Ladder VS Lattice Career Development – Is Horizontal the New Vertical?

by Laura Belyea, COO at Talivest

Supporting employees through periods of development is key to good business. Employees can evaluate professional development opportunities and use those as a key indicator throughout a job search process.

Professional development is key to continuing to grow in your professional knowledge, skills development, and career progression. Allowing employees to take some time and assess their professional capabilities, skills and where they want to go is key to employee retention. Do they want to be able to learn when working? Do you offer educational assistance tuition matching? Do you offer job rotations or leaves in absence with job security in one department enabling employees to try out other roles within your company?

Once you have reflected on this, the next thing to consider is the path of which you want to offer these options.

In general, there are two manners of doing this: 1) Ladder career vs 2) Lattice career.

What exactly is the difference? A ladder career plays into the analogy of climbing a ladder in the traditional sense. You are taking a vertical approach to your career growth and it typically builds upon your existing experience. The benefits of this approach are that your knowledge continues to grow and deepen over time, your experience grows within the same industry and there is comfort is knowing what you are doing but also slowly building on your job duties as you step up on the ladder. However, you may have limited career opportunities in smaller or specific industries.

A lattice career, however, expands much more on the ladder concept. In many cases, the ladder concept is giving way to the lattice approach. It gives into your employee’s ability to lattice their way to their preferred job within your existing company. This manner of career development does not restrict itself vertically- rather, it promotes development along a horizontal, vertical and diagonal path. It promotes development that is more collaborative and builds careers by fostering participation.

Lattice structures develop on building capabilities. By taking on a new role in the business, one can expect to broaden overall business knowledge and challenge oneself to learn more, faster and quicker. This approach contributes to increasing productivity and promoting the continued development and organizational influence by valuing career paths of all directions. By moving through the organization and not just limited to one department, this increases the ability to meet and work with many different people. By offering this continued development approach, it also matches the needs of your employees.

Why is this important? Millennials and Generation Z are looking to grow their development in positions. Various research notes that they are looking to be offered work opportunities like job rotation, and mentorship placements. This is a vital consideration to be made for your business as they grow to be the largest portion of the working population. Meeting the demands of the largest chunk of the work force is key to becoming a company which practices progressive human resources along with business savvy.

About the author
Laura’s role is to successfully support the growth and strategy for Talivest, as well as provide product support with her expertise within the HR industry. Previously posts were director of HR & operations in Telefonica, Elizabeth Arden and ICON