People Manager Career Ladder

A huge part of what makes Cantilever special is how we treat our people. The current agency model is broken, promoting burnout, work/life imbalance, and disillusionment. We are a remote culture that strives to create a better world for creative and technical professionals. We are very proud of comments like this in our Glassdoor profile:

There is a real company culture of empowerment, teamwork, open communication, and a generally enjoyable work environment. I think this points to an understanding that 1) employees are not robots and 2) happy employees generally produce better work and more efficiently.

Everyone on our team should feel that they are supported professionally and personally. We practice servant leadership and view the manager and report as being in partnership, not hierarchy.

People managers are measured by the health, productivity, and growth of their reports. Caring for people isn’t just the right thing to do – we believe that healthier and happier team members produce better work in less time.

Growing as a manager means learning more about what makes people tick, and applying those lessons to how you interact with reports. It means taking an active role in helping them grow – even if that growth means they leave Cantilever.

Our people managers are also pivotal in helping leadership understand the mood and needs of the organization as a whole. We are growing, which means that leadership won’t observe a lot of what goes on. People managers must bridge that gap intelligently.

On a practical level, our techniques are modeled after the Manager Tools framework. If you are a people manager, we highly encourage you to listen to their podcasts and absorb their techniques. They aren’t always perfect for us, but they are always a good start.

This ladder is unique in that most People Managers at Cantilever will wear other hats as well. So someone may be a junior People Manager while being an expert developer, or vice-versa. The weight of the roles should influence salary considerations when using our pay tiers.

People Manager Career Ladder

Attitude and Involvement
Is available and involved in reports’ work lives. Is attentive to reports’ personal lives. Remains calm and collected in discussing reports’ shortcomings or mistakes. Provide encouragement. Understands their reports’ long-term life goals.
Seeks books/articles/etc that reports would enjoy. Looks for event and training opportunities to grow their skills. Advocates for their report internally and externally. Follows their reports on social media and helps them promote causes they care about.
Visits their reports in person periodically. Introduces their reports to new professional contacts and networks.
Establishes professional goals with each report. Finds and shares materials they may like to review on that topic. Asks them about their progress during 1:1s.
Sets up coaching sessions with reports to work on their work goals. Establishes timelines and expected outcomes for coaching. Follows the Manager Tools coaching model to keep coaching effective.
Envisions and designs new coaching programs for reports (current and future). Creates video and written content using the results of coaching sessions, alongside reports.
Practical Knowledge
Understands the core of what their reports do on a day to day basis. Understands what they need in order to succeed. Understands the relationships involved in getting their work done, and the dynamics of inter-team communication. Knows the basics of payroll, benefits and HR legal compliance (at Cantilever and in general). Knows our policies intimately.
Understands what their reports do intimately. Can help reports break down problems and can suggest changes or improvements. Knows payroll, legal, and HR topics well, and can provide advice and guidance to reports on how to set up their legal arrangements with the company.
Can independently develop creative solutions for financial and legal matters related to reports’ employment. Speaks and writes about management publicly on behalf of the company.
Best Practices
Conducts 1:1s and Quarterlies in line with Cantilever policies. Provides feedback for each report at least once a week. Oversees PTO and makes sure their reports all take their PTO in any given year. Is available for questions and feedback from reports all the time.
Proactively schedules non-standard meetings with reports to cover specific challenges. Connects reports with others in the organization who can help them with certain problems.
Envisions and develops new policies to improve outcomes for reports. Communicates with leadership to implement successful experiments across the company. Speaks and writes about management on behalf of the company.