This post is part of Women’s Money Week 2014.
There are companies that reward talent, and there are some where it’s more or less impossible to move up.
Companies where feedback is given and an active interest taken in career progression, and companies where people wake up one day and realise they’ve been doing the same thing for 5 or 10 years.
It can also depend on structure. In some places, the number and type of roles is more or less fixed. Creating new positions is unheard of within the hierarchy and the kinds of titles and duties available are strictly limited, unless somebody vacates their spot and a specific post opens up.
A few years ago, T found himself in one of these. It started off well; he had a good relationship with the boss, who promised opportunities for advancement. (Sponsors, not mentors, are your champions within an organisation – I now realise my boss at my first job was essentially a sponsor for me and was key to my moving up.) Initially, he was being groomed to fill a position that the incumbent was retiring from. However, when it came up eventually, it was made clear they’d rather he remain where he was.
It was probably a mix of factors: he was too good at what he did, and too valuable to lose there; the fact that he’s a bit rough around the edges, so not necessarily preferred management material; and that the company just wasn’t big on promoting – most workers stayed where they were and other top performers went elsewhere in order to advance.
In the end, we decided to go travelling for awhile and that was the impetus for him to hang on until we left. If we hadn’t, I imagine he would have started job hunting a lot earlier.