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Who advances professionally and who does not?

August 03, 20234 min read

The ones that move up or at least make a lot more money fall into three basic categories:

1. The lucky ones
2. The deal makers
3. The strivers

1. The Lucky Ones. They are often wicked smart, and lucky enough to be working for a selfless boss that fosters talent and innovation. They also must be surrounded by colleagues and a company culture that has a thirst of innovation. Bosses at these companies are personally secure in their own jobs and are measured in part by helping others achieve. These companies are usually growing quickly so people feel like they have real mentors with opportunities to move up or sideways if they hit a roadblock. I am sad to say that there are very few of these kinds of companies.

My experience is that bosses tend to self-preservation. They want to stay on top of the heap, so a lot of their daily effort is put into maintaining their position. It is natural to do this, there are few jobs for bosses, they have often invested years of effort to be where they are, and they lack the will and skill to otherwise stay relevant. These people need to find a way to a dignified retirement if possible. So, they like things to stay the same.

2. The Deal Makers. Those who make alliances or come to some understanding with the top-heavy boss to look after the bosses and concurrently their own interest. This works for perhaps a couple of years, but it turns against you because you become locked in a role to serve one boss who really needs you yet at the same time subjugates you.

That boss cannot let you move up because your hard work keeps them in their position as the boss. So, in this situation you will be at best, well paid but only to the limit that HR allows in the “Banding Chart”. What that means is that the boss has limits on what he or she can do in terms of your compensation based on oversight from HR.

It is a sad & funny thing at the same time, salary banding is really a perverse form of corporate socialism that keeps the masses as downtrodden members of the corporation. I promise you that none of the sr. level employees suffer from salary banding. Banding in my view is counter-productive because those high achievers who can leave for better jobs, do leave for better jobs.

The replacements hired are usually paid at the rate the last person wanted, plus the company had to pay a headhunter to find the talent! It is crazy, but lots of perversions happen in the corporate world that make no sense and would enrage the shareholders if they knew.

3. The Strivers. The strivers and innovators who ignore the politics of the status quo and tinker with software tools to create little side projects that benefit the company and build their own skill sets. This improves their resumes so they can be liberated by headhunters who put them in better companies.
I have seen strivers circumvent roadblocks put in their way by perverse bosses who had agendas that did not align with company nor shareholder goals. They made sure they got noticed by somebody above or in a different department than their boss, which protects them from being attacked / punished; because they either saved or made the enterprise money. If you need to take the path of being a striver, then only tinker with applications that save or make the company money. They are the only ones that matter.

This takes a bit of extra work. but it is worth it to your professional development. If you do not have the self- starting ambition to better yourself, work some nights & weekends, then you will easily be passed by those who do.

Successful people are generally self- starting strivers. I have noticed that the smarter & harder people work, the luckier and wealthier they are!

The best approach for strivers, is to work on a project quietly, do not waste company resources, learn from failings in a test environment so not to embarrass yourself. Best to only share that analytic accomplishment when its complete and there is measurable benefit to both you and the company. This paper will provide you with some ideas.

There are many stories of smart people who automate large portions of their jobs so they can work on projects and solutions that get them promoted instead of just being busy.

Busy does not pay very well! So be smart instead of busy.

If I can be a resource to you or help you get software or services projects funded, do not hesitate to contact me.

About Jim Burke

Financial Systems Automation and Back Office / Operational Cost Containment Leader, leveraging software tools and best practices to drive margin improvement for clients that do not have money nor time to waste.

Contact: jburke@answer-factory.com  Office 609 750 8887

Jim Burke

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