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Gurgaon, India; San Francisco, USA

Well I am not talking about farming, I am talking about you! And yes, I am talking about your career growth and nothing else.

First of all, do consider that the times are changing and changing fast. We are in the era where vertical farming is not a strange thing anymore. Technology is enabling unprecedented rate of change. And I want to say that the change is also encompassing the work environment and you need to also change the way you look at growth.

Mostly the notion of growth that we have is Vertical and we have a word for it too, “Promotion”. I am here to make you consider growth that may not be a clear “Promotion”.

As you reach mid to senior levels of management, the role above your role (or the vertical growth role) will be multi-faceted. Your own skills may not be enough for you to fill that role, so even if you are best among your peers to fill that role, it may be possible that the company considers you inadequate and hires externally. Now you are stuck with a new boss and a limited chance for growth again.

So, what should you do? Let us consider the facts first:

  • The vertical position above you became available
  • Among the peers you were the best
  • But leadership did not see you as fit to take it up

Now let us speculate what could be on their mind?

  • May be, they worried that your peers will accept you?
  • May be, they worried that you do not have the required width?
  • May be, they worried that you lack the maturity to handle that role?
  • May be, they do not even know your capability.
  • May be, they do not know you enough.

Whatever may be the reason, the truth is that the jump was considered too big for you. What happens now? If we do not do anything, same thing will happen next year or the year after, “The jump will still be very big for you.”

In short you need to create opportunities to grow so that the perceived jump becomes smaller. That means you must consider horizontal growth so that you have more rounded experience and can overcome the hurdle of “Too big a shoe to fill”.

In concrete terms what does that mean?

  • Take up a change of geography
    • Same work, but in different geography, add the capability of diverse cultures and geography.
  • Change into adjacent function
    • Same vertical, but different sub-stream, i.e. if you are in field marketing, take up product marketing or any other related field etc.
  • Move within food chain
    • Move to a customer organization or a supplier organization, it could be an internal customer, i.e. from research to product management.

Spend a few years building a rounded-up profile. So even if it does not seem like growth, so are still shortening the distance to the next role and can claim it with ease.

Do not endlessly wait for vertical growth, grow horizontally first to have a shot at it.

Post Author: kaurmanbir

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