Navigate the Workplace Maze

Navigating the workplace can be tricky, especially when you are trying to figure out the best way to advance and achieve your career goals.

High performance is necessary but not sufficient to reach the highest levels of success in an organization where “what got you here won’t get you there” rings true.

For women aspiring to reach the highest level of success in an organization, career management is akin to finding a path through a maze.

Achieving Career MeridianVisually inspired by the childhood game, Chutes and Ladders, I developed a presentation called Achieving Career Meridian. The object is to provide women with a bird’s eye view of the workplace landscape. The idea is to reveal paths forward and point out what works best for women. The program also shows the “chutes” the potential obstacles and roadblocks that may lie ahead. I have delivered the program to women leaders working for Walmart, Southern Company, Hallmark, Black & Veatch, and at the Central Exchange.

As part of my Vision 2020 commitment, I recently had another opportunity to  present this career advancement program to a wonderful group of women at the law firm of Polsinelli Shughart, one of the top 100 law firms in the country. The presentation was sponsored by the firm’s Women’s Initiative Committee and was simulcast to offices in the Kansas City metro, St. Louis, Denver, and Chicago. During the presentation, we discussed six key areas of career management that included:

  1. Understanding the culture of the place where you work.
  2. Undertaking the types of experiences that develop you, provide line or profit/loss experience, and are challenging.
  3. Continually focusing on your professional development.
  4. Taking on leadership roles and demonstrating strategic leadership.
  5. Building and nurturing varied networks, mentors, reverse mentors, and sponsors.
  6. Developing your personal brand and promoting yourself and your accomplishments. According to Catalyst research, this is one of the most critical career strategies for women.

Polsinelli Shugart March 2012The attorney who organized the event said: “I heard so much positive feedback from women in our other offices. The presentation was a catalyst for some discussion after between some of the female partners and associates about some of the issues you raised.”

Another senior woman partner who attended said, “This was the best program we’ve had career development, or anything, really.”

What have you found to be particularly effective in helping you navigate the workplace maze? What has helped you reach senior and executive leadership positions?

Tell us how you’ve found your path.