New Year, New Job? With the Lunar New Year approaching, we are entering the peak season for career changes in Vietnam. Usually, many Software Developers are looking to switch jobs to upgrade their salary, title and responsibility. And the most familiar career advancement path is leveling up vertically. But what if there is another approach?
During a recent talk show event arranged by Facilitated Work Hub, Front-End Developer Ms. Thao Le was invited on stage by colleagues to share her story. Because it’s an inspiring tale. Dealing with courage, ambition and pro-activity in a flat organization, where embracing individual initiatives is part of the culture. Let’s take a closer look.
Challenges with vertical career growth
When mentioning a career path, your immediate thought is a ladder — preferably climbing it upward. As a Software Developer, climbing the corporate ladder, the next step up usually includes middle management and non-technical responsibilities. Managing others may not feel right for a passionate Software Developer eager to develop and innovate.
Below are some potential challenges to enjoying work in a vertical hierarchy:
- Less opportunity for open communication and exchange of ideas between employees and leadership.
- In a vertical hierarchy, there may be more competition for promotions and limited opportunities for advancement.
- More rules and procedures in place, with less flexibility to get things done quickly or ´out of the box´.
- In a vertical hierarchy, employees may experience a lack of autonomy, staying more reliant on supervisors to take initiative and make decisions.
Some benefits with vertical growth do also exist, such as a clear chain of command and more opportunities for specialization within the same role. It’s worth noting that, if your passion lies outside of your current scope of work, opportunities could be limited. Like in Ms. Thao´s case. So, back to her.
Which career triggers you?
Thao had wanted her position as Talent Acquisition Coordinator in IT. After a couple of years, though, the tasks started feeling repetitive. On the desks around her, senior developers seemed more at ease, more at home in their profession. In the flat structure at Facilitated Work Hub, with constant interaction and sharing, she gained insight into their technical roles.
Thao had been around computers a lot since childhood and was curious about technology through her mobile gaming. «And I thought developers were cool people! They had this focus on achievements that I admired, » Thao recalls. «Also, I find it easier to deal with machines than humans, ha ha!»
What is flat hierarchy?
In a flat company structure, there are few or no levels of management between the CEO and the employees. This structure emphasizes a work environment with tighter collaboration, more autonomy, faster decision-making and higher agility. Flat hierarchy is widely practiced in some Nordic countries, especially Norway, and famously in a few successful mega corporations like Google and Spotify.
Benefits of a career path in a flat hierarchy
- Fewer levels of management should create more opportunities for employees to take on additional responsibilities and thus advance in standing within the organization.
- A flat hierarchy may encourage open and frequent communication between employees and leadership, fostering a sense of teamwork.
- Decisions can be made more quickly with less bureaucracy to navigate.
- A flat hierarchy may heighten employee satisfaction through staff feeling more empowered, trusted, appreciated and listened to.
Developing your career path, Step 1:
Show interest in the role.
Without any master plan in place, yet Thao started watching videos on YouTube on how to create HTML websites. It looked easy. She could do this. A senior developer at Facilitated Work Hub, Mr. Tu, noticed her newfound interest and suggested a Udemy course about web design and programming. «Without anyone knowing, I entered the course, » Thao says.
Developing your career path, Step 2:
Master your skills.
«The more I learned about coding, the better I liked it. The feeling of mastering. Making something concrete. » For a full year, she studied programming by night. After having coded a web-based dice games, which turned out to actually work, she made up her mind.
Developing your career path, Step 3:
Be open and talk to your managers.
«I asked my managers to become an intern in one of our co-employer development team. As this doesn’t happen in other companies, I told myself not to get my hopes up. The CEO was surprised, but straight away took me seriously and wanted my CV. And the CMO encouraged me to stay within the flat hierarchy of the Facilitated Work Hub ecosystem. They are not judgmental bosses concerned about background, they are open and cool. They presented my CV to our existing co-employers, and soon I learned that AKVA Group would give me a chance! »
Developing your career path, Step 4:
Take the leap.
«I had studied web programming and aimed for a web team … but apps sounded more interesting. I use my phone more than laptop, right? So, it was amazing for me when the CTO in AKVA gave me a spot in the mobile team. And right away, he designed a clear career path for me. It was a dream for me then, and every day since. » Thao waited to announce her career switch until it was done already, taking family and friends by complete surprise.
– Could this switch have been done in a vertically run company, Thao?
«I did not feel any ´hierarchical pressure´ when asking. I think flat hierarchy is great, making the company treat everyone equal. When I switch teams, they are all really friendly to me and help me a lot. »
Developing your career path, Step 5:
Add value to your self-development.
Now, one year into her fresh developer career, Thao experiences happiness at AKVA through this sense of achievements and satisfaction: «Development to me, is like a house with many rooms. The rooms are problems waiting to get solved, and it’s SO satisfying to close each door with a key. It’s tangible. Concrete. »
Thao admits that her excellent English skills have been a «mega advantage» when entering the world of coding, pointing to the wealth of courses and books available. She’s now learning Flutter at Udemy, to «contribute more», and reads every night to widen her scope. Her book tip is the Swedish statistics gem Fatefulness, which has changed her perspective of the world through accepted truths being picked apart. Perhaps a bit similar to perceived fixed career trajectories?
Where sideways means upwards
We wish Thao continued success at Facilitated Work Hub, where employee self-development and individual career progression is widely practiced.
As you ponder or continue your search for a new career in 2023, we hope Thao’s story has inspired you to consider carving your own career path in a flat hierarchical organization.