If you ask people what are the paths to promotion in an organization, most of them will cite the managerial path (vertical promotion from the base level to the managerial level). Some will also cite the professional path (horizontal promotion within the same organizational level). No one will mention promotion to depth, a very important path.
In or out
What is promotion to depth, and why is it so important? The third promotion path refers to movement from the outskirts of an organization to its center, where the organization's center is not defined quantitatively as expressed in a job or rank, but qualitatively, meaning becoming part of the foundations of the organization (to be in).
Promotion to depth takes place simultaneously with one of the other promotion paths, or as a path in its own right (for example, a secretary who stays in the same job, but advances to the core of the organization). It is relevant to all employees, from the most junior to the CEO, at any given moment. The importance of promotion to depth is critical, because it gives the promoted employee a dimension of power in the organization, without which there is very little ability to exert influence, even for members of management. For example, the status of a VP who does not manage to advance from the outskirts to the heart of an organization will be inferior. He or she will not be taken seriously (even by his or her subordinates). He or she will be unable to lead measures, and the chances of succeeding in the job are effectively non-existent. In contrast, deputy CEOs with two or three years of experience in the labor market are likely to get far more appreciation and influence, despite inexperience and enormous professional gaps in comparison with the VP, not to mention the enormous gaps in salary.
Why is this path a secret? In contrast to the other two paths, the depth path is very amorphous, difficult to plan, and far less measurable, so it is seldom spoken of. It is a prolonged promotion process with no seniority (no one will tell you, 'They promoted you just six months ago, wait patiently for two years'). It is mostly informal (no one will send an email to the employees announcing, 'Dan advanced another step today to the center of the organization'). It is also distinguishable from the other two paths in promotion strategy. No one can push themselves into the center of an organization; you have to be accepted to it, which means that neither aggression, flattery, nor any of the other pushing strategies used by people for managerial or professional promotion will help.
Personal or professional
The necessity of being accepted to the core of the organization is what makes the promotion to depth path far more personality-dependent than the other two paths. This situation also enables junior and less professional employees to penetrate the center by utilizing their personality traits and interpersonal skills, while very good professionals are liable to remain on the outskirts, despite their professionalism (and seniority).
Besides the advantages of the depth path, however, it also has a significant drawback. In every move between organizations (or between divisions or companies within corporate concerns), the entire path from the outskirts to the center of the organization must be repeated. In the other two promotion paths, there is no necessity to go back to the starting point each time; people can more or less continue on from the point they have already reached., even if they sometimes must move slightly backwards and compromise on the job. The good news, however, is that someone who succeeds in advancing to depth in one organization will probably succeed in doing it in other organizations, just success in advancing in one organization on the managerial or professional path also predicts promotion in the next organizations.
The organization or the employee
How do we know that we have progressed to depth, and whether this promotion path depends only on the employee? Promotion to depth is reflected in a higher evaluation (even if the actual performance did not materially change); less opposition and fewer conflicts with superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; a quicker ability to lead measures and changes; more influence; and a stronger status in the organization. On the other hand, the difficulty in advancing to the core is mainly the result of the organization and its culture, not because of the employee. The most prominent example of this is the transition from the business sector to the public sector and vice-versa. These transitions often involve great difficulty in obtaining promotion, even for people who accomplished it with no problem in organizations in the sector from which they came.
At the same time, the ability to improve promotion to depth capabilities is fairly limited, because it depends to a large extent on the structure of a person's personality. Abandoning this path, however, incurs too high a price for a career and the value of the brand, and it is therefore worth the effort. Good luck.
The author is a labor market expert
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on April 19, 2019
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