Career Transition – The Inside Job: Question #1. When Is It Time to Move Up?

Bruce HazenBruce Hazen, MS
Three Questions Consulting
www.threequestionsconsulting.com
brucehazen@cs.com | 503-280-0151

The Inside Job: Question #1. When Is It Time to Move Up?

Just after Christmas 2011, I wrote about the Three Career Questions You Must Answer…More Than Once. When is it time to move up? Move out? Adapt your style? In this blog I want to consider the question of “moving up?”

Think of “moving up” as meaning moving up the developmental curve or as progressing. It’s not just about promotion to a higher level of compensation or organization status. It could also mean:
• moving laterally or down in an organization to get access to work that takes you to your personal next level of development (regardless of what the organization considers “next” to be)
• developing in place and enriching the job you’ve got ( see my blog from Nov 30, 2011)
• changing geographic location to increase the amount of experience you want

Progressing vs. promotion? Is this a distinction you’ve made before? Our work culture is evolving away from status derived from making things and from controlling means of production to knowing things and creating or innovating with the knowledge. This is moving us from large numbers of formal organizations that had structure, and status associated with that structure, to smaller, nimble, knowledge-worker cultures. Here talent develops more individually than according to traditional organizational timelines and definitions of status. So moving “up” now means something different.

Take a minute to think of your own potential move up. You don’t have to do anything about it right now. Just imagine a move or two that would develop you. Who might you work for or partner with on a project? What is a type of work or position of responsibility that would feel significant and satisfying to you and help you feel like you had progressed?

Ideally you should write this down someplace where you’ll have to encounter it in a couple of months if not sooner. “Notes to self” such as these are the little prods or pokes that we can rediscover at a later time and realize that they captured an insight of lasting and compelling value about our sense of how to progress in our profession. Put this description in your calendar as an appointment six weeks from today. Let me know what your reaction is when you discover it for the second time, six weeks from now.

You might also think of “moving up” and progressing as a form of personal “actualization” as Abraham Maslow described it in his classic work; Motivation and Personality (1970). Let’s think of actualization as; “the coming to know and express, over a lifetime, all the capacities and talents we have.” Maslow’s theory of motivation also suggests that we are drawn to additional levels of personal actualization by the satisfaction of one level and the ensuing hunger or striving for the next level. We get to experience and release the capacities that are within us as well as develop new ones.

Some organizations have structure, growth or attrition sufficient to create opportunities for you to move up in a somewhat elaborate hierarchy of roles. Progressing inside the same organization may allow you to:
• develop longer-term relationships
• create a more consistent stream of income and savings (401K, pension, etc)
• accrue benefits like vacation that come with seniority or time-in-place

There’s nothing wrong with this type of move up. But it’s becoming rare. The goal now is to get you thinking about “moving up” as having personal dimensions that you might not have considered. Dimensions that can be fulfilled without a promotion.

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