately mapping the levels and job families within your organisation is how we’re able to match your roles back to industry salary benchmarking data.
- Getting this right is the difference between comparing apples to apples vs. apples to oranges, so is very important.
- We’ll walk you through a number of external salary benchmarking sources which will drive the compensation calculator. We regularly help clients combine multiple external sources to create a set of benchmarks that works them. There is no silver bullet when it comes to external market data.
- Once you’ve selected a provider, we’ll help you make sense of the data. Holes in the data? Data not progressing? We’ve built linear regression models into our work that we can apply over large data sets so we make sense of it.
- Here are some of the providers we have worked with in the past.
- Option Impact
- We’ll take you through the common pitfalls of salary benchmarking (not enough data points, pay not progressing) and options to solving these.
- We'll give you a google spreadsheet (compensation and levelling calculator) to clearly define pay by level for each role and to benchmark employees at scale. You will own this spreadsheet after the engagement and can use it on an ongoing basis.
- It contains a compensation formula that is flexible enough to adjust for factors like experience and location, without the need to research and look up salaries online each time a new team member arrives or a pay increase request is made.
- We will be able to identify which percentiles you are currently paying in and how competitive you are against the market.
- The calculator will give you the ability to understand the delta between your current percentile vs your desired percentile and set team specific strategies and the budget the costs to get there.
- Hint: you don’t have to pay in the 50th percentile for every team!
- You can also input your open roles and accurately budget for future headcount costs.
- We can also deep dive into the following areas on equity. Please speak to Alistair for specific details the following:
- Employee scheme audit
- New hires granting system
- Refresher grant system
- Budget and scenario modeling
- Employee education
‘Communicating how it all works’
- Before training the managers and launching the framework, we’ll help you build the Employee guide to progression.
- This document will provide information on how to use the career progression framework and what processes need to happen in order for it to drive constructive career progression conversations across all levels in the organisation
- We’ll help you define (but not limited to):
- What is the process and timeline for progression?
- How does the progression framework fit in with any performance process?
- How will you use this in 1:1s?
- How do we want to launch and communicate the framework for both existing employees and as an employer brand tool for future candidates?
- Where will it live? How will people find it, use it, add to it so it doesn't become a stale document?
- How do you expect team members to engage with it for goal-setting, peer reviews etc?
- We'll help you figure out what your comp philosophy and strategy is to ensure you are compensating your team fairly and competitively.
- Employing people globally? We’ll also help you define your approach to location based pay.
- Defining when pay reviews will happen, what the process will look like and exceptions to this.
- FAQs will be focused around helping the two cohorts below understand all those niggly and gnarly questions that come up time and time again.
- Leadership team and People managers
- All employees
‘Making sure all the hard work sticks’
Before launching, we’ll make sure all your people managers understand how to hold constructive career development conversations and have confidence when talking about pay.
- We’ll run as many sessions as needed.
- Session length = 1.5hrs
- Max of 8 people per session.
- We’ll work with you to define how to launch the framework and comp philosophy and make them stick. We have tried and tested launch content, from a company wide all hands launch deck, right through to example emails for people managers to send to their direct reports.
🛍️ Key deliverables
These will vary depending on which option you choose above, but will give you an idea of what good looks like at the end of a project.
🧑🏭 How we work
A standing weekly 1hr call that we use to brainstorm on a particular topic.
Async catch ups over Slack = 1hr.
1-2hrs making customisations to the presentations we’re working on or reviewing content that has been tailored by you.
We’re online 8am-7pm UK time to answer any questions via Slack connect to help unblock you, keep you moving in the right direction and course correct where we think you might be going down a 🐇 hole.
We work on a day rate model, tracking time used. Example factors that determine time:
- Depth of discovery work
- Number of focus groups to run for the building of the framework
- The amount of customisation on the compensation calculator
Material costs vary on the option you choose, with it heavily weighted towards the compensation calculator which powers all of the comp analysis.
When working with Justly all the materials shared with you are yours to modify and keep once the project has been completed.
⛔ Out of scope
While progression and performance are two parts of the same puzzle, the scope of work in the options above will not involve re-designing or a deep evaluation of your approach to measuring employee performance.
I'd be happy to spend time discussing any existing processes you have in place, and make sure these are accounted for in regards to any processes we’ll be introducing.
We’ll look at the numbers that come out of any external data source to make informed decisions, however, by default, the calculator won't benchmark against against variable compensation or equity.
Why? I’ve learnt that every organisation approaches equity and variable pay differently, which makes it incredibly difficult to build a one size fits all model for benchmark purposes.
If this is something that is very important to the project, then we can discuss the level of customisation required and scope out this work.
- Yes! Head over to and find one that helps you fit your immediate needs.Templates
Yes. For example, if you have an urgent pay review coming up, then you can start with Option 1. Should you then want to build a career progression framework at a later date (Option 3), we’ll simply bolt on the additional material costs and days required for this scope of work.
Yes. A 10% discount is available for charities and non-profits.
Yes. All the materials shared with you are yours to edit and keep.
Yes. I help clients refresh their benchmarks every 6-12 months i.e. during performance reviews or annual market movement assessments.
- Upgrade your Justly compensation calculator to the latest version.
- Migrate employee information from your existing calculator to the new one.
- Make any custom changes required based on previous work.
- Upload and refresh the external benchmarks.
- Give you a quick demo of any new features.
Cost = £1,250
This cost can vary depending on the number of salary benchmarking sources you wish to use and complexity of any custom work.
No. We’re not a salary benchmarking provider. Costs for salary data from providers such as Radford, Mercer, Figures, Pave etc are not included.
We’ll talk about which data set is right for you during our initial calls, and if you need to purchase data then you’ll need to arrange this contract separately with the vendor.