by Joan Burge
Employees often ask me, “How can I continue advancing my career after I feel I’ve hit a job plateau?” They also tell me that they like who they work for and the work they do, but feel stagnant. Anyone who asks that question is a go-getter! How does an employee continue moving forward in her chosen profession?
• Expand your job. A lull in your career may signal you’re ready for new challenges, not necessarily a new job. Look for projects that highlight your particular strengths—tasks that step beyond your job description but that you feel qualified doing or learning. When advancing your career, the skills you’ve demonstrated are often more important than the title you’ve held. Doing higher-level, more complicated work will expand your skill set and earn you kudos and new opportunities in the process.
Example: Monica’s new executive was a micromanager. Little by little, he reduced Monica’s responsibilities. After six months, she started to think about quitting her job. “I’m so bored,” she lamented to her sister. Her sister worked in another department and knew a lot about the company. “Why don’t you ask if you can oversee the scholarship program?” she offered. The company had an admirable program and the man who was in charge of it had been promoted and hadn’t named a successor. Monica agreed it was a good idea. Four weeks later, Monica was officially named the contact person for the company scholarship program. Later, her executive acted as though the whole thing was his idea. He cooperated with Monica fully. “Are you sure you don’t need more time to devote to this job?” he asked. Eventually, Monica posted for another position in the company and no longer interacted with this executive. While she waited for an opportunity to present itself, she got busy with something new and rewarding.
• Seek new education or training. Try to find educational opportunities that reignite your curiosity about the world and inspire you to achieve even more. Whether you pursue formal schooling or seek professional training through conferences and seminars, you’re sure to benefit.
• Ask for guidance. Perhaps a barrier exists that you can’t see. Or maybe there is an obvious way to move forward but it’s not immediately evident to you.
In either case, when you feel stymied, seek the advice of someone you trust and who understands your career aspirations. It could be your supervisor, a mentor, an HR manager or even a career coach.
• Speak up. Career stagnation can sometimes be fixed by speaking frankly to your manager about the situation.
• Move on. Of course, if none of the above suggestions work, you may want to consider whether there’s another job that suits you better. Write down all the pros and cons to keeping your current position. If the cons outweigh the pros, have the courage to begin seeking a new position.
Joan Burge, founder & CEO, Office Dynamics International, is a world-renowned administrative expert and author of four books for assistants, including her latest, Who Took My Pen … Again? Learn more about Joan at www.OfficeDynamics.com. ©Copyright Office Dynamics 2012.
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