Reaching the apex of the career ladder by gradually getting promoted to the top is a thing of the past. From my experience as a career coach, career ladders in most organisations have not existed for at least fifteen years.Career ladders are an artifact of the Mad Men era, when you signed onto an organisation at age 21, followed the rules, were incrementally promoted, and retired with a gold watch.
But those days are long gone. Career ladders died out during the late 1980s and early 1990s, when over 85% of Fortune 1000 American companies downsized their white-collar workforce.* Downsizing has only escalated from there, however in the 80s and 90s the lost jobs were not in manufacturing but white-collar jobs, including management jobs. As companies thinned out, those leadership positions disappeared — and most haven’t come back since.
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