The modern value chain of growth and exercising the power of networking
2 March 2022
- Join ACS member Shreyas Devarajan as he shares some thoughts regarding the modern value chain of personal growth within a business and the importance of taking advantage of networking opportunities.
As we have progressed from the Industrial Age to the information age companies have revamped the organisational construct overall, however, employees have not changed the ways of working within organisations. The traditional idea of growth was, 'the hardest working employee was valued the most or the smartest employee is the one who will rise through the ranks’, which is still applicable in some respects. In contrast one could consider then, why are employees with a wealth of knowledge and experience, often compensated with monetary incentives and not promotions? Why is the managerial post designed with various levels within a company? To understand this, we need to readdress the fact that ‘organisational type and organisational structure have a lot to do with the employee growth chain’.
When employees are contemplating career growth; they need to identify the type of organisation they are dealing with, which could be a small to medium scale company or a large-scale corporation. Both types of organisations have different requirements when they entrust employees with more responsibility. Whilst many small and medium scale companies claim that they have a horizontal structure, they still commit to roles and responsibilities allowing room for hierarchy.
From my understanding of the IT industry, having a mindset that would limit you from growing is ‘emphasising only on the systemic knowledge’. This usually turns out to be imperious for individuals. Usually within the management ladder companies have a 4–5-year growth plan, which if you think about is great for any candidate. As far as employees are concerned the career for anyone within a company, even if you start at the age of 25 and account for a promotion every 5 years, you have an opportunity to go through 6-7 promotions throughout your career. Giving the changing work environment it is now commonplace for the modern employee to move from company to company in search of a better work-life balance, faster growth, better pay scale, and mutual values that align with their identity. In doing so, some people will lose sight of the fact that within the corporate sector if you dedicate 3 years of your career to a firm and join a new one, you reset the 5-year clock even with one promotion. If you jump from scale A to A’ within 3 years, when you join the other company, the next promotion takes 5 more years with the other company. Moving around would entail you to a higher pay but not moving up the ladder in terms of career growth.
In the general norms companies have three pathways through which employees can grow:
1. Work hard and build trust to enable you to lead over time (periodic growth)
2. Have complete knowledge of the business and accelerate your pathway through upskilling yourself. (Most companies endorse this means of growth)
3. Network your way through to build organisational assets and leverage them (allowing scope for monetary appraisal/promotions)
Periodic growth and upskilling are traditional (think of it as a baseline) means which companies accept and employees are aware of, then how can employees break through this system? How can you add value to one’s profile and enhance your growth? If you have the knowledge, how do you grow faster?
Although there is no real shortcut, there are things you could do to enable yourself. Some ideas are listed below:
Autonomy: Being responsible for the actions for which you are accountable for at your workplace; is one of the quintessential qualities to denote trust in your employer. This is a two-way process, take up new responsibility that you know you can handle within your workplace, and ensure you deliver. Never be afraid to ask questions because that is the only way you learn, and the only stupid questions are the ones that are never asked. With that being said, always remember consistency is the key.
Influence: Be the moderator for your employer by establishing friendships/acquainting yourself with other staff. Trust as mentioned above is an important part of periodic growth. The more friendly you are, the more trust you can gain. It is always easier to manage people whom you know, as opposed to those whom you don’t.
Business skills: This is a tricky topic to address because it usually covers anything from communication to manpower management. But, primarily business skills for employers within the organization you work for; is the work process for any job. Even within the team you work, if you understand the different types of jobs which exist and how they are assigned based on the hierarchy and experience of the team members it provides valuable input (which you can learn just by watching and talking to your team). It would also show a clear understanding of how one is able to break down the complexity around the tasks that you (the team) work on.
These considerations are easy to develop and can be done without having to wait around for 5 years, in addition to supporting the reasons for a promotion. When you can showcase these skills and combine them with the knowledge area of your interest, it would be expected that one could expedite their growth.
The last topic which I would want to expand upon is, what does network leveraging means?
When companies send employees for networking events or professionals choose to go to conferences, they have an opportunity created for themselves. The power of networking is a free opportunity for individuals to learn new knowledge areas, and a platform to showcase themselves. What does this entail?
When you walk into an interview; you prepare for it by thinking of different scenarios and questions which you can frame around the position you seek. Similarly, networking events can be thought of as an open interview, the question is whether you are trying to sell the product (endorse your company) or sell yourself (find growth opportunities).
To endorse your company (get promoted internally) you need to identify what your company sells (PAAS/SAAS or other services*) and which companies are to arrive at the conference. Once you understand it, you can develop a network that could use the services your company can offer. Talking to people and getting to know their suitability and needs; allows you to find potential clients for your company. When you are the mediator for a potential ‘client’, who would want to procure your company’s services it puts you in a position to grow. On the contrary, if it is the knowledge that is your strong suit, you can aim to sell yourself. All you would have to do for this, is research on the event participants (the companies they are from) and prepare a pitch around your suitability in their firm, and make conversation.
The modern value chain of growth is based on relationships and trust. You may be stumbling upon opportunities on a daily basis and be completely unaware until you act on fostering the relationships around you and developing mutual trust and understanding between your colleagues.
Shreyas Devarajan, ACS Member