The way forward

The end of each year sees a welter of newspaper articles assessing what has happened and looking forward to what will come in the next 12 months. Individuals are no different. Now is the time many people do a personal audit and review where they want to be in the next year.

Research by Deloitte shows that 80% of employees are planning to stay put in the next few months despite almost a third feeling dissatisfied with their jobs. One of the reasons is concerns about the jobs market, but the latest Office for National Statistics figures suggest it is picking up, even if there is caution all round about being too optimistic.

The main reason people are dissatisfied in their job, according to Deloitte, is lack of career progression. A recently published report claims that women middle managers in particular feel their career path is blocked. The report, ‘Focus on the Pipeline: Engaging the full potential of female middle managers’, is based on research commissioned by talent management and resourcing solutions provider Alexander Mann Solutions, and women in business specialists everywoman. It suggests more than half of female middle managers feel that career progression is harder for women than men, with 43 per cent saying they are likely to leave their current employer in the next two years.

The aspects of work that female middle managers were least satisfied with were the lack of opportunities (48 per cent), the likelihood of progression (47 per cent) and the clarity of career path (40 per cent).

Flexible working
Part of the problem is clearly institutional and down to organisations to address, but there are many things women can do themselves. For instance, if work life balance is an issue, there are ways of enhancing your chances of getting the kind of flexible working which can make that more possible. Whether that is flexi hours. some homeworking or part time hours, it is vital to make a good business case and to have a fall-back position which you are prepared to accept even if it is not your ideal. Think through carefully what you could make work, what is your absolute bottom line and how working in this way adds value to your company plus how you can overcome any potential problems they might think this way of working throws up. If they are still dubious, suggest a trial period with a proper review at the end in which you can show them how it can work.

Other ways in which women can take more responsibility for their own career progression is through grasping opportunities rather than mulling over all the potential drawbacks. Countless HR people mention that men often go for a job when they only have 30% of the qualifications listed on the job spec, whereas women won’t think of applying even if they meet 85% of the specifications.

Networking with other women who have been there and done it – whether inside your own organisation or outside it – is also useful and can give you the motivation and some ideas about how to move forwards. Reading case studies of how women have progressed in your industry is also useful. Everyone comes up with their own solutions that works for them and their situation. Networking and talking to other women in business can also give you the confidence to promote yourself better instead of waiting for your talent to be recognised, as many women do.

Self employment
If career progression within an organisation is not for you and you want to strike out on your own, now is also a good time to think through all your options. Workingmums.co.uk’s Business Zone has a host of articles on how to start and grow a business and some useful and inspirational case studies, which show both the ups and downs of working for yourself. Workingmums.co.uk’s Franchise Zone has similar information for those who prefer to start a business with the security net of doing so within an already tried and tested format.

So to start 2013 as you mean to go on, it’s worth sitting down and reviewing what you have done in the past, where you want to go and what is holding you back. Good luck!





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