Close site search

Simply start typing to search Changeboard and then press enter

What do you need to do to get ahead?

Posted on from Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

The quest for a promotion is one of the few things that unites workers, regardless of sector or seniority. It is the focus of many employee reviews and for staff it is the epitome of recognition for their hard work and the ultimate reward.

Disappointed with career progression

A recent survey from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) recently revealed that nearly half (42%) of staff are disappointed with their career progression and feel that they are further behind than they would like to be at this stage of their career. Disappointingly, there is a tendency for individuals to blame outside influences on their slow progress, while in reality, there is a lot they can do personally to ensure they get, and stay, ahead.

CMI’s research found that while a fifth of employees accept that their lack of progression has arisen due to a lack of funds in their organisation, 9% actually blame their boss for not fighting their corner hard enough. Yet despite this attitude of pointing the finger, there are signs that employees are recognising that they could be taking proactive steps to address their slow progress. Nearly half (44%) are willing to work overtime on a regular basis to get ahead, 37% are prepared to take on extra responsibility for no extra money and 45% are also willing to consider taking a professional qualification. 

However, despite the fact that nearly a third of those surveyed (29%) believe that a professional qualification helps an individual’s ability to lead people, teams and projects, just 4% are currently studying for a professional qualification and only 12% plan to do so “in the near future”. 

Gaining professional qualifications

In an age where many people have a degree that is entirely unrelated to their choice in career, in fields where a vocational qualification is not essential, professional qualifications are often overlooked. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that investing in a qualification can pay dividends in the long-term. For example, analysis reveals* that the estimated lifetime economic benefit associated with holding a professional qualification amounts to £81,000, a figure which compares favourably to the cost of undertaking a degree-level equivalent qualification in management and leadership. 

While qualifications can be seen as a way to demonstrate an individual’s worth and help them stand out at the start of their career, the importance of them is often especially forgotten by senior managers and leaders at the top. These are difficult economic times and senior managers are operating in a world of increasing transparency, where the rules have changed and many of the old uncertainties no longer exist. In light of this, now more than ever managers need to reinforce their confidence and competence by completing professional management qualifications such as MBAs or CMI’s Chartered Manager scheme. Not only will these help them to learn theory that they can effectively apply to their current situations, but it can equip them for future uncertainties and enable them to stay one step ahead. 

High level professional qualifications can also act as a career passport, enabling individuals to more easily transfer between jobs in differing sectors. The need for strong managers will never go away and demonstrating that you have this ability, both in experience and through official accreditation, can really boost employees career opportunities and demonstrate that they are dedicated to moving on to the next stage in their career journey. 

Get yourself promoted

So next time you find yourself talking to someone who blames their lack of progression on their boss, their situation or the current climate, ask them if they are really making the most of the opportunities they have available to them. In a competitive job market it is the candidates that go above and beyond their role to get qualified and put in that extra effort who will get promoted, not those who sit around complaining that there’s nothing they can do to get ahead. 

To learn more about CMI qualifications, visit 

*Labour Force survey, analysed by the Consultative Committee for Professional Management Organisations

About Ruth Spellman

As chief executive of CMI, Ruth Spellman OBE leads the drive towards a higher skilled society, raising the standards and ethics of management and leadership in the post recession world. Her responsibilities and passion for building UK competitiveness and productivity have led to her appointments as Chair of the government’s Careers Profession Alliance and as a key sponsor on the Task Force examining employee engagement.

Ruth is also responsible for the Institute’s campaign to ensure 50 per cent of managers are professionally qualified by 2020 – a role which has seen her spearhead a programme bringing professional management qualifications into schools across the UK.  

Born and raised in industrial South Wales, Ruth’s parents instilled in her a love and respect for education and learning, and she was the first of her five sisters to go to grammar school, before going on to read economics at Cambridge University.

Working in traditionally very male dominated industries throughout her career, including the National Coal Board and National Economics Office, has helped Ruth become a champion of equality in the workplace. Prior to joining the Institute in June 2008, Ruth served as the first female chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE). She also spent seven years as chief executive of Investors in People UK (IIPUK) where she helped raise the profile of the employer-led organisation across 27 countries. During this period she was appointed Chair of the Skills body for the Voluntary Sector, in a non-executive role and was a non-executive director of Thompsons solicitors.

As HR Director for the NSPCC, Ruth was responsible for HR strategy, change management, resourcing strategy, employee communications, external communications and media relations. Her consultancy knowledge and strength resulted in new NSPCC policies which helped them to win the coveted Employer of the Year Award in 1996.

Ruth also spent five years working for Coopers and Lybrand. During this time, she worked with the Boards of six of the top 100 companies and set up one of the firm’s HR branches. Ruth has been awarded an OBE for services to Workplace Learning and was recently voted 14th out of the 100 most influential HR individuals in the UK. She has three grown up children, and currently resides in North London. She is also a keen writer and her first book, ‘Managers and Leaders Who Can: How You Survive and Succeed in the New Economy’ is out now.

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Chartered Management Institute (CMI)

Get content similar to this article

You can cancel email alerts at any time

Content by email

Thanks! You have been subscribed to receive emails about the following subjects.

Get more with Changeboard

Changeboard is a global HR jobs site, career advice resource and events platform to help HR and recruitment professionals find the perfect job to progress their careers. We're here to help you change the way you work.

Register now

Changeboard Magazine

Changeboard is read by more than 22,000 senior leaders in print and 85,000 online.

  • Get Changeboard Magazine

  • Get Changeboard Magazine
    on mobile

  • Get Changeboard Magazine
    in print

Subscribe to Changeboard today for:

  • Engaging and relevant decision-support content
  • Exclusive interviews with CEOs & HR leaders
  • In-depth profiles, case studies & insights from progressive senior HR & resourcing practitioners
  • Stimulating career advice, delivered in bitesized chunks to help busy professionals advance their careers efficiently.
Get the Changeboard magazine
Get Changeboard Magazine

Job search saved

Your search has been successfully saved.

Register or log in to manage job alerts.