Friday, June 4, 2010

Is Your Name on the List?

When the second to last episode of Lost aired recently, the blogosphere was abuzz. Jacob crossed Kate’s name off the list of his potential successors because she was now a mother. He assumed (possibly incorrectly) that she would no longer want the job. Even in the fantasy world of Lost, there appears to be a glass ceiling.

What fascinated me even more than the possible discrimination was the fact that there was a list.

Jacob stole a technique from Corporate America. He identified candidates to be his successor and created a list – written in chalk in a cave.

Managers and executives make all kinds of lists. Promotions aren’t spontaneously decided; they are planned well in advance using candidate lists. There are lists for management candidates, executive fast-track candidates, and more. It’s a great technique to help with succession planning and manage skills. But it’s also a technique that leaves behind a great number of employees. Be assured that if your name isn’t on the list for an opportunity you’re pretty much out of the running.

What’s worse than your name not being on the list? Having your name crossed off the list.

Even though Jacob responded that it was “just a line of chalk in a cave,” when Kate asked why her name had been taken off the list, I would argue that it’s much more than that. When your name is crossed off the list, you need to fight three times harder to get it back on.

Then again, maybe if your name gets crossed of the list you’d be better off somewhere else anyway. What do you think?

13 comments:

KarenG said...

Great Friday post once again! Who doesn't have a list? I've got one, my sister does, too. It's a social list. Why shouldn't corporations have one for filling positions? It's how the world works. This is why EQ is so much more essential to success than IQ. I went to my son's h.s. graduation this week and when the class president spoke, I thought That guy is going far in life. He exuded high EQ. When the valedictorian spoke, I thought, Hmmm, not so much. In other words, just those bits of exposure to two Senior speakers, told me which one I'd put on my hiring list to start with.

One Womans Eye said...

The lists aren't going away. Some variation of the list has been going on since the beginning of time.

If your name has been crossed off, I suggest moving on. Once a decision like that has been made, very little can be done to reverse it internally. But you can leave....hopefully to a place where your name is back on the list and much closer to the top.

Anonymous said...

I guess too many years behind a desk prepared me to be a road warrior. Life on the road has it's ups and downs too, but work behind a desk again? I can't imagine it. Plus, it broke at least one ceiling and put me on the list - if I were willing to travel they were willing to pay me more. As a mom, I waited to even entertain the idea of so much travel until my daughter graduated from high school. I work with guys who have small children at home who risk everything to travel though - I don't undstand it. Bars from "Cat's in the Cradle" run through my head when they tell me how their child cried to see them leave again...

stan love said...

How do I know if I am in the list?
thanks
Stan

Beverly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beverly said...

I've been on a list (past tense). If you ever make it onto a list, for goodness sake, HOLD ON! If you ever "slip off" the list, I agree, move on. Move on IMMEDIATELY.

In terms of making the list, I realize performance is essential. Does anyone have any other ideas about factors - aside from performance - that help one to "make the list?"

Colette said...

Karen, great point about how much you can tell from a single speech!

One Woman's Eye and Beverly -- I agree! Once your name is crossed off the list it's time to move on.

Anonymous - you give a great example. Turning down jobs where you need to travel is one really good example how people lose their place on the list. There are others, including taking a long leave, or otherwise joining the 'parent track'.

Stan, first you need to know which list you want to be on -- promotion? manager appointment? executive fast track? etc. The simplest way to find out is to ask your boss. Many won't come right and tell you, but you should be able to get a good idea where you stand.

Anonymous said...

Co, I think the femminists are taking this glass ceiling thing a little too far once again and are missing the real point.

“Just a line of chalk in a cave" was one of the funniest lines in TV history. Thats all.

hmy

Anonymous said...

Great article... timing is perfect. I've been trying to change career paths for a while, and recent events have shown that I'm definitely not on the list. It was so obvious that some of my team mates actually expressed their surprise at how much I was snubbed. Since then I've been given the opportunity to be seconded to another team for a while and I'm grabbing the opportunity with both hands. Apparently my managers only remember I'm valuable when someone else wants me though, because I've had a huge battle to get them to approve it. Now I just need to convince the new team that I'm worthy of a place on the list.

Colette said...

Anonymous, sounds like you've got a good plan. The good news is - managers come and go.

SteveB said...

Aside from an outright promotion, (level, position, mgt, etc) one way to tell if you or your colleagues are on the list (or a list) is the assignments received. The more challenging, those opening new areas, those with more exec exposure, those the require a degree of "delicacy", definitely indicate a "list" person OR you could just be being used to further your manager's career.

KarenG said...

If I may make one more comment. Just reading everyone's comments here are taking me back. To when I was quickly put on the list. Oh what a great feeling. You're on top of the world. Promotions come so easy. People are amazed at how fast you moved up. Then when I was just as quickly removed from the list. You're right-- it's a horrible feeling. And there is nothing you can do to get back on. It's easier to get on the first time than to get back on after you've been removed. So yes, I wholeheartedly agree with those who say, Just Move ON!

Anonymous said...

In small, family-owned companies the "list" excludes anybody who is not a family member or a very close friend of a family member. In this case, blood is thicker than competence.
There’s also the Black List. Those are people that managers don’t like (for any silly reason that they can think of), People on the Black List will be laid off first, or become chief scapegoats, depending upon the mood and convenience of the manager. If you suspect that you’re on a Black List then move on as quickly as you can.