“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” – Well.. I’d love to be boss… Either way, there are probably a lot of thoughts that employees are thinking about. The vertical career carries a lot of prestige and is often associated with great success and income. But in times of agility and flat hierarchies, there are far fewer management positions and so agile personnel work is established, which must establish an agile career in the company. But what is it?

Agile career? So what exactly is it? (own presentation)

Agile career

What is a horizontal career and is it also an agile career? Career Bible says: “The horizontal career or professional career is characterized by the subject-specific development.”

The problem becomes clear in Computer Week: Not everyone wants to be a manager and is interested in spending time with budgets, employee interviews and corporate skirmishes. Especially in the IT environment, there is a need to grow on technology and project topics and to position one’s own competence in the professional world. Conversely, not every professional employee is predestined to be an outstanding disciplinary leader. This should be recognized by the manager or the employee himself. This can easily lead to frustration, because there are no other ways of ascending. The employee is then an internally recognized, but not an officially recognized expert in the company.

But what does that look like? There is a small example in the PM blog:A career ladder for project and program managers might look like this, for example:

  • Project Team Member
  • Project Assistant
  • Junior Project Manager
  • Project Manager
  • Senior Project Manager
  • Program Manager
  • Project Management Executive / Project Management Officer

Agile human resources

But why does the topic become so relevant and why is agile personnel work necessary? This can be described in 2 words: Flat Hierarchies. As Andre Häusling says in Computerwoche:: In agile companies, there are significantly fewer management positions with disciplinary personnel responsibility. For this, there are more roles that require professional management of the employees. The manager’s lead span is increasing, the leadership is changing. However, the decisive factor for the employees is always the question of perspectives. They combine leadership with more pay and often see it as the only way to make a career. In the sense of the agile mind set, however, the success of an employee can no longer be measured by how many people report to him.

But what is the problem? It all sounds simple! This is how the PM blog sums it up very well: What sounds so simple and perhaps logical is in fact a profound change in organisation and culture that must take place in companies. And, as is so often the case, top management must demonstrate this change, actively support it and also “punch through” against resistance.

Reading tip: Articles on agile HR

So there is a lot of work to be done on agile personnel work and there is a need for a cultural change in people’s minds. It will not be easy as an HR department to design and promote an agile career and to inspire people to do so. Especially when more and more experts are needed in times of digital change, such a career must be firmly anchored in the minds of employees! A best practice could be a permanent change of roles here. Maybe I’ve been a team leader for a few years and then I’ll be a specialist again to become a team leader again, or I want to be calmer and just be a developer for a few years? There are certainly numerous approaches to an agile career. What are you aiming for?

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I blog about the impact of digitalization on our working environment. For this purpose, I present content from science in a practical way and show helpful tips from my everyday work. I am a manager in an SME myself and I wrote my doctoral thesis at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg at the chair of IT Management.

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