Every one reaches a point in his/her career when the possibility of a further advancement is minimal. This used to be a concern mostly for those who are nearing retirement but new trends show early career plateau.
Early career plateau, a situation that occurs when opportunity for promotion stalls at an early stage of one’s career is now very common. New business models requiring leaner organisation structure, emphasis on employability and continuous learning, un-abating economic challenges are some of the factors promoting early career plateau, making every one prone to this phenomenon regardless of age or length of stay at work. Others factors include inappropriate abilities or skills, flatter organisation and slow company growth.
Employees now find themselves stagnant at a time when they do not expect. For some, it takes years before they realise that they have plateaued. This could be very hard to deal with especially when there is no external support.
Constant ability to adapt and develop in the face of change is crucial to survive a career plateau. It is too dangerous for anyone to be stagnant for long in an ever changing business world. We must all be willing to take risk. If you are risk averse, then you are plateau prone.
The ability to adapt and develop is enhanced by having a personal career plan. Your career plan provides a framework for every step you take in breaking off the plateau otherwise your effort may end up being like the experience of Alice in wonderland. My first recommendation in surviving career plateau therefore is to carry out a career check.
Nonetheless, there are options available to you if you think your career has plateaued. My advice is that you create a sense of urgency to address the situation as employees whose career have reached a peak are always the first to be exited in a time of restructuring or economic downturn.
Career plateau may be organisational or personal, but whichever one it is, there are different categories of stagnation based on causes. I have suggested some of the steps you can take to address the situation depending on the category you fall into. These suggestions however exclude steps organisation could take to salvage individual career plateau.
1. Employees whose competencies no longer meet the requirements of a restructured organisation. This usually happens after a restructuring exercise or when the organisation changes her model. If the employee is not yet exited, he is practically made redundant and there is no way he can grow upward in the new organisation. Some of the steps that can be taken include;
– Find another organisation where your competencies are relevant
– Acquire new competencies that are relevant to the new organisation.
– Begin a career transition programme
2. Employees who have a specialisation that was too small for the company to see market opportunities. An employee in this class may still be relevant in the organisation but with a very slim chance of career mobility
– Diversify your skills
– Search out for new areas where specialisation may be relevant both within and outside your current organisation
3. Employees with outdated knowledge.
– Update your knowledge in relevant areas
– Carry out an industry survey to know how relevant your knowledge is in your industry. This should tell you if the problem goes beyond your current organisation
– You may also need to start considering new areas of opportunities that can offer you new challenges
4. Professionals whose expertise is not important enough in the services of the company anymore.
– It might just be the right time to find your relevance elsewhere
– You might consider taking up new challenges in other areas of the organisation where your transferable skills are relevant
– You can also create new opportunities for the organisation where you can use expertise
5. Employees with a perceived inequity between the effort they put in and the remuneration they received.
– In a restructuring exercise, people in this category are usually the first target for exit because they are perceived as eating like elephants but adding value like ants. They cannot move upward except there is a change. You must work to justify your remuneration and even do more to be seen as the organisation getting more value from you than you are being paid for.
– You should ask for your job scope to be enlarged and this could be the only opportunity for upward mobility you would ever get in that organisation. Don’t wait for the organisation to initiate the job enlargement move. Making the move could be the redemptive step you need as they are likely already thinking of what to do with you.
6. You don’t want to work at a higher level.
Some people don’t actually want to rise above their current level because they don’t want to make the trade-off required for holding some higher level positions.
– Consider horizontal mobility, don’t stay on the same job for too long
– Be good at what you are doing
– You may have to change jobs frequently to avoid boredom or being laid off by the organisation. It is your decision not to progress, and that should not stop the organisation from promoting you. You can hardly explain your rejection of your promotion by your organisation
– Become an expert in your area. Be the go-to person in the organisation for what you do. With your technical skill, promoting you out of your current job may be impracticable for the organisation as that could mean doing less of what you are an expert in.
The suggestions above may sound easy and obvious, it is not about that. None of them will not require a good deal of effort and planning from you if you want to implement. You may need to get help to conduct a check, create your plan and be committed to the necessary actions that will get you the result you desire.