The Big Missed Opportunity

growth, opportunities, organizational change, Polymaths and Multipotentialites, strategy


When we started the Thrive By Design program, we assumed that our client base would consist of creative professionals who needed help finding that next career, pivoting into a particular market, and wanting advice not only about interviewing and winning the job but also how to get off on the right foot with a new company.

Once we announced our TBD program however, a substantial number of people have come to us looking to improve their situations within their current place of employment.

This ranges from seasoned design professionals and long-time employees who have hit a ceiling and find themselves unable to migrate further up their company ladder into more strategic leadership roles, to senior designers who are unsatisfied by their new job and seeking guidance on how to adjust within their new work environment.

Now more than ever, people are having issues repositioning themselves and migrating within the company they're at.

Alarming as this failed internal migration trend may be, it isn’t surprising when I recall the countless conversations I’ve had with talent across my career as a design recruiter. Most professionals tell me they want to stay with a company for as long as possible, hoping to further develop their careers within the same work environment – but more often than not, that isn’t what happens.

One common issue these people face can be likened to a common occurrence most of us encounter growing up, namely that moment when your parents still see you, their adult son or daughter, as an awkward 12-year-old. For whatever reason, these parents can’t seem to recognize that their child has grown into a capable adult. This is often what happens to long-time employers. Sometimes, even the most well-intentioned employers still see their longer-standing employees in the roles they were initially hired for, despite that employee having built new skills and expertise.

Because of this, it can be extremely challenging for creatives to recreate themselves within a company. Many design professionals don’t know how to identify internal pathways for growth; in fact, we’ve found that most of them find this challenge so difficult and uncomfortable that they would rather leave a company than try to figure out this situation.

Truth be told, most employers want to groom you to move up the company ladder, but many don’t know how to, others don’t have the time to realize this and have that conversation with you, and still others simply don’t care. For many employers, it’s important but not urgent.

When it comes down to it, it’s really up to you to figure out how to migrate up the company ladder – but we understand. This isn’t something you can learn in design school.

One of our clients was in this exact predicament; her career was rootbound because in the last couple of jobs, each company saw her as a senior designer but nothing more. No matter what she tried to move up the ladder, they could not see her in a management capacity. Upon further analysis, we noticed patterns in her behavior: rootbound habits that had been holding her back and making her commit the same mistakes over and over.

When we started working with her, she had just started a new job that she took to tide her over, intending to find a different role when the TBD program ended. In her mind, this would just be a temporary position till the next big thing came along for her.

Within the program, she was able to validate that she was meant for management and learned which ways she was eligible and capable of moving up. Management is not for everyone and there are very different ways you need to know how to succeed there. Like many ambitious design professionals, she was already spending a large percentage of her time executing management level work but it wasn’t being seen or appreciated.

Understanding what held her back, she found where she was rootbound, and learned what her true superpowers were. In doing so, she realized what she needed to master to be eligible and viable to move up to a management level role.

She identified which opportunities were right for her and build conversations within the industry. We also helped her analyze her current situation in the “short term interim job”. Utilizing the tools in the program, she realized the viability of this job and the potential of moving up that ladder. As it turned out, the company had multiple issues that she could help solve.

We helped her identify new avenues of growth opportunity, and walked her through positioning herself for them. Thrive By Design helped unlock our client’s true leadership potential as a design professional. She’s developed solid results and now the company sees her potential and are grooming her for design management. They now view her as a critical factor to the future success of the business.

In fact, her employer is now grooming her to fast track her from her Senior Designer position to Director of Design and Product Development.

Finding new opportunities within a company is one of the top lost avenues of growth opportunity for design professionals. People seem to think that if you give maximum effort and work 80 hours a week, the company will recognize how hard you’re working. Instead, that work ethic just creates your “new normal” of how much you work on average, so you’re expected to give 120% while your coworkers are only giving 60% – which is neither healthy nor fair.

We are committed to ensuring that you don’t have to overwork yourself to be seen. You shouldn’t and that’s not the way it has to be. The Thrive By Design program will teach you how to make that change and strategically reposition yourself within a company so that your talent is fully recognized and you’re maximizing all potential growth opportunities.

Being great at designing is not the only thing you need to master to become a successful design professional. If you’ve been in design a while now and you’re doing everything you can to evolve your design career but still not making the traction you are looking to make, schedule a call with me and let’s figure out what’s holding you back. Book a strategy call with me today. 

Here’s to Thriving in Design!

Tagged: growth, opportunities, organizational change, Polymaths and Multipotentialites, strategy

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