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Engineering Growth Framework from Medium

I recently started a new role, and one of the first things I’ve been looking at is career ladders (aka job rubrics), org structure, and performance reviews (a.k.a. talent reviews or growth frameworks).

In that vein, the Medium Engineering team’s “Growth Framework” was recommended to me, so this is a quick summary of it.

TLDR; Medium have a “Growth Framework” for recognizing and developing their team that uses 4 categories (Building, Executing, Supporting, Strengthening) each with 4 tracks. Each track has 5 increasingly difficult to achieve milestones, and each level of milestone has points associated with it. The more points you have, the higher your level, which translates into job titles. Whew! It is a complex system, and while perhaps more complex than many (especially smaller) organizations need, it is none a very interesting framework which many might use as a reference. The tracks, milestones and examples in particular can be useful inspiration when putting together your own career guides.

Medium “undertook a project to define professional development for members of Medium’s engineering team”, which they called their Growth Framework. It is their approach to development, recognition and leveling.

Some of their goals are:

  • Allowing engineers to develop in multiple ways, rather than artificially reducing them to “engineer” or “manager”.
  • Recognizing that roles are not static, and that people will evolve
  • Codifying what is expected of engineers.
  • Recognizing contributions that are typically undervalued

To recognize the unique combination of skills that engineers can bring to the table, they came up with 4 categories (Building, Executing, Supporting, Strengthening) each with 4 tracks (so, 16 tracks in total):

  • Building: Mobile, Web Client, Foundations, and Servers
  • Executing: Project Management, Communication, Craft, and Initiative
  • Supporting: Career Development, Org Design, Wellbeing, and Accomplishment
  • Strengthening: Mentorship, Evangelism, Recruiting, and Community

These tracks are discussed in more detail in their second post, Engineering growth: tracks. Interestingly, each track is weighted equally.

Then, it starts to get a little more complicated (you can tell that Medium out a LOT of time in to this). Each track has 5 increasingly difficult to achieve milestones. Each milestone has a description, which provides a high-level overview of the milestone, and 6 example behaviors and tasks.

This is an example from the Communications track


Each milestone earns points, with each successive milestones being harder to achieve and hence associated with more points.

This approach generally favors specialists over generalists.

Finally, the points contribute to levels:

And those levels 5 major levels roughly translate into titles, such as Engineer I, Engineer II, Senior Engineer, Staff Engineer, and Principal Engineer. Very interestingly, to me at least, is that team members don’t have to stick to these titles externally though. Instead you can choose a title from a restricted set at each overall level for external use (e.g. on your LinkedIn profile). Someone at Level 3.3 might choose Engineering Manager or Senior Engineer depending on their focus areas.

Then, how to use the framework to actually assess and level people is covered in their third post, Engineering growth: assessing progress.

You can see their rubric in full at Medium Engineering Growth Rubric.


Finally, Medium are continually evolving their process, and notes on their latest evolution can be found at 2019 update Engineering growth at Medium.

In it, their updated points for consideration include:

  • Focus on describing behaviors you can observe, teach, and evaluate in your rubric criteria.
  • Craft a framework that centers around a growth mindset
  • A strong rubric will incentivize the kinds of behaviors that we want to see in the team.
  • Ideally, we would have a completely objective rubric, with simple Yes/No decisions made about clear, concrete tasks. This isn’t completely possible,.



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