Re-ignite Your Career
Without Leaving Your Company
I feel stuck,
burned out and in the dark about the big picture. I want to stretch
a little, try something new, increase my marketability--without
giving up my golden handcuffs. But I’m afraid my company will never
change its perceptions of who I am or what I can do? Is the current
tough job market my only path for growth?
If you are feeling stymied, should you assume your career is doomed
unless you move to another organization? Not necessarily. While
there may be firms whose culture and management are so rigid they
can't adjust to new ideas, many companies welcome a little
creativity and out-of-the-box logic. Before you decide to forego
your juicy benefit package, implicit understanding of "the way
things work around here," and the credibility you've developed with
your colleagues over the years, give some of the following
suggestions a try. You may be surprised by the results!
the Most of Your Current Position
you've been in one position for a while, it's easy to fall into a
comfortable complacency. To broaden your perspective and maximize
your contribution, consider borrowing the philosophy of zero-based
budgeting. Clear the decks and take an objective look at everything
you're doing. You'll undoubtedly find some of the processes you're
using were developed by your predecessor(s) to fit their
personalities or the requirements of their time. If your methods or
activities have outlived their usefulness, replace them with ones
more in tune with today's needs. While the change may be a little
painful, the results will be worth it.
of your career as a small business (Me, Inc.) and your current job
as your most recent consulting assignment. Where do you want your
business to go from here? What are your one-to-three-year goals?
Are you on the right track to reach them? Because the corporate
climate of the 2010s makes no guarantees for long-term, progressive
employment, you must proactively pursue your chosen career path
without assuming your employer will take care of you. If you think
like an entrepreneur, you can avoid corporate co-dependency and take
charge of your future.
If you have
been wanting to learn a new skill or position, volunteer for a
project within you department that will stretch your intellect,
increase your knowledge, and give you more visibility. Your manager
and colleagues may be stereotyping you as someone who can only do
XYZ. Working with them regularly on ABC may help them (and you?)
perceive you as the flexible, innovative person you really are,
while simultaneously offering you the opportunity to grow into a
more authoritative role.
Build a Better
Relationship with Your Management
to understand your manager's style, including his little neuroses
and idiosyncrasies. Does he assume people who are five minutes late
in the morning lack ambition? Even if you think that's ridiculous,
get to work a bit early. Does she worry that employees who don't
need her help are plotting to take her job? Make a point to check
with her periodically, even if her opinion isn't critical to you.
You may think going the extra mile to humor your boss is taking
valuable time you could be using more productively. But is it? Any
successful careerist will tell you there are two keys to getting
ahead: superior work and solid relationships. One without the other
just won't get the job done.
your manager for an informal performance appraisal at least once a
quarter. Inquire about how he evaluates your work versus appraisal
standards, invite positive feedback and tips on how you might
improve, highlight your successes, and brainstorm a plan of action
for new and ongoing projects.
everything politically expedient to build a relationship with your
manager's boss, because he has the real power in determining your
promotions, raises, transfers, etc. Speak to him on a regular
basis, even if it's small talk in the elevator. Send him copies of
your atta-boy letters from clients or colleagues. Make sure he
knows who deserves the credit for your ideas and reports. Use him
as a mentor, if possible. Just don't leave your boss out of the
loop in the process.
Soliciting your manager's input will keep him informed about your
progress and encourage him to invest in your future. It will also
save you from embarrassing surprises during your performance