Horizontal progression or lattices started to spread among employees, particularly millennials, years ago. Many individuals are working to progress their career paths horizontally instead of vertically. This raises two important questions: Is it better to move up the ladder or across it? Is it better for the companies to hire those who progress vertically or horizontally?
Vertical career progression refers to usual career growth within the same field. Being promoted from a marketing executive to a senior marketing specialist, and then to a marketing manager is an example of that progression. As for horizontal career progression, it refers to growing skills in more than one field. For instance, an individual may start working as a marketing executive, and then decide to shift to the sales department to gain more experience in selling products and dealing with customers.
Vertical career progression has always been the common career path in the workplace across the industries. However, change has been going on at a fast pace. All types of organizations (profit, non-profit, public and private) are all experiencing quick changes in various areas. Especially after the pandemic, things have developed massively, and new skills and competencies are arising everyday in the workplace, particularly in companies working on creating innovative and agile environments.
Benefits of Horizontal and Vertical Career Progression
Both types of career progression are essential and beneficial in the workplace as they will enable managers and leaders to have a wide range of skills within one department. With organizations reducing their boundaries every day due to the changes occurring–managers, leaders, and recruiters need to look at career progression from a different point of view other than the traditional one.
Employees going up the ladder will benefit their departments with their long experience and in-depth knowledge in terms of delivering their projects or tasks on time and with high quality. Even when they deal with their clients, they will be able to reflect easily using their long experience in the field. Moreover, they will be able to transfer their experience and knowledge to the younger ones via coaching, feedback sessions, and on-the-job learning.
Due to the wide range of skills, employees moving across the ladder are also vital and bring a positive impact to their departments. Despite their short experience within one field, they are equipped with a set of skills that will be beneficial to various situations. For instance, an employee who spends some time in the marketing and the sales department will have some experience not only in promoting the company’s products but also in communicating with the customers.
The marketing department can benefit from such employees in enhancing their customer outreach and passing on knowledge to others through tips or advice in communicating with customers. This can be valuable in companies trying to embed agility within their cultures. Most common types of agile environments include scrum and lean. These types of environments require flexibility, continuous problem solving and discovering solutions. As a result, both types of employees will provide lots of ideas and solutions. They will look at problems from different angles.
How Companies Support Employees’ Career Progression
According to Deloitte, due to today’s flatter organizational structures, businesses have less options for developing their employees and moving their career up the ladder. So, lattice organizations are expanding career tracks to incorporate lateral, diagonal, and planned descents as a strategy to help employees progress. They report that employees become more adaptable through career movements across organizational silos, improving their strategic flexibility.
Incorporating different options of career development will require companies to change the way their job structures, work cultures, and career development plans. However, companies will reap its sweet fruit through having more motivated and productive employees, innovative culture, better performance, as well as more flexibility and adaptability. Moreover, it will help companies face their current challenges such as high turnover rates and employees with limited skills that cannot balance the needs of today’s industry.
In the end, it is believed that even with all these changes undergoing in the world, both career paths are needed within the workplace. Employees get to choose the career path that suits their priorities and future plans. But at the same time, their choices have to be well planned and thought of because there is a huge difference between growing horizontally in a structured manner and hopping from one job to another. In the same context , companies need to go beyond the traditional linear career path and embrace other ones to be able to come up with the changes going on.
Whether you go up or across the ladder in choosing a career growth, it is important to be competent. Invite your colleagues and join The KPI Institute’s Certified Performance Management Professional course to boost the knowledge and skills on improving performance at all organizational levels. Visit The KPI Institute’s website for more information.