Horizontal and vertical career growth: fundamentals

A horizontal and vertical career growth plan presents two internal promotion options that can help your business’ talent retention strategy....
13 September 2022

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Horizontal and vertical career growth: fundamentals

A horizontal and vertical career growth plan presents two internal promotion options that can help your business’ talent retention strategy. The growing demand for new professional development options within organizations is associated with the evolution in the perception of investment in human capital.

This fact raises a new horizon in which companies are increasingly aware of the importance of a framework of action involving their employees and even the teams themselves seeking to take greater responsibility for their careers.

What is horizontal career growth?

The horizontal career growth plan is a way to progress in the job through specialization but without changing positions.

Usually, when we think of career progression, we refer to a vertical, hierarchical movement that does not lead to a job with more responsibilities and higher pay.

Horizontal development, however, offers the possibility of progressing while maintaining responsibilities but increasing competencies and skills through career plans aimed at improving skills and competencies.

Thanks to this strategic and innovative business development, these two closely related aspects can be deployed:

  1. Improve the organizational structures of the company.
  2. Enhancing the capabilities of the teams.

In this way, horizontal development becomes a talent retention technique and transforms teams into true experts in their work areas.

Desarrollo horizontal y vertical en el plan de carrera profesional

What is vertical career growth?

A vertical career growth plan focuses on a hierarchical process by which an employee moves to a higher-ranking position than the one they hold.

Traditionally, it has been one of the stimuli in the talent retention strategy and has been integrated into the professional development plan of organizations as one of the most important goals.

However, it has often been frustrating to wait until there is a vacant position in the organization to apply for. This waiting creates apathy in workers who may start looking for a place in another organization.

On the other hand, the vertical growth paradigm favors the development of horizontal careers, especially in sectors that demand flat structures.

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Fundamentals of the evolution of horizontal growth in career planning

As we have already mentioned, many companies are changing from vertical internal promotion based on hierarchy to horizontal career growth, an expansion supported by the evolution and training of employees who also improve their employability.

This process has an added advantage: cost reduction both in the optimization of human resources and in the simplification of structures.

This transition also brings a highly competitive value to organizations since, in the face of the increasingly rare internal promotions, other differentiating elements come into play that attracts talent:

  • Learning and training opportunities.
  • Greater autonomy in time management.
  • Teleworking options.

In this way, teams increasingly value the challenges towards the satisfaction of the organization’s goals, allowing them to gain competencies and skills. All this is boosted in projects that, for example, favor family reconciliation without renouncing the development of the person’s career plan.

Even so, the success of the process lies in the involvement in the improvement process of the employee themself, who will have to deepen their knowledge and accumulate experience, tracing the path of professional growth in line with the needs of the company.

Fundamentals of career planning

Implications of vertical and horizontal career growth in companies

In both cases, vertical and horizontal career growth, the company must be able to provide workers with the means and resources they need to meet the objectives of the professional career plan.

If there is one thing that both types of development have in common, it is the need for training and qualification of the people participating.

In the case of vertical development, the person who is going to hold a new job position leaves behind one in which they have the experience to assume new responsibilities that require a period of adaptation and training so that the promotion is not a failure.

If we are talking about horizontal development, training and qualification programs are its foundations.

All this implies that the company, aware of its needs and the impulse it wishes to offer to its human capital, must invest time and money in planning, programming, and analyzing its professional development plans. At this point, in addition to investing in qualified Human Resources personnel, technology plays a crucial role in helping to reduce the costs of the transformation process.

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