Broadspring Consulting

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Redefining Career Success

Moving up the ladder

Traditionally we are told that “moving up the ladder” is the goal in a career.

Told that promotion equals success.

Encouraged to seek out leadership positions because that is where the power and influence lies within companies.

And yet looking around many organisations today and coaching many individuals the message is very different – more people than ever seem to be dissatisfied, disgruntled and disengaged from their work.

I believe it is because we need to redefine what career success is – what it feels like, looks like and what it involves.

In a conversation with a colleague earlier this week we started talking about our careers and job satisfaction. Having run my own consulting practice since 2008 I am pretty happy in what I do and understand what success means to me. My colleague has worked for the same company for 12 years and was expressing how she felt about her role.

Her last promotion took her away from the type of work that she loves and excels at and put her into a different area – think about the great sales person who always makes targets and has great rapport with customers only to be promoted to sales manager where the targets are about what other people earn and not facing clients.

She commented that being in a senior role was “not all that she expected” in terms of how much influence and authority she really has – think about the company that has a range of policies and frameworks that define who can do what and where, not the manager of the area but the manager acting within the authority laid out elsewhere.

Let’s redefine it!

Satisfaction, Proficiency and Contribution

Career progression ought to include three key factors: satisfaction, proficiency and contribution.

Satisfaction is how you feel about your role and relies on a good level of self awareness – hence why many organisations conduct personality preference assessments, and why career coaches like me ask questions about the things that you value and feel proud of as an employee (or business owner)

Proficiency relates to your expertise level and is often closely associated with satisfaction (as has been said elsewhere – we practice what we prefer and that practice creates proficiency – therefore the more we like to do something the more likely it is that we will do it often and then become very good at it) This factor also relates to your level of experience and growth. It can be highly challenging to continually improve and enhance your proficiency in a skill or industry area without needing to be “promoted” into a leadership role.

Contribution is the most important factor in my view as this is about the value you deliver to your company whether through excellence in technical ability or role modelling and coaching others. It also relates to the contribution we make to society and our families when we are enjoying our work and feeling the desired level of progress, challenge and recognition.

Traditional models of career trajectory are only about going UP the ladder.

A new way of career growth is to consider ourselves part of a network of connections – home, work, self, community, family.

Satisfaction in our work helps us to bring home not only money for the family but a better version of ourselves – a contented, calm and successful self.

Connections notice how we behave as this is linked to our emotional state which is heavily influenced by our work and our career.

Try assessing your career goals in terms of a broad and organic career rather than purely upwards and feel free to let me know what that brings for you.

If you would like to work more with me in regard to your career and coaching please get in touch.