Career Pathways (October, 2012)
October 1, 2012
Career Lattices: Designing A More Flexible Career Path
Most readers are probably thinking: “What is a career lattice?” “Never heard of it.” People usually think of career advancement or progress as going straight up a ladder, either by replacing someone who has stepped on a higher rung or because you have gained a promotion over your competition. However, an emerging workplace model is the career lattice. Joanne Cleaver in her book, The Career Lattice (2012) states that this 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 they have become qualified.”
What does this mean for individuals and achieving their career goals? How can you adopt this trend to your work situation, use your flexibility/adaptability strengths, and acquire the skill to put the career lattice construct into play for your self? Whether you are in a rut, reached a plateau, or do not know what your next career move should be, an assessment of your skill gaps is needed before making any decision. Remember, you never know when an opportunity opens up due to organization expansion, people leaving or retiring, project development, etc. You need to be prepared to take advantage of a just opened possibility.
What are the skills needed for you to move across your organization and/or up? In addition to acquiring new technical skills, Cleaver lists two other key categories: Business and Relational and Creative – essentially part of the old “transferable skills” group, but up-dated.
- Business Skills: These can include financial, budgets, entrepreneurial, conducting meetings. In making a work move, particularly up, think of your business skills gap you need to close to link your qualifications to the next position, particularly if it is a promotion.
- Relational and Creative Skills: These can include problem solving, ability to collaborate, think outside the box, lead and motivate others. Although hard to identify and describe, these skills are essential for advancement whether over or up.
Boomers should not count themselves out of this workplace trend. However, to form your individual career lattice, you first need to change your mindset image from moving up ladder steps to weaving or braiding crossed strips moving diagonally. The career lattice concept is lifelong career development. Its flexibility and adaptability allows for personal and family changing responsibilities as well as your expanding qualifications.
Plan, focus on your goals, be proactive, communicate your desires to your supervisor and others, volunteer for projects or teams to network across organizational sections or “silos”, learn what you need to do to move ahead, and most importantly, think ahead and strategize. Your experience with career latticing can be rewarding and lead to greater job satisfaction.
In conclusion, I would like to note this is the start of my fourth year writing a monthly career column. I wish to express my appreciation to TTN for providing a platform to share my thoughts and ideas for members to take control of their own career development and progression to reach their full potential and truly utilize their talents and skills.