Women in Management

by Rita Bailey

Why have a plan?

Planning is a familiar management activity. We all undertake planning in our everyday lives and management roles. Whether you are planning to hire personnel, prepare budgets or plan a holiday or a house move, you are used to planning to achieve what you want. Something as important as your career advancement is worth giving serious thought to, rather than waiting for someone to plan your career for you.

One’s prime is elusive. You little girls, when you grow up, must be on the alert to recognise your prime at whatever time of your life it may occur.

Murial Spark, The prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Before we jump into the planning stage itself, it’s important to recognise that understanding the context for planning can greatly help any woman in management to plan the route map she will use to break through the glass ceiling and get through to the next level.

Planning is a major tool in the set you will need for that breakthrough. Your plan will define exactly where you want your career to be within a certain period of time (usually five years) and how you intend getting there. Your plan is important for getting to the next level, just as having a business plan for a new business is vital to its success.

Writing this plan is a critical first step to getting started, as it establishes the future direction of success. Your plan will help you to get rolling.


Your plan won’t be allowed to sit on a shelf collecting dust! You will be referring to it daily.

Planning means setting the direction for where you want to go, so the key is to develop clear goals and establish the results you want to achieve. Setting the result – the promotion you want to achieve – and then working backwards to identify what you need to do to produce that result should generate a focused, specific plan. Your plan is like a business plan, a project plan, and it’s personal to you.

So, below is a basic structure you can use to get you started on your plan.

Questions you should ask

Consider the following questions and jot down your answers quickly:

  • What is the overall position/role or result that the plan is to achieve (for example, team leader, head of operations, VP of marketing, HR business partner and so on)?
  • Why do you want this outcome/result?
  • What strengths, capabilities, experience and qualities do you bring to this role?

These initial questions are to get you focused. Now, to help with the rest of your plan, make the following tasks part of your research.

  • Identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and the threats you face.
  • Set intermediate goals: establish goals that build on your strengths, enabling you to take advantage of opportunities, while also filling in any gaps in your experience, knowledge or skills.
  • Set strategies to reach the goals: what approach and which methods will you use to reach your goals? (This may depend on what information you already have and what information you need to seek.)
  • Set timelines for each objective (weeks or months – this is fine as long as you have a clear time line for achieving progress).
  • Who can help you and what can they, specifically, help you with? This will help you identify the exact people who will help you stay on track, keep you accountable and give you objective feedback.

Finally, remember to celebrate your accomplishments along the way. What reward will you give yourself when you succeed?

For more, see the topic on Goal Setting.