If you’ve been working at a job for several years and seem to be going nowhere—no promotion, no challenging tasks, feeling like a drone—it’s time to re-evaluate your situation and get out of your rut. Being stuck in job limbo can happen to even the best employees. And the sooner you take steps to move beyond this career roadblock the better. So where to start? Some suggestions:
Don’t stop at job descriptions
Many workers fall into the job description rut. They get so used to performing the perfunctory tasks outlined in their job description that they never “go for gold.” This used work in the old days of four percent unemployment. But in this tough, hypercompetitive economy, supervisors expect superstars who go the extra mile. Which is why, as a mere “job description” performer, you’ve been relegated to increasingly mundane and repetitive tasks. You may be good at those tasks, but you’ll never rise above them. Check out Sorry, That's Not in My Job Description for brief examples of what you should and should not be doing. The solution? Volunteer to do more. Arrive early for meetings and sit in the front. Contribute actively to each discussion, offer suggestions for improvement, and beat deadlines you used to just meet.
Don’t stop “connecting”
This one can be particularly tough for introverts. If you are one, break out of your shell and talk to more people—people outside your “drone zone.” Chances are, you’ve gotten so used to doing mundane, unchallenging tasks that the number of people you interact with on a daily or weekly basis is now down to just one or two. In some cases, those who find themselves in a job rut don’t even talk to people face to face anymore. It’s all emails and phone calls. You’ve become “the tech girl” or “the web guy” who people associate with doing one thing. The solution? Get out of your cubicle and meet the people on the other end of the email or phone. If they’re in another location, attend the various events, functions and get-togethers your division or group holds from time to time. It’s surprising what you can learn about advancement opportunities and boosting job performance from colleagues. For some ideas on improving your ability to connect, check out world-renowned leadership expert John C. Maxwell’s book, Everyone Communicates, Few Connect. He stresses the importance of connecting for success, and notes that to really connect with people, you must relate to them in a manner that increases your influence with them.
Don’t stop being creative
Offering creative solutions to problems at work can be a real career booster. Many employees start off on a creative binge, then stop, thinking no one is paying attention. This stems from the failure or reluctance of your supervisor not implementing a few really creative ideas you may have had. Ideas you thought were brilliant. So you simply gave up and slipped into your rut. The solution? Keep at it, recognize that in this tight economy, creative ideas may fall to the wayside due to budgetary or manpower limitations. Focus your creativity on solutions that improve productivity using existing resources. To improve your creativity, check out Start Being More Creative at Work.
Stuck in limbo at work? Feel like you’re going nowhere fast? Get out of your cubicle mindset and don’t stop improving.
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