If you were to take a look around our Hanoi or Da Nang offices and speak with some of our Team Leaders and Management team, you would notice a pattern we are proud of: those positions are filled by talent we have identified, trained, and promoted from within our company. Our team leaders were once photo editors fresh from their university studies, our shift managers were previously team leaders, our technical trainers were some of our best photo editors and team leaders, and so on.
Our internal development curriculum has always been wide ranging. When clients visit our offices, it often comes as a surprise to them that we are running not just technical skills courses, but soft skills courses like public speaking, leadership, and English. We do this to provide an opportunity for staff to develop lifelong professional skills, in addition to skills more directly related to their current position.
We are running not just technical skills courses, but soft skills courses like public speaking, leadership, and English.
As we’ve grown, our training and development needs have as well. We recently decided to create an internal academy in order to satisfy our constant hunger for talented, ambitious leaders. First, we identified our goals. We decided our new program must:
- Clearly illustrate the positions available to our photo editing staff.
- Continue to keep Team Supervisor, Account Management Team, and Quality Assurance positions open to every employee.
- Define coursework and training requirements required for advancement.
- Improve graduates' eligibility for new positions.
In response, we developed the “Pixelz Next Step” program. Staff in the program spend six months working through a professional pathway that trains them for a higher position of their choosing, through a combination of classroom training and an internship. Any staff member can enter the Next Step program, but it’s strictly voluntary. Volunteering is an important aspect of the program, because we want to engage our most motivated staff.
Next Step is structured with four professional pathways: Production, Quality Assurance, Account Management, and our Training Department. Each path contains two to three positions (mirroring our company structure), and each position has an assigned combination of required soft skills and technical skills necessary to excel at that particular position.
During the onboarding process, Next Steppers select the position they would like to “Next Step” to. They then begin a four month training process, completing 6-10 soft skill courses including everything from written communication skills to motivation and leadership skills. Next, they enter a 48 hour intensive mentorship working with someone already occupying the position they are striving towards.
The Next Step Mentorship is an opportunity for Next Steppers to spend six entire 8-hour work days, with regular pay, experiencing the position they are hoping to occupy. This provides an opportunity to see the real challenges of the position, tools and skills in use, ask questions about the nature of the job, and get familiar with the team they may eventually be working with.
The program is intensive, with high standards for success: staff are expected to have a 100% attendance rate and passing grade in each of their required training courses, and 100% attendance to their mentorship days.
After Next Steppers’ coursework and mentorship is reviewed and approved, they receive a certificate of completion at a Next Step graduation ceremony and a cash bonus for their hard work. When a spot opens at the position they are now certified for, Next Steppers are the first to interview for the position; essentially, their resume is at the top of the pile.
Next Step works because it is mutually beneficial for the staff who participate in it and the company as a whole. Staff motivated to move up now have clear professional pathways to most positions within our company, and the courses they take help to develop skills they can use even after their time at Pixelz.
It also helps us as a company. Our rapid growth means that positions are constantly opening and we are, in turn, constantly looking for internal talent to fill those positions. Before Next Step, positions would open and then we would search out talent and train them for the position, or have to train on the job. With Next Step in place, we will now have a pool of talent already trained and ready to fill positions as needed, allowing us to scale with people who we know have the skills and experience necessary to succeed.
Raising the technical skill, soft skill, and English skill level of our staff is important not just because we believe it improves our company, but because we know it also improves the daily work experience of our staff. Having clearly defined paths to increase skills, responsibility, and pay gives an important sense of professional mobility. Seeing a future for yourself results in higher engagement and personal satisfaction.
In the end, we want to give all staff the skills necessary not just to succeed within our company, but to succeed in the world long after their time with Pixelz.