Get yourself out of neutral
I just finished an article for hiring managers on tuning up their teams. I talked about how to introduce change as a way to increase performance, service or efficiencies – you know, the stuff that hiring managers care about. It occurred to me that professionals who are rollin’ along in their careers, minding their business, focused on doing great work may also need the occasional tune-up. What does that mean? Here’s a story:
I received a call yesterday from Sarah – she started right out of school as an engineer for a large DoD contractor. She’s enjoyed the fruits of her hard work – she’s been consistently promoted over the last 11 years so most would consider her very successful. But, she’s bored. She’s stopped learning, stopped growing professionally, stopped being excited about going to work every day. She called me to ask – “I wonder if there is something else out there? I want to be excited about work again.” Hence, this article. Does your career need a tune-up?
Does this sound like you?
- You’ve happily accepted your cost of living increase for 3 consecutive years – I have $50 for anyone who has been in a professional role with the same company for 10 years and is not SERIOUSLY under market in their base salary. Last year we were able to get one of our hires a 25% increase in salary – not because he asked for it – but because he was that horribly underpaid for the market.
- You have been passed over for a promotion at least once in the past 2 years – I recently hired a candidate into a new role who had begun her career as an administrator for a large consulting firm. Over the past few years she has been promoted to a project coordinator and now has her eyes on a project management role. Unfortunately her current company will always see her in an administrative role and so her career opportunities are substantially limited. Today, she’s a project manager and her career has new life.
- Your performance review is consistently excellent with no growth objectives – Early in my career I had the pleasure of working for someone who I consider one of my most impactful mentors. Every year we had our annual performance review cycle. The first few years I had significant growth opportunities (I’m assuming everyone does) – I happily worked on my objectives and exceeded expectations. The last couple of years though my manager’s comments were “keep up the great work,” and “nothing to improve.” There were two things happening: 1. I had conquered that role and 2. My manager had other people who needed his time.
- You’ve taken on all the additional responsibility you can in your current role – Movement within an organization is super easy when you are new to your career, or new to a company. However, at some point you will take on all the responsibility you can horizontally and your growth must come vertically. There are also companies who will encourage you to take on all the “stuff” you can without reclassifying your role – at some point that should be a concern for you.
- You look at your Linked In profile and all of your connections work for your company – Take a look at your Linked In profile. If you lost your job tomorrow are there 12 people you could call who are in a position to hire you? Are more than 50% of your connections currently working for your present employer?
- You can do your job in your sleep, and sometimes do – After 10 years with the same company, 4 different roles and 3 reorganizations I got to a point where I could do my job on autopilot. I really didn’t have to think, engage or apply any sort of effort to get through the work day. I was bored. I finally reached a point where I knew it was time to move on – it was time to stretch my mind and my creativity again.
I’m not promoting that all of you quit your job if you’re not happy. I am promoting that you keep your career tuned up and keep your mind, skills, creative thinking and earning potential in top shape. A periodic review of where you are and where you want to go is good practice. To your Success!
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