Breaking paradigms in career plans, three new proposals

Note published on September 13 in El Economista, Capital Humano [Human Capital] Section by Blanya Correal Sarmiento.
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The company’s CEO was truly confused by the answer that one of his managers gave him when he presented him with a promotion to a director’s position. The manager answered, in short, that this growth was not aligned with his personal life plan and that, therefore, he decided not to take it.

The world has changed on us! Not only in terms of flexibility in work schemes, but also in the expectations and interests of people in organizations, where work-life balance plays a fundamental role these days.

On the other hand, agility within organizations presents us with a structural design that is very different from the previous functional paradigm. So, how to develop a career line in an organization in which  functions do not exist and teams are organized by projects organized in light of the client’s needs?

The original paradigm of career lines inspired in the military mechanism of growth, in which your compensation package improved as you moved up the ladder as well as your responsibilities and the number of people working under you, is an increasingly tough paradigm to maintain these days and, above all, less and less useful.

The design of growth within companies now touches new definitions, in which the objectives of maintaining the motivation, challenge and the connection of people need to be resolved using new schemes:

» 1. Expert career

Positions in which mastery of a field is key for the company’s strategy are increasingly common, digital acceleration brought us an example of this, in which new and very specialized positions were created in organizations.

The challenge in this new type of positions lies in the fact that growth within it does not necessarily entail a higher level in the organizational structure, but higher specialization and handling more complex challenges to respond to the market or the competitive situation.

In this sense, expert career lines use a wider compensation and benefits band, within which the deeper levels of mastery can be properly compensated. That is, to the extent that the expert achieves better results like, for example, more specialized digital solutions that no longer require external support, their “value” within the band grows, which makes this a growth scheme in which the return on investment is clearly established.

These bands are normally designed in parallel to the bands of career positions in leadership, even leading to situations in which a collaborator has a compensation package that surpasses his supervisor’s.

» 2. Career based on critical knowledge and experiences

Traditional growth ladders often fail to prepare people for the challenges they will face when taking on greater responsibilities. This is why career designs today have a matrix structure and consist of  the intersection of key knowledge and the decisive experiences that help the person master challenges that have a greater impact. For example, knowing how to handle complex work situations, develop highly competitive markets, etc.

In these cases, career planning for a person will be based on assignments and not on positions, where compensation growth is associated to performance factors rather than to factors related to level.

» 3. Agile career

In a structure of tribes, mobile teams and projects, it is not only hard, but impractical, to design a vertical career; thus, agile organizations are challenging the definition of careers, seeking growth schemes that are based on competences, where positions are grouped in clusters focused on the client’s requirements, combining people with a high capacity for solving and developing solutions with other people who are experts in managing teams.

These careers have compensation components based on the value that the team is capable of contributing to the business; therefore, planning is no longer individual, but takes the capability of effectively adapting and interacting into account.

In all of this planning, a fundamental component is the personal life project, seeking to encompass the integral growth of people, which means that organizations today need to understand our collaborators from a much more comprehensive perspective.