Sievo Culture

Welcome to a Career Playground- and Say Goodbye to the Career Ladder

Sammeli Sammalkorpi May 30, 2017

Last night Sievo was recognized as the 7th best workplace in Finland by the Great Place to Work® Institute. It was our first time in the top-10 and we saw the biggest improvement across all participants!

For me, our great people and family-culture make Sievo the best place to work. As I reflect on our recent achievements, I think they are also due to our vision for career planning. And this makes me ask: do you ever find yourself thinking about the next steps in your career ladder? If so, stop. Forget the ladder. If you’ve ever thought of taking the next step in your career ladder, just don’t. Don’t even start climbing. The career ladder metaphor creates a picture of working life that’s just wrong in so many ways.

Reasons why career ladders don’t work

  • It suggests that there’s only one way to go – up. There’s no freedom for individual to change the direction based on their preferences.
  • It defines a hierarchy, where those who have taken more steps are at higher, more admired, position than others (consider consulting companies where a senior associate level 3 is working hard to earn the promotion to become a senior associate level 4 – and to be able to dominate those with lesser seniority).
  • Getting higher requires climbing, it takes an effort. It suggest that we’re working to achieve something and does not support the idea that work itself could be fun.
  • It’s by design an individual action.

To have better working lives for ourselves, we need to have a better metaphor. At Sievo, we prefer to see working life as a playground. This suggest a working life that is better in many ways.

The benefits of a career playground

  • There are different types of equipment at the playground – but none of them is by definition better than other. Everyone can go where they feel they enjoy themselves best, whether it is the swings, the slide or the monkey bars.
  • Few people enjoy playing with same equipment constantly – changing equipment is natural and perfectly ok (think of these as horizontal career moves), though you probably have your favorites based on your capabilities and taste.
  • There’s a sense of development, but it’s not forced nor predetermined. Those with more playground experience are bound to enjoy different equipment than those entering the playground for the first time. However, anybody can try out anything (save for those who are unfortunate to have over-protective managers), and there are no strict rules who can do what.
  • To enable the point above, playgrounds are designed to be safe even if you fail. Soft surfaces ensure that nothing worse is going to happen to you than a loud cry.
  • People naturally work as individuals, form groups and regroup, based on the situation at hand. Nobody’s yelling what to do, with whom, and how.
  • And, most importantly, people go to playground to have fun.

At Sievo we play and get work done

The view on personal development takes a complete different shape with a playground metaphor. There’s no fear of  “getting stuck at certain level”, but there’s the positive option of changing the equipment, or not. There’s much more horizontal moves, and there’s acceptance that we have different preferences. And, there’s more joy.

The obvious counter-argument to this is that ‘playground are for fun’, but in business, one needs to create results. We at Sievo strongly believe that people who enjoy their work create results – and not the other way round. And that’s why we’re obsessed in creating the most amazing playground in the world.

Ready to join Sievo family in our playground? My favorite is an old-school swing – and, I hate carousels. How about you? #LoveisSievo!

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