Moving forward with career confidence

To zig or to zag?


The traditional career path is extinct. Today, the idea of navigating a corporate hierarchy has become alien, and many of us have adapted to a more flexible, and more personal, growth strategy.


Agility is everything. At Quadmark, we actively inspire our people to craft their own careers by embracing growth, flexibility, and an intrepid spirit. Here, we talk about how this new era of ‘career zigzagging’ champions the joy of personal and professional development and share our journey and learnings as a business.

Ladder liberation

The typical career ladder lacked flex. It worked on the basis that being promoted and reaching the heady heights of management meant success. In reality, work increasingly happens across functional boundaries where jobs are more variable and roles are more fluid. Also, people’s needs are constantly changing. The ladder didn’t account for human evolution, and recent circumstances have reinforced this with the dawn of hybrid working and high speed digital transformation; it’s no wonder that only 19% say traditional jobs are the best way to organise work to meet business goals.

Shifting sands

The pandemic not only saw a fast-forward of digital adoption, but it also triggered the Great Resignation, with a record 4.5 million people handing in their notice. This seismic shift transformed company culture as more people are now demanding the option for hybrid working and a healthier work-life balance. Change is constant. In an increasingly digital world with shifting values, hierarchy and job descriptions have lost their value. It’s all about our ability to adapt and evolve.

For the love of skills

For employers, this new landscape demands a skills-based approach. 85% of HR and business executives say businesses should create more fluid ways of organising work to improve speed and swiftly adapt to market changes. Roles should be reframed in the context of the bigger picture and as part of an evolving network that blends hard and practical skills, human capabilities and untapped potential.

A fluid mindset means that employees can align people skills and passions with the demands of the business. 73% of employees say skill-based practices would improve their experience at work. It makes sense. They’re more likely to stay in a business that makes decisions based on their skills and potential.

It’s win-win. People that work in skills-focused companies are more likely to innovate and anticipate change, adapting efficiently when it comes. This sparks a sense of job satisfaction and purpose, which means better business outcomes simply because they’re aligned with their organisations’ needs.

Less climbing more zigzagging

At Quadmark, we’re proud of our eclectic team of skilled people who love what they do. They all want different things and are at different stages of their careers, and this diversity is a good thing. Over the years, we’ve always encouraged each other to shape our own success. We’ve also explored different types of progression frameworks, but agreed that rigid processes aren't our thing. We know from experience that people thrive in flat and fluid environments, so when it comes to progression, we needed to get flexible and creative. We turned the traditional career ladder into a people-led progression web, promoting three simple principles:

  1. Do what you love

    Work is dynamic and evolving. We encourage people to identify what they love and look for new areas to develop. By aligning work with their interests, they should find greater job satisfaction and purpose.

  2. Do what you’re good at

    It’s simple. When we give something our best shot, we get personal satisfaction and value from it. That’s why we’re creating a workplace that encourages people to build on their strengths to see the best results.

  3. Zigzag, don’t climb

    We champion a culture of exploration, adaptability and agility. Like a living, breathing thing, every bit of a person’s experience feeds their development of skills and knowledge, shaping their growth.

A progression for agile growth

On our progression web, we redefined what personal growth looks like across:

  1. Responsibility

    You don’t have to manage people to manage more. Increased responsibility could look like taking on and owning something new, managing a larger or more strategic project, coaching, mentoring, or leading.

  2. Expertise

    You don’t have to change your job title to build expertise. Honing skills, exploring new specialisms, taking courses, or teaching others what you know are all great ways to progress.

  3. Versatility

    It doesn’t mean you have to try new roles. Joining a new team, building new skills, working with different clients and products, or leading initiatives are all positive ways to build versatility.

Your manager is your biggest advocate

Quadmark’s people managers are vital. As advocates for their people’s success, they make sure that roles align with individual goals and ambitions. Our Development Conversation Guide encourages managers to structure ongoing conversations that focus on strengths, weaknesses and growth objectives, helping to build trust, connection and personal development. Essentially, they’re the ones making sure sure people are getting the most of their current role, and the business is benefiting in return. These informal conversations build an action plan which can be reviewed and evolved over time.

Experience, exposure and education

Our philosophy is that 70% of our core development comes from the everyday experience we get in our current roles. A further 20% of our Learning and Development (L&D) comes from exposure opportunities. This is when we can really stretch ourselves, whether that’s cross-functionally, externally through peer networks and professional organisations, or through mentor or visibility opportunities. We encourage our teams to get the remaining 10% from education and training. Our learning-at-work budget can be used to invest in role-specific requirements for the whole company, whole team, or an individual.

Moving forward

What career progression looks like is changing. Today it’s more about inspiring and supporting people to forge their career paths. Personal progress is about skills and experiences, not titles and levels. So long as we keep checking-in with our people, being their truest advocates, and adapt to their needs and ambitions, business will continue to thrive.

Listen to the audio version of this blog on YouTube.


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