Career Progression

There is no reason why opting for flexible working should halt your career progression. In this section, you can read tips and advice about rising up the career ladder, inspirational stories of those who have made it to the top whilst working flexibly, and the latest news about women at the top.

We often feel that being a parent can hold us back from achieving our career goals. And yet the majority of successful males in the workplace have families…

As we strive for gender equality, more women than ever are achieving senior leadership roles. This is absolutely achievable alongside being a responsible and loving parent. Whatever your career aspirations, being a parent shouldn’t get in your way.

Women on boards

Recent research* found that the number of women on the boards of FTSE 100 companies has exceeded 30% for the first time – although there is still a notable lack of women in the role of CEO or chair. Some reports suggest that women lack the ‘leadership language’ that boards are looking for, even though they have the right skills and capabilities for the job.

There are, however, more women leaders in non-executive director roles than ever, at 37% – up from 16% in 2011, which is generally encouraging but there is still a distinct lack of women in executive roles.

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Achieving your career aspirations

The first step in attaining your goals is to be absolutely clear on what they are. Work out what you want and set your career objectives. Are you seeking to reach the next level, to lead your department or to become a director? Do you see yourself reaching that goal in your current company, or elsewhere?

Once you know your destination, you can work out the best route to get there. And don’t be coy about it. Most companies today realise the benefits of helping employees progress, so tell your manager what your aims are and seek support from your HR and learning and development teams to create a career development plan.

If you have leadership aspirations, formal qualifications are a major boost.

Undertaking an MBA (Masters in Business Administration) with an organisation like Cranfield School of Management gives you important leadership knowledge: but even more importantly is a compelling illustration of your commitment to career progression. If you want to improve your skills in order to rise up the career ladder, you can search for courses here.

Tips on getting promoted

Remember that it’s your career and achieving promotion is down to you. All too often we expect to be noticed and celebrated for doing a good job – when in reality that just frees up your manager to focus on the poor performers. In today’s competitive workplace, career advancement depends on you stating your desire to reach the next level, and seeking feedback on what you need to do to get there. Then, work to achieve each task you’re set and make sure that your manager recognises this progression.

You may find that an honest discussion with your manager reveals that promotion is not available to you – because there’s no vacancy at the next level or because your skills don’t match the role.

In this situation you should seek to pursue your career elsewhere. Many people find it is easier to get a new job at the next level than fight to get there with their existing employer.

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Career progression for part time workers

As a part-time worker you can often feel overlooked for new opportunities and promotion. This is more to do with the attitude of others than your performance. We often hear unintentionally negative comments like ‘she’s only part-time’ – as if part time work is less valuable.

But we must remember that it is illegal for part time workers to be treated less favourably than full time employees. If you wish to build your career, the previous steps apply – state your ambitions and be seen to take steps to achieve the next level. If you’re the right person for the job, the company must consider whether the role you’re aiming for can be performed over part-time hours.

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Parenting, transferable skills and how they help your career

Employers are increasingly recognising the value of employing parents. Being a parent hones a number of skills that are highly transferable to the workplace. Here are a few examples:

  • Staying calm under pressure. Parenting can often put you in difficult situations with high levels of urgency, frustration and emotion – where we know anger will make things worse. Successfully navigating these high pressure moments makes most issues in the workplace seem easy by comparison.
  • Negotiation. Children of all ages are very clear about what they want, and often it’s the parents job to say no. Managing this without causing any tantrums is a crucial skill that is of great value at work.
  • Effectiveness. As parents we often need to achieve our key tasks in a very short space of time. This starts when the children are very small, when we learn to maximise the time when baby is asleep to achieve all the jobs that are impossible once they’re awake. So as a working parent, we often strive harder to achieve our work tasks – to get home and enjoy some family time.
  • Leadership. Parents are very aware of their influence as a role model, and their responsibility as a decision maker for the family. It helps us become more comfortable in a position of leadership, and gives us the skills to take charge and lead when direction is needed.

Why seek career development?

At some point, busy parents might ask themselves why they are putting themselves under the additional pressure of career advancement. But it’s important not to lose sight of the reasons why you want to meet your career objectives.

First, of course, earning a higher salary is always appealing! But equally, people whose careers are developing and evolving get better satisfaction from their work. While you might enjoy your current role, doing the same job for years can be demotivating and ultimately cause us to lose confidence.

Many people seek to develop their careers to set a good example to their children. If we want our offspring to succeed in the workplace, we need to show them what commitment looks like. Talking in positive terms about work and careers is equally important.

There’s no reason why you shouldn’t achieve your career objectives. Seek support from peers and colleagues, find a mentor if you can to give you personal feedback, and go for it!

Further reading from workingmums:

  1. How to thrive as a part-timer
  2. How becoming a parent can make you an exceptional leader
  3. How to get to the top
  4. Top 10 worst excuses for not appointing women to boards
  5. Barriers to Career Progression for Women In Finance

*Hampton Alexander Review 2018

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