As a manager of 130-something people I often have these chats on what opportunities people have to grow within the organization. You know, with such crowd you can pretty safely assume that people do want to grow, to change their role, to get promoted. So they eventually land on a sofa in my office to discuss their future.
On one hand these discussions are always challenging. I mean we’re discussing here one’s future. That’s a serious matter. On the other most of the time I find it easy to share a flurry of ideas on where someone could push their career.
The context of organization is pretty much set – we know what we do, we roughly know how we do it and we definitely know how, in general, we want to improve it. And yet people often need a lot of guidance to show them what they can do in a couple years from now.
One thing is people often constrain themselves to just the lowest hanging fruit. I’m a developer so the next step is senior developer. Then a tech lead and then a software development manager. Oh so creative. How about business analysis, project management, product management, quality assurance (yes, this one too) or what have you?
While we are going beyond mental constraints, why not running a startup, consulting or freelancing?
Or simply doing the same thing you do and rightshifting at the same time? Do you really need a new title on a business card to feel fulfilled? Maybe you just like what you already do and the fun comes when you shift toward improved effectiveness?
One could say that having much power it’s easy to come up with different ideas but I do as I preach. I mean I consider myself a leader. My current team has, at the moment, 130ish people. The previous one had 4. Another 35. In each and every of them I was self-developing like crazy. In each role I could imagine myself in a year being in any of others as well as doing a bunch of different things. I didn’t feel constrained either by the current situation or by current organization. These things change very rapidly in IT.
When you are asked a question what you want to do in two year time (and believe me, I ask this question a lot) it’s not a question about current options in your organization but it’s a challenge to your mental constraints.
As simple as that. No one is going to offer you a project management position or their biggest software development division unless they’re convinced you will manage. You won’t convince them using your will solely. You need to know what it takes to do the job, understand different approaches and have a vision of your own path.
My wild-ass guess is that you don’t know all that at the moment. That’s great. Because I’m not going to judge anyone on their current knowledge. I’m going to judge them on their potential and their urge to learn.
With such attitude you render your mental constraints irrelevant and you don’t need to ask anyone about your options anymore. You know the answer.