The New Corporate Ladder

You’ve probably heard of the proverbial corporate ladder. It’s easy to think of your career as a linear path — you start at the bottom rung and climb your way up a series of promotions until you reach the top of the ladder.

But corporate America is changingGenerations of shifting traditional ideals broke the mold — and the ladder. More women entered the workforce, changing corporate and household norms. Employee attitudes have changed, and people now crave a stronger work-life balance than ever before.

In the modern corporate world, upwards is not the only direction you can move in to drive career success. Gone are the days of the hierarchical, vertical climb. A more collaborative, expansive platform is here. Your career doesn’t have to be a ladder… It can be a lattice. You can still climb up, but you can also move to either side, inhabiting whatever space feels the most satisfying and exciting to your career trajectory. A lattice is a literal platform for growth, supporting you in whatever direction you choose to go.

So what are the different career paths?

1. Ladder. This is the traditional trajectory most people think of when they consider the corporate direction. The vertical ladder is related to promotions, which lead to increased salary, status, and workload. It’s a vertical change that comes with increased responsibility as you move upward.

2. Lattice. Making a lateral change in your career means you’re changing your job, within or outside of your organization, but without the upgrade in pay or status that comes with a promotion. You’re still upgrading your work and job function, though… This is a great choice if you’re feeling stuck in your role but don’t necessarily want more responsibility or a change in level.

3. Enrichment. This allows you to grow within your current position or company. Often times, job enrichment is created by rotating employees around different jobs within the company, giving them specific assignments that allow them to view the business in its entirety.

4. Refocus. Sometimes, you just need to reevaluate what you want out of your career, and whether or not where you’re at is right for you. Taking the time to refocus on your career path means you’re taking a step back from your current pay, status, and responsibilities to really dive deep into pursuing a different career option. A common example of refocusing is when someone working in development decides to move to product management.

5. Relocation. This is the most literal movement you make in your career… Relocating to a different location for the same job. There are so many ways to do this, especially if you work for a global company. It could mean simply moving locations within the same city, or it could mean relocating to an entirely different country.

Organizations are changing. They’re no longer only the hierarchical, vertical ladders they once were. Companies are embracing the lattice, which provides greater career satisfaction for those who don’t necessarily see themselves climbing the traditional corporate ladder. Everyone’s career path is unique to them, and can be any mix of directional choices. Maybe right now a lattice is right for you, but you want to climb the ladder later in your career. Maybe you want to relocate now, but refocus later.