It is inevitable that at some point you’ll feel you’re a little stalled in your career. It happens to the best of us. Actually, it might even be a badge of honor that you’ve reached the level of being so knowledgeable about your current gig that it’s no longer a challenge. However, don’t wear that badge for too long. Hitting a wall in your current job isn’t something that happens overnight, nor is it something you don’t have control over.
Let’s take a look at some signs that you need to move out of your current role (or even employer) to move on with your career. Then, we can talk about how to break yourself free!
1. Promotion discussions stop your boss in her or his tracks.
If you try to talk next steps in your career, your boss changes the subject. Maybe you’re in a small organization and there’s nowhere to go (or so they say)? Or maybe your boss just doesn’t know what to do with you. Either way, you need to be able to have open dialogue about what’s next for you in your career – promotion or otherwise. Even if there isn’t somewhere for you to go within the organization, you at the very least deserve to have someone discuss that openly with you.
Ask for that conversation. Even if it’s one that is uncomfortable. Schedule time with your boss – separate from your regular status meetings – to talk about the future. Be open that growth is important to you and get the real story on where possibilities stand. If it’s not within your current organization, that’s ok. It will exist elsewhere. Besides, you’re better off knowing than spending years wondering!
2. You’ve reached the top of your “comp band” and nothing is being done about it.
Sometimes, when you’ve been at an organization for a while, you can find yourself at the top of their compensation budget for the type of role you’re in. Fear not, this can happen to talented people! What's not ok is for your organization to shrug their shoulders after telling you that your salary is maxed out without any thought given to how to handle your growth going forward.
Businesses have budgets and set up their pay structures for a reason. If you're getting a fair salary assessment and you don’t feel arguing for more money is the right approach, but you still feel stuck, get creative with what does matter to you. Is it time to change up the work you’re doing in order to change the role that you’re in? That may potentially impact that budget and compensation opportunities along with it. Might you prefer having a flexible schedule to a higher salary? Perhaps you could do the same amount of work in four days instead of five? Think through some scenarios that may work for you.
3. You can’t remember the last time you took on something new.
You can do your job with your eyes closed and can’t remember the last time you took on a real challenge in the workplace. Comfort zones can be dangerous. Even if you’re doing an amazing job within your comfort zone, you can become complacent (or even backslide!) pretty easily if your employer is fine with the bare minimum. And no one feels good coasting - even if they do a great job of it.
Take some time out to think about what you’ve not had the time or opportunity to do in the past but would like to conquer. If you’re struggling with how to identify options, connect with a friend, coach or mentor to see what you might be able to come up with. What may seem like small opportunities can make a huge impact on your existence when you least expect it.
4. You have no clue what your next move even could be.
No one ever talks about what’s next for you – including you! This is not ok. Human beings need to learn and evolve. That’s the whole point. You deserve to have goals that you are excited about, both within the workplace and outside of it. You’d be surprised sometimes how setting gutsy personal goals can impact how you show up at work. Do some soul searching to identify steps that once taken will have you feeling amazing.
Hitting a wall is no fun. You want to bring your best to your career and in order to do so, need to expose yourself to new experiences and put yourself out there. For some of us, even raising these issues within our organizations might be uncomfortable but not advocating for yourself is certainly not a comfort zone you want to be stuck in. And sometimes, even after you advocate, it's impossible to move up in your organization. That means making a move, no matter how hard that might be. Be willing to do some reflection, have the conversations and put yourself first. You may be surprised at what you uncover.