Being determined to learn and grow is one of our guiding principles, and while everyone is encouraged to take on responsibility for their own development, we also have a few processes in place to support our PAUA people.
Every six months, we organise a Development session for each team member. The meeting serves as a platform for both reflection and planning. It’s facilitated by the Personal Development Coach and also attended by the respective team lead.
Part of the session provides an opportunity for everyone to discuss their current situation and potential gaps within their team, but the meeting also invites participants to reflect on their own vision for their professional life, and take stock of how well they’re progressing towards it.
Included in this is a review of the status of their goals, which they have been working on over the last 6 months.
Moreover, we have recently developed a competency framework, which acts as a reference point in these Development sessions. The framework sets out key categories, defined for every role, and expectations are set for each competence level within these categories.
The team member evaluates both their strengths and improvement potential connected to their roles and individual development path, after which focus areas for the next six months are agreed upon.
The framework makes this both easier and more precise. At the same time, potential roadblocks are discussed, together with ways EMPAUA can support in resolving and removing these obstacles.
All of this helps uncover valuable insights that can be considered when setting new goals.
Depending on what the team member would like to achieve in the next six months, the team lead assists in coming up with SMART goals.
That way, we ensure that the goals are well thought through and fit both the individual development path as well as aligning with the overall company strategy.
The team lead will conduct regular goal check-ins with each team member over the next six months, to track goal achievement and to adapt them should difficulties arise.
So that summarises the theory – but we bet you are curious how it looks in practice and what our team thinks of the process. Here is what some of our consultants have to say:
Ksenia Gusseva: The Development Sessions allow me to align on the next steps and goals that I would want to put forward. When working day in and day out, I sometimes forget where I’m headed to with my career and these sessions allow me to reflect back on the previous months and figure out where I should put more focus to continue to develop.
I like the fact that EMPAUA is not concentrating purely on developing their employees in technical areas (being a tech consultancy), but also emphasises the importance of personal development, especially in line with our company values. This allows for synergies: figuring out my own way of self-management also helps in Project Management, as I apply the same structure and techniques there to keep the projects on track.
The professional development process in EMPAUA is by far the best I’ve experienced in my career so far. Employee development can sometimes feel like a tick box exercise, the usual benchmarking against a specific role and annual performance reviews which are soon forgotten. Here, I can see that my team lead genuinely cares about my growth, and, what’s more, the vision that I have for my professional life is taken into account.
Mindaugas Savicius: I enjoy taking a break from the busy day to day work to reflect and evaluate myself. The Competency framework has been a great addition – it helps me to understand better where I am currently at and what the next steps would need to be in order to get to the next level.
In the Development sessions, I can express my ambitions and challenges as well as comparing my self-assessment with others’ perception of my work. That way, I don’t only receive useful advice on how to best tackle these challenges and great guidance on how to achieve my goals, but also pick up on development opportunities that I would have missed without these sessions.
Apart from boosting my upskilling, the sessions help to establish trust: I feel listened to and it gives me peace of mind to know that my development plan has been documented, and it will keep changing and growing along the way with the support of EMPAUA.
And that is not the only thing that facilitates my growth: From learning sessions to financing certifications, I think there are great initiatives in place to foster personal development. In my opinion, the self-management structure also contributes greatly to nurture talents and enable skills enhancement.
Caitlin Pittorie: The competency framework is great to use as a baseline to continue enhancing your skills. You are comparing yourself, to yourself, but within the parameters of what EMPAUA considers to be a competent employee. This is helpful as you can clearly see the areas recommended to improve upon to continue growing professionally.
It has made self-assessment and goal setting easier for me, as I can see the rating I gave myself a few months ago and compare it to now, to see if I have improved or where I need to continue putting in effort.
I also like that even if, due to project distribution, I have not been working closely with my team lead during the time leading up to the session, they have made it a point to speak directly with others who did work closely with me, in order to get a full understanding of me and my working habits.
This allows the sessions to be incredibly effective as we can use real examples and results to discuss my development.
Theresa Richter: I think EMPAUA’s approach to employee development is brilliant. I am reminded at regular intervals not to stand still, but to reflect on my knowledge and performance and how I can develop further, and I receive valuable support in doing so.
To give an example: in one of those sessions, I expressed my interest to learn more about flows in Salesforce. Since the topic was relevant to other people as well, several learning sessions were offered by our internal flow experts. Apart from that, my team lead suggested checking if there was a team currently working on a project that included flow building and sees if I could get involved. Indeed, there was one, and I could apply my new knowledge straight away. In other words, if you address which topics you are interested in and want to learn more about, people will try to help you make it happen. I am not just a number in the system, which is what I have experienced in other companies. Instead, we brainstorm together how I can use and expand my skills in a way that advances me and benefits the company at the same time.
Gareth Evans: In many organisations, it feels that personal development sessions and conversations are simply tagged onto the end of a person’s annual review or objective setting. They’re relegated in importance to the company and only included as a small token to the employee.
Whereas, at EMPAUA, it’s put front and centre in everyone’s considerations. The competency framework is great in providing a structure to review and assess the skills you need, not just in our immediate role, but in the career, we’ve all chosen to pursue.
Obviously, we each need to own and manage our personal development, but the difference is that EMPAUA really supports you in doing this.
And it’s not just the structure and focus on personal development at an organisational level, but the fact that everyone in the company is there to help and provide guidance to each other on achieving our personal goals.
Written by Sophie Rödl, Mental Health & Culture.