Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Avoid the glass roof

Have you ever heard of the glass roof? A lot of mid-level managers with ambitions know what it is, a lot of hard-working engineers know what it is - and it seems inpenetrable. It is the invisible obstacle that stops you from climbing the career ladder within your organization.

Do you have ambitions to climb to the top, or at least to higher altitudes? Most organizations are somewhat hierarchical; only so many positions are available at the top and the number of broilers trying to climb is large... How can you avoid bumping your head against the glass ceiling?

As always - it boils down to strategic thinking. First of all, you need a career vision, a goal. You need to know where you want to end up, why you really want that, and what you are willing to pay to get there (in whatever currency is relevant; time, money, work, lost friends, whatever..). Then, when you know, identify all necessary career steps to get there and make a realistic plan to get there. Identify locations of possible obstacles. Typically, getting from mid-level management to top-level is hard and time consuming. When your plan is clear cut, start implementing it and monitoring progress. With fixed time intervals, ask yourself survey questions such as:

  • Am I at the level I planned to be at the current time?
  • How did I get here: according to plan, or did something else happen?
  • Are the obstacles still the same?
  • How can I go around or avoid obstacles?
And also, finally, the most difficult question:

  • Is my goal at all reachable at an acceptable cost from my current standing?
If the answer to this question is "No" - you need to rethink your strategy. You can stay where you are and be happy with it, or change the situation such that you have a feasible goal. One possible answer would be to switch to another company - or start your own.

If keeping focus is hard - you may resort to tracking numbers. Create your own performance indicators and savor those informal reviews from your subordinates as well as your managers. Always be self-promoting, but also easy going. Get the point? Good luck!

No comments:

Post a Comment