Engineering Ladders at Meetup

Makers, managers, and leveling up

Clear Expectations is one of the three pillars of management at Meetup. In my role as a fractional VP of Engineering, I was ecstatic to help Meetup’s HR team develop a new cross-company leveling rubric — really clear expectations! — for managers and individual contributors, organization-wide.

The new rubric captures performance expectations at each level, aligned with Meetup’s company attributes: accountability, decisiveness, focus, high expectations, drive, and customer focus. There’s a ton of great career ladder inspirations out there (I often see Rent the Runway’s career ladder referenced!); it’s especially great when an organization customizes the language of its career ladder to reinforce and weave in their values.

Just like improving our product via continuous iteration, Meetup loves to iterate upon and improve our engineering management and engineering organization. So we took this opportunity to significantly iterate on our Engineering Ladders, with two goals:

  • Align with Meetup’s management pillars, attributes, and values (including setting clear expectations!)
  • Improve how the Meetup engineering team aligns with the rest of the company today, as well as preparing us for future growth

You can see the changes in this commit and the results on GitHub!

Meetup Engineering Manager and Maker paths

You’ll notice that there are two career paths, which Yvette Pasqua introduced when she joined Meetup as CTO:

  • Makers focus on software architecture and development that drives results
  • Managers focus on team management and development that drives results

As Yvette says in her onboarding presentation to new hires, we encourage movement between the maker and manager paths at the right time in their career.

These career paths now line up to the new company-wide rubric and levels — and in fact, in many ways, informed them! We’ve also woven the rubric’s language about expectations into the Engineering Ladders. For example:

  • “Is expected to be an exemplary model for optimism, bringing solutions to surfaced problems, and coaching others to do the same”
  • “Is expected to make courageous decisions confidently in a timely manner”
  • “Should have a demonstrated ability to regularly provide clear, actionable feedback in all directions, finding the appropriate group venues to do so”

As you can imagine, there’s usually a state of flux when skills matrices and career rubrics are rolled out organization-wide. For example, you may notice that the Senior Staff Engineer role on our ladder doesn’t have a linked description (yet) — that’s because there’s a new level on the rubric company-wide, but we didn’t have it on the Engineering Ladder before. I love that our new Engineering Ladders now match what’s expected of people in different levels across the company, reinforce what we value at all levels, and will keep evolving as the company evolves.