From the Heartbeat newsletter from Claire Lew.

How do you avoid attrition of talented employees by not having enough management roles? Yet, at the same time, how to do you avoid the Peter Principle?

Review what “success” is for each employee. The key is to make sure people’s individual ideas of success is aligned with the organization’s idea of success.

Develop multiple career paths for individual contributors, beyond management. Have it be just as easy and just as rewarding to move up levels within an individual contributor track as it is to move into management and move up the management track. For example, you can have people progressing into engineering managers (which has multiple levels), or progress as an individual engineer (which also has multiple levels). Andy Grove in High Output Management calls these individual contributors who advance “know-how managers.”

Provide “mentorship” roles instead of pure management roles. Some people function better as technical mentors and leaders rather than as people managers.

Have your lead roles be rotating roles with an additional bonus. For example, people elect their leads, and that person stays and leads as long they see fit, but function more like the representative of the group rather than a “boss.” Compensation is not exactly separate because you get a bonus, but you’re not changing the role, so it’s not a direct step-up. It’s a strategy that Semco used – you can check the Pyramid and Circles item of this post from 1989 on it.

Know that people will leave – and support them when they do. Attrition can be a natural and healthy part of a growing team.

Encourage folks to be honest when they feel they want to leave, and support them when they do. One Watercooler member has a Slack channel dedicated to #alumni as a way to stay connected to folks, and show the company’s desire to support them even after they’ve left.

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