QUESTION: Career growth is all about moving up in the organization hierarchy.
FACT: One can slip into a lower position and it may not harm your career growth.
A career is a journey. Most employees choose an industry and work there all theft working life. There are some who change their career midway and climb the ladder again in a new field. Some take up something as a hobby and turn it into a profession. However, the general perception about going up in a career means climbing the organization ladder.
As a person reaches the middle level in an organization, there are chances of that phenomenon called a ‘Sword of Damocles’ hanging over his head. The position that he occupies can suddenly become non-permanent, because of a variety of factors—restructuring; shuffling of product portfolios; evolving a flat organizational structure; merger with another company; the division being sold off; or the company itself closing down. A position that looks stable in one financial quarter can suddenly become vulnerable in the next, since every company fives on quarterly targets to produce expected or better results in order to satisfy their shareholders. Some of these changes can also provide an opportunity to a few people to rise, but a majority will be impacted adversely.
Everyone should remember that a career path does not mean only going up the organization ladder—it’s a journey. During the restructuring process, a position can be downgraded or, if it remains the same, the scope of work might reduce significantly. Those used to having a team size in the hundreds might now have fewer people. Those who had multiple functional areas under their charge are reduced to managing just one function. However, moving to a lower career level in the same organization can also be considered growth; for example, when a merger takes place, a vice president could become a director, but with a larger team and more responsibilities.
During the restructuring process, it’s the management’s responsibility to ensure clear communication about the purpose, timeline and action plan of the overhaul. And in most cases, much more than communication is required; the management has to go out of its way to help the impacted employees so that the transition is less painful,
Sometimes, as an employee, you have also got to understand that your company can hire smarter people than you who might overtake you in the promotion race. So, eventually, all professionals will have to come to terms with the fact that the growth of a career will not really be uniform, time-bound or smooth; they should be prepared to face all types of turbulence. The best way is to enjoy whatever you are doing.
WHAT CAN YOU Do AS THE EMPLOYEE? You should understand that a career doesn’t grow by virtue of high-sounding job titles. I have seen a few candidates who have turned down an offer not because of the salary, company or the difficulty of the work, but because the new designation was perceived as being inferior to the one that they had held. You should avoid this syndrome as you have no control over your title during a .restructuring process. It’s up to you alone to determine what you should do, and you should not be carried away by what your friends have to say. When you are successful, there will be any number of people around you who will praise your decisions as ‘bold’, but when you face a setback, the same people will deride your decision-making capability. Yes, you should listen to your friends to a certain extent, but even then, you have to do what you feel is right. Career growth should be looked upon as what you want to do in the best possible way within a given time period; it has to be looked upon as something that will give you a sense of satisfaction and achievement.
WHAT CAN YOU DO AS THE MANAGER? If you are a hiring manager, you need to explain the company’s job levels and why the candidate is a suitable fit at that particular level. It is up to the candidate to take up the job with its new challenges or stick to the one he is holding where he enjoys .a ‘heavy designation’. If there is, any restructuring taking place, then you need to map out a clear picture about the candidate’s job level which will help him understand the new role better. You yourself should not be ‘label conscious’; otherwise, your explanation and attempt to convince the candidate will appear flimsy.