In the Digital Development department we take people career progression seriously. Every person has the opportunity to progress in their career at the Guardian, including being promoted to a more senior role.

Your own participation in your progression is actively encouraged and we want you to feel that you can discuss this with your line manager regularly. Your career progression is in your hands!


The aim of this document is for every engineer in the department to understand our career progression process, and for that process to be clear and consistent to everyone.

Career progression framework

This framework lists all the roles available, and all the skills and competencies expected from our engineers in those roles. There is a separate tab for each job type in the department.

The personal qualities we consider important tend to be very similar for different roles, so we have mapped out all roles against the same 8 qualities.

Each column describes for each role what we would normally expect to see, although this is a spectrum rather than a simple yes/no and people will no doubt be stronger in some areas than others.

For the purposes of grading, we have split framework criteria into Core & Supporting groups:



Breadth of influence


Role specific skills / Experience in role

Inspiration & vision


Strategic contribution

Delivery performance

Analytical Contribution

The roles are not intended to be hierarchical. For instance, developers don’t report to senior developers etc. and everyone’s input remains equally important

The career progression framework is available for everyone to review online.


GNM (non-Editorial) has 5 official performance grades. These can also be found on spike.


Does not consistently meet expectations

Successfully meets expectations

Exceeds expectations


Unsatisfactory: Performance is consistently below expectations, and/or has failed to make reasonable progress towards agreed goals. Significant and immediate improvement is needed in most aspects of this position. A performance improvement plan must be outlined and monitored.

[DEV & SENIOR] Does not consistently meet expectations: An employee performing at this level may show a good performance level on the whole, but occasionally has shortfalls in delivery.  Depending on the circumstances, a performance improvement plan may be necessary, with timelines for improvement established.

[LEAD] Does not consistently meet expectations - TBD

Meets expectations/medium: you need to meet all of the criteria in the Career Progression Framework for their grade and occasionally exceed them.

Meets expectations/High:
You must have at least
3 Exceeds in Core criteria + 1 Exceeds in any criteria (core or supporting)

Exceeds expectations: You must have all Exceed in Core criteria + 2 or more Exceeds in supporting. You need to consistently exceed expectations which means you are fulfilling most of the criteria for the role above your current one.

Exceptional: you need to Exceed in all criteria (achieve all of the criteria for the role above yours) and more! This is only awarded to 1-2 people a year!

The Digital Engineering Managers also give one of 3 sub-grades to each Guardian grade above:

These are used to track people's’ trajectories through their main Guardian-wide grades. It would be considered unusual for somebody to move up or down more than one sub-grade over two quarters. People who do are more likely to be discussed during the Quarterly Calibration session, outlined below.

Quarterly Review process

Every 3 months you and your line manager will review your progress over the last quarter.

As part of the review process you should write a self-assessment and grade yourself. Your grade is also peer reviewed as part of the quarterly calibration process.  You should also be given feedback on how you performed by your manager, and given a grade. 

If, having discussed your grade and the reasons for your achieving this grade with your manager, you disagree with the grading your manager has given you, you may appeal to have your grade reviewed.

Quarterly Calibration Process

Every quarter as part of your career development process, we take all the grades people have been given by their line managers, and compare them with the grades across their peer group.

This makes sure that managers are grading people consistently, and grades are consistent with performance across the department.

This ensures that people who are performing at the same level will get the same grade, regardless of their manager.

This also makes sure managers are grading people fairly, and that changes in line management don’t result in fluctuations in grades

You are not calibrated within your probationary period.

Eligible for promotion review

Promotions are generally considered every 6 months, end of Q2 and Q4, but are occasionally considered outside of this cycle.

Your manager will consider you for promotion based on your behaviors in the past few quarters, and reviewing your behaviours is part of the Quarterly Review process. You can also express interest in being promoted yourself as a way to initiate the discussion.

You should have a clear sense of how you are performing within your role, and the steps required to progress. You also need to achieve a balance of skills and competencies, and demonstrate clear impact on the area that you've been working.

You must have had 2 or more consecutive quarters of Exceeds or Exceptional gradings in the recent past to be eligible to be considered for promotion by the Engineering Management Team. If this is achieved and your line manager believes you have a strong case for promotion, your case will be submitted for consideration in the next bi-annual round.

Please be aware that there may be many other engineers who are also under consideration in that round, and you may not be successful due to budget constraints and/or that other staff may have a stronger case than you for promotion. For instance, they may have Exceeded expectations for more prior quarters than you.

The following example lays out some scenarios which assume that upon consideration by the management team, they agree that you should definitely be promoted in that round.

To be promoted as part of the Q4 round of promotions, you must have gained Exceeds expectations in at latest the Q2 and Q3 of that year. This is because we evaluate promotions mid quarter, so they can be submitted with the end of quarter budget. There is therefore an scenario where you get your first 2-quarters of Exceeds expectations in Q3 and Q4, but are not promoted until Q3 of the following year. This is illustrated by the diagram below.


Eligible for in-band pay review

If your last two quarterly reviews have been graded at Successfully meets expectations (High) or higher, then you become eligible for an in-band pay review. The overall budget for this is limited and is dependent upon who and how many people succeed at being promoted this cycle.

Another demonstration of the two review cycles

One to Ones

You should be meeting with your line manager on a regular basis. This gives you a chance to talk about your career progression, and review your objectives and discuss any issues. If you think you are interested in promotion, you should look at the Career progression Framework and discuss this with your manager.

Annual Review Process

This is a Guardian wide process, in which all employees are graded. We calculate your annual grade based on the 4 gradings for each quarter.