Situation and Challenges

With fewer than 50 employees, the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation did not have a formalized career plan in place to guide promotion decisions. Raises and promotions were handled on a case-by-case basis, yet both managers and employees sought a structured approach to promote increased transparency and greater employee satisfaction.


First, we evaluated all of the positions within the organization to ensure each position had a complete and accurate job description. Then, we did the following:

  • Compared each position for similarities in scope and complexity
  • Streamlined the positions into nine levels/job titles, using a job structure grid
  • Performed a benchmark compensation study and assigned compensation ranges to each level
  • Outlined two paths for development—lateral movement to increase breadth of skill and upward movement to increase level of responsibility


Managers were trained on the new structure and its use in guiding development discussions. The model was introduced to staff in a group meeting followed by individual conversations with their manager. In communicating our findings, we were transparent with the staff about the salary range for their level, and ways to enhance their career.


Employees at the Foundation now understand the path for earning a raise or promotion, and managers have objective criteria to guide decision-making. The implementation of this new model removes ambiguity from the process, enhances trust, and ensures equitable treatment of staff.

In the year since this new structure was implemented, several employees have earned promotions, and more importantly, more meaningful conversations are taking place.