Who’s really holding you back?
I’ve coached and mentored a number of professionals – young and not so young alike – about their career moves or lack thereof. It is a reality that some leaders do not allow members of their team to reach the fullness of their potential for various reasons. What I have found as well is that professionals can use some guidance on how to position themselves for greater success at work as well by doing more to step up and be noticed.
It is not the manager’s responsibility alone to recognize your ability and make you an offer of promotion. If he or she does that it is usually because you have exhibited the potential or desire in the first place. Sometimes when you are doing well in your current role, it may be assumed that you are satisfied right where you are. Sometimes managers are distracted by the daily operation and their own responsibilities so they are so happy that you are holding down your part that it frees them to deal with other things. Managers are not mind readers. It is also your responsibility to have the conversation with your boss about your career goals and where you see yourself going within the department or the company.
Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to see if it is your manager holding you back or if it is really you being your own roadblock.
1. Do you know your career goals? People that chase more money, status, and perks can end up getting those things but being in a position that is not personally or professionally rewarding. In fact, they can be downright unhappy but well paid for it. I firmly believe that when you pursue what you love and what is marketable you will get paid for it. The key is knowing what you want and increasing your value. When you don’t know what you want you are directionless and this shows up on your resume as either having a string of jobs for short periods of time or jobs that are not connected to any career path – disjointed and random. This shows an employer a lack of focus and purpose. Find your happiness and chase that, not just money alone.
2. Have you prepared for your next move? Adding value is critical to being ready for your next big opportunity. When you can say you have ten years’ experience, can your skill level attest to the growth ten years should bring, or does it reflect one year of experience and expertise repeated nine times? Something to think about. Today’s organizations need people who can add value and help them achieve their organizational goals quickly and effectively. Are you ready to do that, with both technical skills and soft skills?
3. Did you have a conversation with your manager yet about your career path? As I said before, managers are not mind readers. I talk a lot of people down from a frustrated place because they feel their manager is holding them back, not noticing their ability, and not offering them promotions. My question is always: did you tell your manager what you want? The majority of the time the answer is no. How do you expect them to know if you don’t tell them? Maybe the person they chose over you made it clear that’s what they wanted. As the old saying goes, the squeaky door gets the oil. The mediocre employee may get promoted because they said they wanted to grow and would do whatever it takes to do the job. Meanwhile, the talented people are sitting on the sidelines watching other people play the game. It’s time to step up and speak up to be noticed!
4. Have you identified mentors to support your growth? Recent studies are showing that today’s professional wants mentorship to help them develop in their careers. They want a personalized, customized learning experience that isn’t always in a classroom or training room. They want to hear victories and failures from people they admire and want to learn from.
Building a career is not done best alone. Identifying mentors and even coaches to help you stretch yourself is a key component to advancement. Think of the areas of your life and career you want to grow in. Then think of the people you believe are succeeding in those areas and reach out to them. Take them to a business lunch and have prepared questions you would like to ask them. Having multiple mentors is great because you can have different ones for different areas of growth – just like coaching. You can have a finance coach, life coach, wellness coach, career coach, confidence coach, communications coach and the list goes on. The same applies to mentors.
Confucius says, “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.” People who win are the ones that offer themselves to play and play well. Is that you?
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, personal development coach, mentor, and activist who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals ‘live limitless’ by identifying purpose & vision, aligning to purpose through authenticity, and breaking free of limiting mindsets and practices. For comments, queries, strategic solutions, and bookings, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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