Q: In my current position, I’ve worked hard but haven’t achieved the promotions and recognition I deserve. Although I get consistently good reviews, my manager doesn’t think of me when he assigns special projects or recommends people for advancement or management training. While I enjoy my job and the camaraderie with co-workers, I’m beginning to resent being passed over.
Can this situation be salvaged, or do I need to find another company and start fresh? Obviously, staying put would be easier, but I’m willing to make a move if necessary.
A: It’s likely you can change your situation by improving how you communicate with your manager. This will take time and effort, but if you like your company, it’s worth it. Because you didn’t specifically mention requesting more responsibility, I’m going to assume that like many competent people, you do a good job, but neglect to ask for what you want. You may be keeping silent on this issue because:
♦ You’re afraid to discuss it.
♦ You don’t know what you want.
♦ You’re assuming that through some mystical force, your manager recognizes your goals and doesn’t need any prompting from you.
Any of the above will thwart your ambition if you don’t take action to change your behavior. To get your career back on track, try the following process:
♦ Visualize what you want in the next one to three years. Identify both your best skills and those you want to improve. Think about ways to use those skills, either through a special project or via a lateral move to another department.
♦ Next, schedule an appointment with your manager to discuss your career. While it requires putting your ego on the line, find out if he thinks you have the potential to move beyond your current position. If he doesn’t, you can either decide to accept his opinion, ask for a transfer or start looking for a new job.
Probably, he recognizes your talent but hasn’t made a major effort to develop it. He may think you’re happy where you are or he may pay more attention to the needs of other, more assertive employees. “The squeaky wheel gets the grease” has become a cliché for good reason. Those employees who volunteer for skill-building assignments usually are a lot more likely to get them than those who wait and hope to be asked.
♦ Talk with your boss about the skills you want to use and build. Solicit his opinion on your strong points and those that need work if you are to advance. Be sure to make it clear that you want honest feedback. It’s important to clarify his perception of your current performance so you can measure your progress. Without an initial benchmark, it’s difficult to take credit for forward movement.
♦ Finally, set some specific goals and action plans that you and your supervisor believe will foster and document growth. These should be set within a time frame and conform to the RUMBA criteria (reasonable, understandable, measurable, behavioral and agreed upon). You also should plan to get together regularly — once every one to three months — to monitor your progress. Remember, now that you have captured his attention and commitment, you must periodically rekindle his interest. One serious discussion won’t revolutionize your communication pattern.
This process should work for you if you persist in using it for a year or so. However, if you find that no amount of targeted effort seems to increase your status, consider changing jobs. While your plan may not have worked in your current company, you will have gained some valuable experience in asking for what you want and increasing your expertise, both of which will be useful anywhere you go.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.