The question candidates for any position at Silverchair most commonly ask me is what professional growth opportunities we offer.

That is not at all surprising given that lack of opportunities for development has consistently remained the number one reason people leave jobs. Conversely, offering growth and learning opportunities is the most important thing employers can do to keep people happy and engaged. 

One of Silverchair's 2022 goals is to focus on making Silverchair a healthy, sustainable, and thriving place for all of us, which includes intentionally developing the unique potential of every person. We live out this commitment in several important ways: 

Servant Leadership  

The vast majority professional development at Silverchair happens in the course of our work together, largely as a result of carefully curated experiences. In a relatively small, high functioning organization like Silverchair, we can leverage our authentic understanding of our people and their professional goals to identify and sensibly match them with opportunities. 

Ground zero of professional development at Silverchair is each person's relationship with their people manager. All of the professional goal-setting we engage in has meaning. This is how we get to know not just each person’s capabilities, but also their aspirations, so that we can mold their individual professional experiences. The most impactful and lasting professional growth is the result of intensive one-on-one coaching in which our leaders strive to truly understand the people on their team and facilitate their unique contributions to Silverchair. This is why we have adopted a servant leadership philosophy (a key aspect of Agile Scrum) and invested heavily in the development of our leaders. Servant leaders inspire trust and loyalty in their teams by prioritizing the growth and wellbeing of others.  

Responsive Staffing 

As well, our Staffing Committee, which meets monthly and steers team assignments, actively discusses not just client and capacity needs, but also how we can best position Silverchairians to attain the growth they are seeking. We consider not only an individual's contributions to their current role, but also their strengths and their interest in growing specific skills. A great recent example is our decision to transition an employee who recently attained a master's degree in data science and who had a strong desire to apply his knowledge professionally to our analytics team. 

Peer Training, Coaching, and Mentoring 

Silverchair has communities of practice (CoPs) for each major role group, as well as a "Super CoP" comprised of each of the CoP's leaders. This latter group coordinates professional learning across the organization and ensures coherence in the themes on which our CoPs are focused. CoPs are adaptable groups of professionals that gather to discuss and resolve problems of practice, establish norms in our ways of working, and architect career pathways. One of the proudest accomplishments of our Business Analyst CoP in the past year, for example, has been the development of a competency model defining expectations at every level of the BA career pathway. We also ensure new BAs and software developers are assigned a mentor to serve as an added source of knowledge, support, and encouragement as they onboard to our world. Many of these relationships have continued well beyond the orientation period, resulting in a rich network of organic developmental supports. Our BA and developer Lunch & Learn series are another example of how our people bring knowledge to our community and learn from one another. 

Formal Training 

We do also offer formal training, which is heavily focused on the onboarding of new Silverchairians. During onboarding, we provide an overall introduction to our industry and our business, as well as an opportunity to gain proficiency in specific skills. Our BA Support Model provides excellent visibility into how all of these sources of support come together to ensure new BAs are positioned for success. As well, dedicated staff at Silverchair have percentages of their time allotted to skill-building, coaching, and mentoring. 

Then there are external trainings, classes, conferences, and certifications, which are often the first thing that comes to mind when people think about professional development. We offer access to a LinkedIn Learning subscription to Silverchairians who are working on developing specific skills. In addition, all of our developers have access to self-directed training — including trainings in support of certifications — via Pluralsight, which we actively encourage.  Although these options have appeal because they are well-defined and enticingly presented, they do not have a perceptible impact on a person’s professional development journey until the learnings are applied the context of supportive team and leadership relationships. A great way to integrate external learning is to teach what one has learned, which is yet another reason why our Lunch & Learn programs are effective.  

As Silverchair works toward achieving its growth aspirations, I look forward to answering this important question for future Silverchairians in the months and years to come.  

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