logo

The 4 key points Harold makes are:

1. The "Ladder" is now a "Lattice"
2. Be clear about your aspiration
3. Identify and close the gaps
4. Try other ways to stretch

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YouTube Link: Climbing the Corporate Ladder | Ask Harold, Episode 16

Ask Harold Episode 16 Transcript:

Today I’ll answer a question from a viewer who wants to climb the corporate ladder, but is not sure how to do that – especially when there are fewer roles to grow into. For anyone who is looking to build a career, this can be frustrating. So let’s get into it.

Hi everybody, Harold Hillman here. And thank you for joining me on episode 16 of Ask Harold. Today’s question is from Chris who aspires to grow beyond his current role in a company that doesn’t have many upward growth opportunities. Now this is a common dilemma for people who love their company but wonder whether there is enough stretch for them to grow.

Here’s what Chris writes:

Dear Harold,

I work for a medium-sized company that is growing. I love the company because we have a strong brand that stands for something.

When I joined 3 years ago, I made it clear that I wanted to become a manager. In my first year I was promoted to team leader. I learned a lot and thought I was ready to take on a manager role when it came open earlier this year.

I didn’t get the role and was told that I needed more experience, which is hard to get in a company with just a few key roles at the next level and with very little turnover at the top.

For people like me who want to stay and grow with the company – it’s getting harder to justify why we should hang on.

What would you recommend that I do to keep my head in the game?

Regards,

Chris

Thanks for that question, Chris. You’re right about needing to keep your head in the game which is half the battle when you face this type of dilemma at work. You want to stay but you also have a long game in mind. So everybody needs to support where you’re going with fewer roles to move into, what do you do to keep yourself growing?

Well I’ve got 4 things that I’ll ask you to consider in this situation:

1. The first is: the ladder is now a “lattice”. Deloitte has done some very impressive research that shows how the corporate ladder has slowly started to morph into a corporate lattice, where the growth opportunities are increasingly lateral – “sideways” we used to call them. Or even downward in some cases, which isn’t a big deal if the new role actually gives you some extra skills that help to prepare you for an even bigger role.

We used to think of a sideways move in the company as hitting a plateau. But that’s no longer the case. Now moving laterally is a way to grow your knowledge of the business and get some new skills. Any company that wants to keep good talent knows that it has to keep those people on some learning curves. A lot of those learning curves aren’t about moving up, but rather they’re about working across which helps develop a new set of skills. So check your mindset to make sure that your career compass is not always stuck on north but can also deviate in other directions to accommodate for more opportunities to learn and grow.

2. The second thing is: be clear about your aspiration. Don’t leave it to a guessing game between you and the company about what it will take to keep you there, especially if you really don’t want to leave.

Make sure that your manager knows that the chance to grow some new skills is part of what you signed up for. It could be learning to run big projects, or getting more experience as a negotiator, or learning how to lead a team, or even a whole division. Don’t leave it to chance that the company knows how you want to grow in your role. Sit down and have that conversation. It could actually put some things into play that might otherwise sit on idle.

3. The third thing: identify and close the gaps. In Chris’s case, he would want to know what skills were lacking for him around the manager role that he went for but didn’t get. If your growth area is in how to influence people more effectively, ask to work on a special project where those skills are more likely to be put to test. Or if that gap is related to something more technical, you might work with a coach who can help you focus on that specific area until you feel competent.

Remember: you don’t have to be in a leadership role to learn to lead. So get creative with your manager on how you can close some of those gaps.

4. And fourth thing: try other ways to stretch. When internal roles are limited, think about ways that you can grow your skills and perspective through some external activities like seeking a mentor who can give you some broader perspective on your career path. Or working with a coach who can help you lift your capability in a specific area. Or by enrolling in a training course, or seeking a higher qualification, even a degree, that may position you for that next role.

Thanks again for that question, Chris, and thank you all for watching Ask Harold. On the next episode, I’ll answer a question from a viewer who wants to create a vision for her team and doesn’t quite know how to start. So, we’ll definitely dig into that.

And remember: if you liked this video, tell others about it and subscribe to Sigmoid’s YouTube channel. And if you have a question of your own, or want to see my other videos and articles, go to my blog at www.drharoldhillman.com

Take good care and see you all soon.