A game of chess is never won moving only forwards. In fact, sometimes, it important to move backwards or diagonally to checkmate your opponent. The queen is the most powerful piece in the game of chess, able to move any number of squares vertically, horizontally or diagonally. It is high time women realize the same analogy in their careers! The best move we can make with careers is to be able to move vertically, horizontally or diagonally.
With gender diversity getting the limelight it deserves, many companies are consciously investing in hiring and retaining talented women in the workforce. Also, career programs are on the rise with companies offering curated roles to women on a career break to entice them to return to mainstream corporate careers. However, with technological advancement, career ladders are now replaced by career lattices. According to Joanne Cleaver, a ‘career lattice’ is a diagonal framework that braids lateral experiences, adjacent skill acquisition, and peer networking to move employees to any of a variety of positions for which they have become qualified.
But with women wary of making a lateral move, they are losing out on innumerable opportunities and career experiences.
Every woman has a different journey towards professional success and it need not be a straight line always. Career growth experts and professional coaches have advocated non-linear progression for career advancement. With shrinking organizational pyramids, opportunities at the helm of many companies have disappeared leaving little room for promotion. To prepare for a senior position and find ways around the glass ceiling, it is very important that women consider lateral roles as ‘experiences of the future’.
Learn, unlearn, relearn
With a lateral role, one gains a broader perspective. With past experiences, one can bring innovation to a new role and apply past skillsets to new departments. Moreover, one can learn and master different skillsets and delve deeper into different departments. And employees moving within an organization already have the working knowledge and familiarity with organizational dynamics that could take newcomers months to learn. This kind of understanding will be crucial as the most qualified people for senior roles are often people with well-rounded experience.
Long term growth
With the rapid advancement of technology, lateral moves will help increase your marketability in the long run. With exposure to different areas of your field, it will help you highlight skills in a new department. A job in a different department or in a new company can also offer greater responsibilities and challenges, or help one avoid a dead end. Doing well in a lateral position will enhance one’s visibility and credibility making your future ready for bigger and tougher roles.
Building organizational relationships
At the lower levels, responsibilities are well defined, information availability is high and decision making is easy. As one moves up the ladder, roles become strategic in nature where information is limited and clarity is less. In such situations, formal and informal relationships become critical as we move away from well-defined processes. With lateral careers it will be easy to form relationships across departments among internal and external stakeholders and when the occasion arises, these organizational relationships will compensate for processes, information and resources.
The traditional notion of climbing up the corporate ladder is replaced by lateral moves, where change careers provide greater success and satisfaction in life. It is time that the ‘Queen sacrifice’ is a thing of the past. It is time to move vertically, horizontally or diagonally to ‘Checkmate’!
Written by Amrita Mishra – I am a Talent Management and An Early Careers Specialist in Collins Aerospace, Bangalore India. I am an HR professional with an MBA focused in Human Resources Management from Xavier’s institute of Management. I’m deeply spirited about integrating technological tools to match changing demographics, segmented talent management approach and change management. I’m a Global Ambassador for SWE 2019 and a finalist for People Matters ‘Are You in the List’ Emerging HR Leaders Award 2019