How to Survive at Work…
when there’s no Promotion
Make Do and Mend
The economic climate has resulted in big-time business belt-tightening. Employees have found themselves propelled from workplace abundance to career scarcity. Gone are the liberal littering of business-related expenses, overtime boons, bonuses (well for most of us!) and opportunities for advancement.
In their place has emerged that great old spirit of Make Do and Mend.
Overtime? Do it in your own time.
Expenses? Take your own squash and sandwiches.
Bonuses? Cough… sorry, I just choked on my homemade sarnie.
Promotion? Yeah, well we’ve talked about that. We’ve decided that we’ll just ask you to do more while we pay you the same. Now type up that report… and wash those windows while you’re at it.
And there we have it… the world we live in today.
But there’s no point in getting all huffy over it… after all, it is what it is. To paraphrase Francis of Assissi, it’s time to have the courage to change the things you can and the serenity to accept the things you cannot. But how do you get that courage and serenity? How exactly do you survive at work when there’s no opportunity for advancement?
Steps to Survival:
Step 1 – Take Stock
Start by reflecting on your career goals. Where do you want to be in ten years time? Start from there and work backwards… what skills do you need to develop, what strengths do you need to build and what weaknesses do you need to overcome?
Once you’ve got that sorted, it’s time to take a good look at your current job. Are you able to start your journey from where you are? Even if it’s just taking the first step… is there an opportunity for you to do that from your current job?
If there is then what are you doing reading this? Get on with it! But if it’s not enough for you – or there’s no opportunity for even that first step – then it’s time for you to weigh up your options. It’s time to decide whether you need to move on.
Step 2 – Focus on the end goal
We’re human… we want it all now. Work hard and save? No thanks, I’m okay… I’ll skip that part and take the mansion now please. This mindset can be particularly powerful when it comes to our careers. It can be difficult to imagine yourself ever being a manager if all you’re doing is shifting boxes all day.
That’s why you need to shift your focus.
By all means think of today, but keep your main focus on the end goal – the role that you want. By keeping your focus long-term, your vision for making the most of (and putting into context) whatever sits between where you are now and where you want to be, becomes quite clear. It’s a little like when you first learn to drive. At first, you keep your eyes just beyond the car. The problem with this is that you don’t spot the obstructions (or opportunities) that lay ahead until it’s too late. As your confidence builds, you shift your focus beyond the car bonnet to the furthest point on the road ahead of you. All of a sudden, your awareness explodes… context, opportunities and barriers flood into your vision, ensuring you’re adequately prepared for the journey ahead.
A similar change in focus will also benefit your career journey, which brings me to…
Step 3 – Exploit current opportunities
It doesn’t matter what you do for a living, you will be surrounded by opportunities to help you on your career journey. Think back to the box shifter in the last step who wanted to be a manager… it would be easy to simply assume that there’s no way that box shifting could ever help you on your mission to become a Leader.
But it can!
What qualities and skills does a Manager have? Yes, they need to be able to manage people. But they also need to demonstrate integrity, taking responsibility, decision-making, influencing, problem-solving skills etc etc. Do you see where I’m going? The box shifter might not have the opportunity to practice managing other people, but I bet he/she’s surrounded by opportunities to develop, test and perfect those other skills.
Identify the opportunities that surround you right now… and exploit them to help you further along your career path.
Step 4 – Enjoy it for what it is
Last, but not least… enjoy! Okay, so you might not have any promotion opportunities. But at the same time, you might have wonderful colleagues, a rewarding role, a wonderful boss or interesting customers.
It’s easy to overlook such simple gifts when you’re sat frustrated at the lack of career progression. So, while you remain where you are, make the most of them – whatever they are.
Have fun, laugh and enjoy what you’re doing for what it is… rather than being frustrated by what it is not.