Climbing the Corporate Ladder

Early on in life, I lived in the moment. The future rarely crossed my mind, and when it did I had no plan on how to get there, and my aspirations were usually unrealistic. A prime example is my plan of having a pro football career...

Figure falling off a ladder.

I already had a job where I loved working for the franchise owner. He was only a few years older than me with a similar background. He told me I had the potential to own my own franchise someday. So, instead of going to college like most of my friends, I was going to climb the career ladder. I did climb, and in a few short years, I was offered a franchise and accepted the opportunity.

Fast forward. I found myself climbing the ladder of every company I ever worked for. The majority of my jobs ended up with me in an upper management position.

I love to train, lead, and inspire people, but at the end of the day, I was stressed out and felt stuck. I had been climbing the wrong ladder. I was climbing theirs and not mine.

I called a great friend who I worked with for most of my life. I wanted to work with him again, but I had little (read: no) experience in his field. I told him, “get me a job, even if I am cleaning the bathrooms.” I was really willing to do anything it took to get a foot in the door. He did, and my journey began: Climbing my own ladder. The owner of the company encouraged growth, even if it meant growing out of the company. I was in as vulnerable of a spot as I had been in a while. I was learning new things, making mistakes and growing as a person. It was heaven. 

“I love to train, lead, and inspire people, but at the end of the day, I was stressed out and felt stuck. I had been climbing the wrong ladder."

My takeaway from working in a company that doesn’t stifle growth:

Grow your employees to be the best version of themself first. What I mean by this is that personal development should always be the first conversation at a review. If a person cares about their personal growth, they will quickly accept the professional development opportunities you give them.

People before profits. I know we have all had it burned into our minds that X in the industry gets paid XX amount. Break that mold. Have honest conversations with employees about their wages. Pay them what they want to make. Most of the time it is going to be a number that makes them feel valued. Again, this is where personal growth plays a role in an employee moving up in pay. Offer some tips or courses that could help them align their lifestyle with their income. 

Celebrate wins, large or small. It is key for management to recognize professional wins or milestones and give employees a chance to share personal wins with the company. This is great for the culture.
Don’t hold your employees back. If they are not the right fit for you but they have tremendous abilities, make a couple of calls and get them an interview. It’s not fair to you or them to keep trying to make them fit your mold.

Gary Butterfield

Gary has over 25 years of management and leadership experience in the service industry. During this time, his focus was team training and development, and Gary has successfully helped numerous cohorts transform into business professionals. Most recently, he served a St. Louis-based SaaS company where he was part of the customer experience team. He coached investors, helping them strategize on how to best use the software as a powerful tool to scale their business and organize their company systems.

Gary is a Certified Digital Marketer by the Digital Marketing Institute and a Professional Certified Marketer by the American Marketing Association.