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Monday, January 9, 2012

Career Growth yet not Upwards

How has the year been? Would you say there has been any progress along your career path? What are marks of progress? Might you be closer to where you wanted to be than you were at the start of the year? A look back at the year that is ending raises critical questions in the minds of many. Career progression has always been equated with vertical growth up on the organisational structure. Moving up from being an assistant to becoming an officer, or from being an accountant to becoming the chief accountant. That is great and clearly motivates many employees.
There is however a cohort of employees that has gotten content with lateral career growth. This is growth that is horizontal. Such employees would not die fighting for a promotion up the company hierarchy. They have found satisfaction in growth that is horizontal. The fight for the upper echelons at the company has been substituted with the desire to seek for challenging tasks, seeking for innovations to perform task and running with the task. These staff have realized that career growth can be as rewarding horizontally as it is vertically.

This trend has been necessitated by various reasons. In many companies, most of the high level positions are already filled by the baby boomers who are permanent and pensionable, aka P & P. It is therefore not wise to sit and wait until the bosses vacate the seats since it could just be they are with the employer till death or ill health or retirement do them part.

The upcoming young generation realizes it requires seeking for satisfaction not in vertical growth but in actual tasks accomplished. This has produced a high flying workforce that is running after tasks, seeking for challenges as they are easily and quickly bored by routine. They actually abhor most of the available vertical promotions since they realize that the vertical growth comes with more responsibilities and less time for innovation and fun at work. They hence seek to remain ‘down here’ where they can make all manner of trials and errors since they know they have the space and time to be creative.

Due to the fact that many employers will normally make salary adjustments every year, the lateral career ladder enthusiasts will bask in ever rising salaries at their levels yet with more time on their hands to remain true to their inner desires. At this level, they have fewer or no staff to supervise on a top bottom approach hence have better opportunities to mentor on the job. They hand-hold their mentees since they work on the same level on the same tasks, and not necessarily sending tasks downstream for the lower cadre to implement.

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