Random thoughts, curated sporadically.

Hell hath a big title

Promotions.  Always celebrated.  Rarely refused.

For most of us a promotion is something we strive for, particularly in the early stages of our career.  There is something appealing about a neatly carved out promotional pathway of celebratory milestones, remuneration increases and impressive new titles.  But as we grow and change, so too can our reason for being; our needs, wants and aspirations ... and we can find ourselves wanting to deviate from the gilded path laid out before us.

Head of something

I love a great title.  Chief Something Officer.  Director of Stuff.  Lead Whatsit.  But the glint of a title and all the trappings that go with it disappear very quickly when you realise there is an actual job behind it.  Honing your craft can be one of the most rewarding endeavors in any profession.  Whether you're an architect, lawyer, midwife or engineer, many of you stepped into your profession for the meaning or purpose you gained from your work. 

So when a promotion takes you away from your craft it can feel like a double edged sword, particularly when everyone around you is applauding your 'success'.  Suggesting a different way forward to those who have gone before you can border on the insulting. How do you tell them you don't harbor the same ambitions? That you have a sneaking suspicion that you may climb your way to the top, just as they did, and not like the view? 

Seeing around corners

We often talk about strategic foresight, or the ability to 'see around corners' when we discuss leadership, innovation and strategic planning.  But we don't often look around career corners.  And before we know it we are on a predetermined journey with one destination.

And this is why it's important to listen to ourselves and realise that sometimes our lack of enthusiasm has meaning. A reticence for promotion may in fact signify an underlying, unexplored ambition.  An interest in another discipline. A pull towards starting your own business. A love of being on the tools.  Ignoring these aspirations sees you adapt to someone else's idea of 'success', rather than your own.

Re-designing 'success'

We all deserve to experience our own version of happiness free from others' expectations and rigid frameworks.  But in reality we live within industries, organisations and societies that continually tell us what success looks like, how to get there and when it should happen - where saying 'no thanks' to a promotion is testament to a lack of ambition. 

This is why those of us in the employee experience space need to step up and understand the impact our predetermined and rigidly designed career pathways are having on workplace diversity, employee engagement and retention.  And to do this, we need to design flexible and creative career pathways with our employees; not for them.  Pathways that invite difference in.  Pathways that smash open that glass case of promotion and celebrate individual aspirations, creativity and choice.

For it's fairly obvious; if we don't create diverse career pathways for our people, they will create their own ... somewhere else.