Question: Lee, how do I develop “Career Traction”? I am a 19-year employee and have had the privilege of working in several divisions of my company. Unfortunately, I have a mounting frustration with what I have termed “Career Traction.” With the inevitable job changes, transfers, and leader changes, I am continually starting over with respect to building a recognized portfolio of job skills and track record of accomplishments. It is difficult to relay to a new team member or a new leader the my companies heritage and job experience that I bring with me to the workplace. I have performed the role of leader with as many as 65 direct reports and as an individual contributor. My question to you is: How do I remain optimistic that the loyalty and hard work over the years was the right choice? The appearance is that promotional opportunities and advancement are the purview of those with external experience. What advice do you have for me?
This is a good question. There certainly were a lot of internal promotions when I was at the Walt Disney World® Resort, Marriott and Hilton. Seventy-five to eighty percent of promotions to management and to higher levels of management were from within, and we had hundreds of promotions available each year, of which the majority were internal promotions.
If you are not getting those promotions, then you need to find out why. It is unlikely that you are not getting them because of management turnover and the ever-changing management ranks because the other hundreds that are promoted experience this same thing. Our record for Cast Members joining Disney at Front-Line or entry-level positions and then moving up throughout their career was really excellent when I was there and I am sure still is. In fact, our turnover in management was just 5 percent, which shows you that Disney is a great place to work and to have a long-term career.
I would start, I think, with having a conversation with the executive who runs your Line of Business. Go to the vice president in charge of the Line of Business; or if you are in Operations, go to the profit center vice president and tell him or her your story . . . and that you would like for him or her to do some work to find out where you stand as far as your chances of future promotional opportunities. Supply the names of your last three leaders so the executive can talk with them as well. Most important of all, tell the executive that you want to hear the truth about how you are perceived as a future leader and what your future looks like as it stands right now. Tell that executive that you want to hear the truth . . . and that you can take it.
I think that the decision to stay with Disney or go somewhere else really depends on how happy or unhappy you are. If you are told that you are not on the list to be promoted and told why, then you can make up your own mind whether it is time to move on or not. Another thing to understand is that there is a lot of competition at the Walt Disney World® Resort. They have a lot of very strong, competent Cast Members who want the same thing that you want.
Another thing to consider is whether you are in the right line of work. Are you in a role where you can be and are “Clearly Outstanding”?
There is life after Disney, I assure you. I found out that there was life after Hilton, and life after Marriott and even life after Disney after I retired. In fact having my own company now is the best job I ever had. I have full authority and don’t have to check with anyone before I make a decision. If something goes wrong I am the only one to blame. I love it. The main thing is that if you are getting frustrated and unhappy right now, you need to go to work resolving this issue. If you believe that you need assistance in finding out the truth about how you are perceived and what your future looks like. I think that you can expect any of our executives to do this for you, if you ask them to.
Unfortunately, we often see our performance much better than others see it. Sometimes it is not that our performance is bad, but that it is just not outstanding; and there are other people who have more talent, drive, better attitude, and the ability to make things happen as a leader.
Over the years, many Cast Members asked me this same question. In most cases I was able to get someone to tell them the truth so they could decide to work on their areas of opportunity or leave the company to pursue their career goals.
My final piece of advice is to find a way to be happy. Being frustrated and unhappy are not good for you or for your company. Good luck! . . . Lee
Great Leaders Look forthe Better Way Every Day!!!!!
PS: Organizations that get it:
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