Have you ridden your career elevator to just the right place? Are you in the job you'd hoped for? Are you poised to rise even further? If you answered yes to all these questions, you may be thinking about your next strategic move. That's a positive step, but have you thought about sending the elevator back down?In a response to a May 4, 2012 editorial in USA today, Madelyn Jennings, former head of personnel at Gannet, remarked about USA Today founder Al Neuharth. "Like few of his peers, Al believed in sending the elevator back down."
Most companies have some kind of succession planning program: an effort to identify and groom talent. The elevator metaphor is more personal. It's a leader at any level of a company lending a hand, helping a colleague think about next career steps and make good decisions. Favorite stories at Bright Horizons involve employees working their way to increasing positions of leadership - sometimes in a straight line and sometimes in paths not planned.
The straight line path runs from student teacher to teacher to program coordinator to assistant director to director to regional manager to division vice president. Stop and take a breath! Clearly, this is the path of person with great talent, but all along the way were leaders encouraging new thoughts about the next job. And the not-so-straight path has that same encouragement: a regional manger with a talent for sales, for oversight administrative work, for curriculum development leading up to heading a department. When these folks tell their stories (and these are stories worth hearing) there's always someone who cheered them on.
When you approach the end of your career, it is customary (and necessary) to plan for a change in leadership. If it's done properly, the change feels right for all parties. But reaching down and helping someone with career choices shouldn't be limited to your career end. At every level, there is opportunity to reach down and lend a hand.
Take a look at where you are and celebrate your progress. Then push the button and send the elevator back down.