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No ladder or pole, just a squiggly career path

Blair McPherson - former Director, Author and Blogger
The idea of the career ladder is outdated and limiting. Requiring people to climb up the next rung or be satisfied where they are is why organisation end up with the wrong people in management posts and some very frustrated people with more to offer under them. People need to be able to move sideways ,even down,  in order to move round and on and up. This is how successful , ambitious people  manage their careers.
This is what agile organisations want and need , agile managers , people with transferable skills . An Agile manager can take on responsibility for areas they have no professional background in or previous knowledge of, quickly get up to speed and apply those transferable skill of people management, budget management and information management.
My own career path was squiggly which is a new way of saying not so much snakes and ladders as Over, Under Sideways, Down. An example of employers recognising management skills were transferable.
Changing from children to elderly people with dementia because social work skills are transferable. ( sideways move). Managing a group of homes for older people giving me the skills and experience of managing large staff groups and big budgets. (Up)
Big Project management, managing a team of people responsible for finance, IT and Policy with partner agencies across the public, private and voluntary sector (up and very sideways)
Moving from Local Authority Social Services to Housing  Association because management skills are transferable including the management of change. (Sideways)
Moving back to Local Authority provider service all client groups (drop in pay and status), Up and round as Assistant Director Resources – finance, IT, HR
Up and sideways as Director of Community Services -libraries, museums, registrars, coroners support, communications, policy and adult provider services. Because management skills are transferable.
My squiggly career path was not initially about ambition or a recognition that transferable management skills made me a more attractive proposition and increased my options . That realisation only came after a successful secondment as a Project Manager, a post I only applied for following an unsuccessful interview for another post and a determination not to return to my substantive post.
But thereafter I encouraged those I managed and mentored to view their management skills as transferable and their career progression not as a ladder but a squiggle or an over, under, sideways, down journey.

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