global recruitment specialists
Do You Want Your Boss's Job?
Or maybe you have your sights set on another senior role within the organisation? Where you are in your career might dictate how long it takes you to get there but here are six steps that will speed up your progress on the career ladder...
1. Formalise a Plan
Having a plan is essential to keep you on track and help you make informed choices about your career along the way. Look at some of the typical upward career trajectories that people have taken in yours and similar organisations. Carole Miller, founding partner at the management consultancy Tinder-Box, says it is important to be flexible because of the exponential rate of change in the workplace. "If you look at a list of the Top Ten jobs in 2011, most of them did not actually exist in 2005," she says. "Be cognisant of this rate of change within yourself and within the wider world too." She also advises against fixating on one specific job as you progress. "Give yourself permission to change your mind and be prepared to branch out."
2. Get your boss on board
Engage your boss with your ambitions. This might seem dubious behaviour if the end-game is his or her job but unless you are an immediate threat, they will be pleased you have aspirations. Find out about their route to the top and the challenges they faced getting there. Look at how they deal with problems and different situations in the workplace and learn from them. Also observe how they network both inside and outside of the organisation. Develop your relationship with them and ask for regular feedback rather than wait for the annual appraisal to come round. "If you look at successful figures, one of the key factors in their career has almost certainly been having a strong sponsor," says Miller. "Your boss is perfectly positioned to become that sponsor. Get them on board right from the start."
3. Consider a Lateral Move
This can sometimes be seen as a non-progressive move especially when forced on you but a sideways move can provide a different perspective or completely new experience. "It can be a really positive move and you shouldn't only accept it but positively encourage and embrace it," says Nick Holley, Consultant, Coach and Director of the Centre for HR Excellence at Henley Business School. "We also have to realise that at some stage for the majority of us our careers stop moving vertically (Peter's principle) and we have to accept that we are going to move sideways at best for the rest of our working lives. In this situation a sideways move can be critical to maintain our interest and motivation."
4. Plug Your Skills Gap
Learning should never stop throughout your career and you need to be constantly assessing your skillset and proactively seeking out training opportunities to acquire the skills needed for your next step. Such training may be funded and provided by the organisation but remember learning opportunities are all around. David Cleeton-Watkins, Senior Consultant at Roffey Park, advises trawling your network to engage people with the expertise you need. He also recommends being clear about priorities "Do you need knowledge, new skills or more experience?" he says. "Look for a mentor or a coach if you don't have one, and go to seminars, conferences and exhibitions to pick up ideas and new contacts. Lastly, it's important to recognise what you have already: what evidence do you have of the skills gap? Talk to your line manager to find out how you are viewed as an investment for the company's future."
5. Gather Company-wide Knowledge
While you need to be intimate with the inner workings of your department, make certain you have a grip on the organisation in the bigger picture. Sadly, too many departments operate as silos and fail to interact or gain an appreciation of each other's role. Anyone moving upwards needs to break through these barriers and acquire company and industry-wide knowledge. "Knowledge from other departments can be acquired through both formal and informal channels," explains Vlatka Hlupic, professor of business and management at Westminster Business School. "So ad hoc interactions, social occasions, the grapevine and the like have a role, as do formal protocols, publicly available company information, e-mail exchange and meetings." She adds those companies using social media for internal communication are a step ahead when it comes to knowledge exchange, and you should tap into these.
6. Broaden Your Experience
You may have to consider leaving the organisation to acquire the broad range of experience necessary to continue your upward move if the right promotion prospects don't exist with your current employer. Compared to somewhere like Germany, where career moves are expected to be within a much narrower field and used to build direct technical depth, more creative moves are possible in the UK, says Professor Paul Sparrow, director, Centre for Performance-led HR at Lancaster University Management School. "What matters is that the value of the new experience can be related back to the original sector," he says. "However, this tends to work best for the more senior types of roles, where the experience of looking at your original sector from a new one can be translated into insights, strategy and change management when you return. Do you have to move to get that strategic insight or can you engineer a move inside the firm onto a more meaningful project? That is the choice."
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