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Rethinking promotions the key to career progression


“We value wide-ranging experience. That may mean the next job is not the next rung up the ladder, but switching to a different area helping you to develop mastery of skills across a number of different areas.”


Photography: Arsineh Houspian

One question I’m often asked is: how should I think about advancing my career, especially when many of the parts of the bank are working in agile teams with flatter structures?


Others are wondering about the impact of shifts in how we work post COVID-19.


Do certain skills count more than others? Is more emphasis placed on formal qualifications or can candidates dazzle with a breadth of experience or a polished interview performance?


The reality is, we take a number of things into account when we look at promoting our people:


Be open to change


Someone comfortable with change and able to adapt to a changing environment is extremely valuable.


A big part of our culture at ANZ is that we are always learning, because roles are constantly evolving and we need our people to keep pace.


We want to invest in people who can learn new things quickly, and are adaptable and resilient because our business and the needs of our customers are changing so rapidly.


Last year, ANZ had more internal promotions than it had new starters. Of the roughly 6,000 employees who moved roles, more than half were internal promotions.


Demonstrate and build broad experience


The structure of the bank – and many companies – has changed in recent years to become less hierarchal, job titles have become less important and it’s less focused on a single ladder to the top.


ANZ increasingly values candidates’ wide range of experiences, rather than expertise in a single area. This helps build a broader understanding and can bring important and alternative views to problem solving.


Relationship, influencing or analytical skills can be developed in a number of different types of work - e.g. relationship skills are relevant for how you manage vendors or internal customers in a technology role; how you work as a business partner in an enablement role; or how you work in a customer facing role whether it be sales or service.


"This concept of ‘lattice careers’ has been around for a while. Rather than just focusing on building vertical depth of experience, lattice careers focus on breadth across a specific set of skills and make targeted, lateral moves to build mastery. It’s really valuable for the individual and valued by organisations."


We want our people to reflect on what they are learning as they develop; focus on what they are getting out of each role and experience rather than just getting the next stamp on their CV.


This may mean your next role is not necessarily the next rung up the ladder, but switching to a different area to seek mastery of a particular skill. Secondments are a great way to broaden your experience and exposure to different areas – last year we supported 1,292 secondment opportunities in ANZ.


Consider culture


Recent research shows that millennials and Gen Z want work that has meaning; for ANZ that means being driven by our purpose, values and our new ways of leading.


Our purpose (shaping a world where people and communities thrive) drives our decisions, and our values and leadership behaviours outline the critical elements of how we do our work. All our people are expected to demonstrate these behaviours: integrity, collaboration, accountability, respect and excellence.


We have an even higher bar for leaders, we want people who are curious, empower others to grow, help their people navigate lateral careers, connect with empathy and create shared clarity among the team.


These skills are so important during times of extreme ambiguity and uncertainty, as we have witnessed over the past 12 months.


Three different ways to think about career progression


Rather than have a singular focus on your next promotion, my advice to those people who ask me about career progression is to keep the bigger picture in mind:


1. Build breadth and consider lateral career moves -  promotion shouldn’t be the only goal.  Think about how you can develop new skills and apply those skills in new contexts around different types of work.


2. Having a growth mindset is really critical – being open to different opportunities, reflecting on your development and growth, being confident to get strong and robust feedback so you are constantly learning and building your skillsets.


3. Culture is king – How you work and lead is just as important as what you deliver, it’s easier to do your best work when you feel aligned with the purpose of an organisation and can see how you are making a meaningful contribution.



This piece has been adapted from the original interview with AFR - Four things HR looks for when promoting leaders.



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