10 Jul

Deep End Talent Strategies assessed and updated career progression paths, approaches, expectations framework, and corresponding compensation philosophy as this large nonprofit moved into new phase of aggressive growth.


Note: This case study is anonymous per the terms of our agreement with them and the fiercely competitive nature of their funding sources. We will refer to them as ICN here.

ICN had a new CEO, Board Chair, Chief Medical Officer, and VP of HR in late 2021 who were tasked with positing the organization to be the penultimate authority on cancer research. The organization would need to attract, growth, and retain some of the top experts in the world. Front line call center employees who provide daily support to patient and caregivers were equally vital to attract, grow, and retain. Our mission was to develop a competency and career framework that was flexible and yet consistent to apply to all associates around the world. 


Career Framework: Naming and Framing We began with a review of their existing job descriptions and salary ranges compared against their strategic objectives and found these gaps: 

  • Duplication of duties across multiple departments and levels
  • Language that was not as inclusive as the new leadership desired
  • Pay disparities that could not be tied to performance, geography, or another clear strategy
  • Lack of career progression clarity
  • No training or tools to have career conversations

Through interviews with leadership and existing documentation, we identified and articulated six critical factors for career success and progression within ICN: Functional Knowledge, Business Expertise, Leadership, Problem Solving, Impact, and Interpersonal Skills. Each of these were then defined across three career tracks encompassing 10 career levels. 

The final Job Leveling Framework makes it clear how the expectations change and increase as one matriculates across career levels and the three career tracks of Professional, Manager, and Executive. Job titles were standardized and mapped to show equivalence between departments and functions, as well as pay bands. 


The Deep End team created a presentation and internal messaging to share the Job Architecture approach and final framework to the Board, then leadership team, and finally to all employees. This was the Aiming phase, ensuring that everyone was working towards a consistent understanding of how success would be measured going forward. Messaging tools we created in the phase included: 

  • Defining what Job Architecture is and its components
  • Understanding ICN’s Job Level Framework and how to use it in day to day work
  • Establish a common baseline of how each level is defined and characterized across ICN
  • How to utilize the framework when considering new position or promotions on your team
  • How to conduct career conversations with employees using the framework


With a new leveling framework, updated job descriptions were created for each role and shared with employees for their review and signature. These conversations were practiced and coached to ensure understanding of the framework and why job titles likely changed. Leaders needed to be armed with answers to how this was or could affect compensation.

Compensation Benchmarking 

Updated job descriptions then enabled Deep End Talent Strategies to conduct a robust compensation analysis based on national averages for US employees, as well as unique to the geographic location of each employee. We then facilitated leadership conversations to help them determine a compensation philosophy. 

Some existing employees were above the market midpoints and in some cases, above the maximums based on their revised job description, level, and pay band. Other employees had large pay gaps and would be on a multiyear plan (sometimes with more than one increase in a calendar year) to close gaps and ensure pay equity. 

Cohesive Talent Management 

Revised expectations for current employees and clear expectations for new hires set the state for all employees to be selected, coached, inspired, evaluated, and rewarded against the same criteria for an equitable approach to HR, but also a cohesive approach to talent management. 

The organization followed this project with a succession planning efforts and individualized development plans that tie into the competency framework with targeted mentoring and development efforts. 

Read more Case Studies of our the Deep End team has partnered with organizations for HR and talent management efforts.