Career growth in a scale-up world
Last month, on the back of employee reviews, Snyk was recognized on Comparably’s list of Best Companies for Professional Development. All of which has me thinking a lot about career growth in the scale-up world.
When you’re in a fast-growing organization, revenue’s going up, you’re hiring like crazy, all around you there’s an air of ebullience and optimism. The sheer volume of growth opportunities around you seem obvious. And then, all of a sudden new people join, and something changes. You find your role getting narrower in scope, parts of your role might be given away, maybe someone even being hired above you. You feel under-appreciated—despite all your hard work, parts of your role are handed to someone else. People tell you it’s career growth, but why does it feel like ‘less’ and not ‘more’?
In her advice to ‘Give Away your Legos’, Molly Graham sums up this seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon perfectly. The key to growing in a scale-up environment is to be willing to continually give away what you were working on, give away that part of your ‘lego tower’, to free yourself up to focus on newer challenges. It’s in this intentional embrace of continuous change that growth occurs.
At Snyk, we think about this greatly. We hope our Snykers stay with us for years. But, inevitably, the time will come for each of us to move on, and when that happens, we want every Snyker to look back on their time at Snyk as a time of growth; where they belonged to a network of incredibly smart colleagues, learned from new challenges, and added new experiences to their toolkit, that ultimately launched a leap forward in their career. From our development goals to our learning resources, and our investment in experienced leadership talent, as well as our multitude of challenging projects—there is no shortage of opportunities for growth in this scale-up environment.
For this reason, we ask all Snykers to pause every six months, and reflect on their growth. What did you work on that was different? What new skill did you learn? What tool did you add to your toolbox? Without these periodic moments of reflection, it’s hard to be deliberate and directional about your growth.
Taking advantage of opportunities in a scale-up isn’t always easy. It takes security, trust and a generosity of spirit to be willing to give away what you were working on. It takes grit, determination and hard work to continually dive into new, unfamiliar areas. And it takes headspace and perspective to see the forest from the trees, and recognize learnings that come from the most unexpected of places.
It isn’t always easy—but the opportunity is immense and the stakes in a scale-up environment too high, the alternatives too few. As an individual, be willing to ‘give away your legos’. There’s newer and better towers to be built. As a manager, create the environment where your team is supported to do so—where it’s safe to try, safe to fail, and the learnings from embracing change are in themselves the reward.
Our SDR team (more to come on this in a future blog post!) have pulled together a series of Executive Fireside chats where each of our Exec team members are invited to share with the SDR team on their career growth. I’ve been thinking a lot about the advice I would want to impart on the team, and it is this:
Think of your career growth as a series of S-curves growth-bursts. Sometimes you’re spending time at the bottom of the curve where it doesn’t feel like you’re growing much, but in reality, you’re building incredible skills that will give you an ignition boost of exponential growth. Sometimes you’re at the top of the curve, where you’re maximized in your role and you’ll plateau unless you look for your next challenge, your next S-curve. That’s when it’s’ time for you to give away your legos, and embark again on your next challenge.