Engineering growth: appeals process

Part four of a five part guide to assessing professional growth at Medium

Medium Engineering
Oct 17, 2017 · 4 min read

As we continue to learn, we are now on our third iteration of this process. Please see here for the latest update.

We recently undertook a project to define professional development for members of Medium’s engineering team. As part of that, I wrote this document to describe the appeals process. It was originally published to Hatch, our internal version of Medium, on August 25, 2017. For more information about Medium’s practice of making internal documents public, see Hatching Inside Medium.

This is the actual document used by Medium to define how the appeals process works, and has replaced the version on Hatch as the source of truth. If you take a job at Medium, this is how you can appeal your formal review, should you need to.

Preface: Introduction
Part 1: Framework overview
Part 2: Tracks
Part 3: Assessing progress
Part 4: Appeals process
Part 5: Frequently asked questions

You can also read the rubric in full, and use the interactive tool.

In rolling out our growth rubric, we’re starting a more formal conversation about growth at Medium. This gives engineers the opportunity to understand the progress they’ve made, how they can progress in the future, and how that translates to their overall level. This is the beginning of our efforts to have more ongoing and intentional conversations with engineers about their growth.

Using the growth rubric, a review panel determines the current progress measurements for each engineer. This group will formally assess milestone progress every 6 months. The panel is designed to ensure that progress isn’t determined by a single individual — instead, a group of people holistically review an individual’s progress, and determine what milestone they have achieved in each of the 16 tracks.

We recognize that while the review panel will consider many different inputs and behaviors, its assessment may still sometimes be inaccurate— whether due to a misunderstanding of a project’s complexity, or differing interpretations of a milestone’s requirements. We understand that the framework isn’t perfect, and we will continue to iterate on it over time. With this in mind, it’s important that we provide space for engineers to ask questions, get more context, and request a second consideration of progress and level.

To support this, we’ve created an appeals process. We think it’s important to have this in place from day one of the new framework, to ensure we start off in the right place, and so that engineers feel empowered to advocate for themselves if their perception differs from that of their initial assessment. In the future, growth will be an ongoing conversation engineers have with their group lead, which we hope will make appeals less necessary. The aim is to have a transparent process where engineers are engaged and involved every step of the way.

Appeals Panel

Appeals will be reviewed by an appeals panel, some of whom may be on the review panel, but some of whom will not. The appeals panel will have at least one contracted external industry expert to provide a measure of disinterested impartiality.

Material Change

The appeals panel will only review cases where a change in milestones would lead to an overall level change. This is to avoid overburdening the appeals panel with minor changes that will not have a material impact on level or salary. Depending on the volume of appeals, we may review this rule in the future.


Appealing your assessment is a 5 step process. The window for lodging an appeal is end of day, 3 business days after your assessment is communicated to you. We will try to make allowances if external events prevent you from submitting an appeal within that timeframe.

  1. Once assessments are made, you’ll have a conversation with your group lead about how your milestones and level have changed. This is a space for you to raise any initial questions or concerns. Your group lead will discuss these with you, provide you more context if necessary, and give you advice on whether an appeal has a realistic chance of success. After that conversation, if milestone measurements still don’t feel accurate, and a favorable outcome would impact your overall level, you can make an appeal for your assessment to be reviewed. You can lodge an appeal, without penalty, even if your group lead doesn’t think it will be successful.
  2. Gather as much evidence as you can, and fill out this form. This will help highlight information that showcases your achievement in the track(s) you’d like reviewed. For example, you might point to projects you’ve completed and what type of work you contributed. Or, you might point out relationships you’ve developed, and processes you’ve improved. Include anything that contributes to your progress in the track(s). The more specific the better.
  3. Confirm with your group lead that you’d like to make an appeal. Include the additional info and context you gathered. If you do not feel comfortable raising this with your group lead, you can reach out directly to the head of engineering instead. Doing so will have no negative impact on your appeal, but we encourage you to work with your group lead first, if you can.
  4. The appeals panel will take another look at your progress, taking into account the additional information you submitted. We’ll also confirm that both HR and your group lead know that your assessment is being reviewed and has the potential to change.
  5. The appeals panel will make a final decision and will share the outcome with you and your group lead. We will aim to have appeals completed within 1 week of the close of the appeals window, though this may vary with the volume of appeals and the availability of an external industry expert.

If you have any questions about the appeals process, reach out to your group lead, HR, any other group lead, or the head of engineering.

Engineering Growth Framework
Engineering Growth Framework
Engineering Growth Framework

About this Collection

Engineering Growth Framework

Documentation for Medium’s professional growth framework

Documentation for Medium’s professional growth framework

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