Unlocking Development Through Non-linear Career Pathing

October 04, 2023 | 379 Views

Unlocking Development Through Non-linear Career Pathing

Damian Hanft

CHART President | Vice President, Talent Experience | Inspire Brands

I love having conversations to hear about people’s career aspirations and personal goals. However, I’m often bothered when the conversation starts with me asking “What are your career goals?” and the response I receive is the title of a specific position, such as District Manager, Training Manager, etc. So, then I ask what is it about that position that excites them and why that position vs. any other. The common responses include more responsibility, leading a larger team, a higher salary, and so on. So, I flip the question and counter their response with, “So, if I gave you more responsibility, or had you lead a larger team, or increased your salary without changing the title, would you be satisfied?” And you can go on with “why” based questions to peel back the layers of the onion even further.

Compass of SuccessI share this because so many of us are conditioned to think about career advancement in terms of a position title versus the attributes that we desire. We are fixated on this idea of linear career pathing, which is bad for both our organizations and employees. However, if we flip the paradigm and begin to encourage ourselves and employees to think in terms of non-linear career pathing, we can become more agile as organizations, while encouraging our employees to better align their personal interests with organizational needs.

Once you can break through and shift to thinking about career growth in terms of non-linear career pathing, or as preparing for positions that do not even yet exist, you can truly unlock development. Oftentimes, learners don’t fully know what is motivating them in career growth, which acts as a barrier for being able to create a development plan that will get them to their goal. We should be using a compass for careers, not a map.

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Comments (1)

  1. David Onderlinde:
    Oct 05, 2023 at 12:22 PM

    This is so true, Damian! Very thought-provoking and it challenges the traditional understanding of career growth. This should be a guiding principle for many team members and organizations.