Ladders Visible and Invisible

Yesterday, in a version of Walkshop I, one of my participants said a comment that resonated with me. She said that a lot of her new-hires or prospective hires ask about “career ladders.” They want to know whether “career ladders” are available in her organization and on her team. She told me that she often tells them “you make your own ladder.”

That’s exactly right.

I suspect a double-motivation exists for the question. One is the obvious–can I move up? The other is probably less so–I know I’ll able to go up each rung.

It’s that second motivation that is the most dangerous. It smacks of entitlement, expectancy, and assumed privilege.

Career ladders are all the rage. I understand that. I only ask that you exercise caution in providing information about them. Don’t accidentally and unknowingly fuel someone’s expectations. Have a honest conversation about the challenge of climbing the ladder.