We are often asked, both by people using Progression and those not, if they should use 'parallel tracks'.
What this means is: 'should we have separate ladders for our managers and non managers?'
Traditionally you only have one ladder. When you get to a certan level of seniority the only way to proceed is to start to manage people.
We're big fans of parallel tracks. Here's why.
If you don't have parallel tracks, two things will happen. One, people will leave the company, and two, you'll end up with bad managers.
Not everyone can be a manager. It doesn't make any sense. If everyone's a manager who is doing the work? If not everyone is going to be able to be a manager, those people who aren't are going to get stuck when there's only one track.
What's going to happen then? Those people think 'there's nowhere for me to go here', and they're going to leave.
Alternatively you end up getting some managers who don't want to be managers. Or worse, might not be qualified to be managers, but end up managing because it's the only thing that they are able to do to progress.
The consequence is you end up with managers that don't enjoy the job and may not engage with getting better at it.
At worst this can be destructive and culturally bad for the company. So avoid putting people in a situation where the only way to be more senior is to become a manager.
Time for parallel tracks
Make your seniority levels on your non-manager side (your individual contributor track) as high as they can possibly go. It may not go all the way to the top of your organisation, but it should go as high as possible. This will allow the vast majority of people to have somewhere to go without having to feel like they need to be a manager.
As a result the people who do want to manage will naturally gravitate towards management and you'll get better managers. You also won't lose people who don't feel like there's any other option.
Built into the core of Progression
Parallel tracks are super easy to set up. Tracks are built alongside one another as you can see in the image below. Add seniority on both tracks, and as a result highlight the opportunities for individuals whether they want to manage, or not.