New entrants to the job market understand this. They already have lower expectations in terms of career ascendancy than their predecessors. Instead their focus is on variety, learning and enjoyment. Companies must respond, finding ways to enrich and enlarge roles to satisfy the ambitions of the talent in their midst.
And the employer-employee relationship has changed too. Workers who are determined to get on take ownership of their own future and seek to build value in what they offer their employer, strengthening their CV at every step – both within and outside the organisation. Whether through further qualification, volunteer work, seeking secondments, joining work teams or taking on additional responsibilities in their role, the ambitious take charge of their future and seize opportunities to demonstrate their value to the employer.
From the organisational perspective, there is work to be done. Against a backdrop of falling job satisfaction, reduced trust and less consultation with employees (CIPD Employee Outlook: Year Review July 2010), too many line managers are afraid to open up career discussions because they feel there is nothing to offer. Ironically, this is particularly true where they have a rising star they don’t want to lose. What they actually mean by ‘nothing to offer’ is that there is no promotion available.
However, silence on the topic of future plans for their rising stars may be taken as disinterest (rather than what it is – fear of losing them). The result? Their rising stars depart for pastures new, or lose enthusiasm and reduce effort as their role becomes familiar and mundane.
Increasingly, feeling happy and valued is top of the agenda for staff, so managers need to have frank – and creative – discussions about the opportunities that do exist.
Build your experience
If we think about career development as being just that – development and not necessarily promotion – we can immediately identify that actually there is a great chance to create opportunity. Chiumento describes this as the career carousel - where opportunities often move on a horizontal rather than a vertical level, but like the carousel horses, there are chances to move both up and down within those role changes, making it an exciting way to develop if properly managed.
Be frank with your line manager about your desire to build on your experience; even better, look at your organisation and identify for yourself what interests you and where you feel you could add value. Be ready to take a step down in order to move up. When the chance for promotion comes, those who have worked to expand their knowledge and expertise will hold the strongest position.
Sometimes the best place to expand knowledge and learning is not with the current employer. Perhaps your organisation is too small to offer you new opportunities? Perhaps it is too large making it hard to get the range of experience you want? There are real benefits in experiencing both big and small organisations, because culturally they are also very different and this will broaden your experience. It will also show you which suits you better for future career planning.
In considering whether you develop your career ‘within or without’ your current organisation, start with a checklist of what you want next and in what environment. Culture is crucial to finding ‘happiness’ at work. So often it is missed as a criterion among applicants who have simply checked off the job description.
By considering the person specification and researching the company culture you can learn a lot more. Anyone planning to move employer needs to be sure the cultural fit is strong. Make it a key criterion on your list.
Today promotion is a limited route to success and is often a closed door. Anyone aspiring to move up the organisation in terms of seniority in the long-term should broaden their knowledge and experience in the short- term. Hunt out the opportunities for enrichment and enlargement yourself and take control of your career future.