Up is Not the Only Way

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Redefine advancement and career success to include more than just traditional vertical moves and you will realize that there are many ways to develop and enhance your skills. Today, moving in directions other than vertical no longer means you are being sidelined. Here are several ways to move:

Lateral Moves: Lateral moves are excellent ways to increase your portfolio of marketable skills, broaden your breadth of experience, experience other managers and leaders, and demonstrate newly acquired competencies by working with different colleagues in a new part of the organization. Different sorts of projects, team assignments, rotations and mentoring relationships with people from other parts of the organization are developmental and increase perspective and abilities.

Enrichment: “Growing in place” provides opportunities for learning and development yet it does not require you to move out of your present job. Through job enrichment you can enhance your reputation in the organization, increase your own job challenge, build competence/confidence in skills, and widen your network of contacts. More importantly, it can perhaps prepare you for lateral or vertical moves in the future.

Exploration: Exploration involves the process of researching and testing multiple opportunities so that smarter decision making is possible. Exploration can help you validate the benefits of your present job, clarify choices and options, and increase contacts to learn more about the organization. For instance, job rotation and temporary or short-term job assignments encourage you to push beyond current task boundaries and check out assumptions about other choices before committing to a specific next career move.

Realignment: Moving downward in the organization – or realignment – may be an option for managing personal change or for reconciling the demands of work with other priorities. These moves are enticing to individuals who want to reduce pressure or for those who recognize that managerial responsibilities are not for them. It also can work as training for acquiring new skills or for moving in a different career direction.

Remember: Up is clearly not the only way, but flexibility is!

The ideas and concepts in this post are adapted from Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni’s book, Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go.

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