Let’s face it, backing yourself isn’t easy. Putting your hand up for a promotion isn’t easy. And competing against colleagues for a vacant role certainly isn’t easy. Is the alternative any easier though?
Over the years I’ve coined a term: ‘carpathy’. It means career apathy. This term relates to ‘good’ employees who show up, get the job done and are engaged. They have sound ethical judgment and demonstrate core values. But although their performance year-on-year meets expectations, they are overlooked for promotions and can’t understand why.
That may be because some leaders see this person as lacking a growth mindset or ambition to propel themselves forward. That might be the case. However there are some employees who are ambitious yet still show signs of ‘carpathy’ because of the way talent is recognised and elevated.
A proactive approach
The traditional - and potentially antiquated - approach of being a ‘good’ employee and discussing your development goals with your leader in the hope you’ll be promoted doesn’t necessarily translate in modern business culture.
I should know, I blindly followed this path for years.
During this period, I attended countless seminars on personal development and finding the key to success. While these experiences had merit, it became evident that promotions happen to people who promote themselves.
This doesn’t mean being the ‘tall poppy’. It means switching your behaviours from being reactive to proactive and even looking sideways for opportunities.
For instance, according to ANZ Group Executive for Talent and Culture Kath van der Merwe, a wide range of experiences are valued when screening candidates, rather than expertise in a single area.
“This concept of ‘lattice careers’ has been around for a while,” she explains. “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 valuable for the individual and valued by organisations.”
While I wholeheartedly agree with Kath, and I’m proof that lattice careers work, it’s easier said than done. Ultimately, you still need to be noticed and that won’t happen through a traditional mindset or playbook.