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Anonymous Career Advice

Career Going Backwards

In this week’s instalment of focus anonymous career advice, we cover something many of us face, is our career going backwards?

Dear Focus, I feel like my career is going backwards, I have not been promoted for two years, my manager cannot answer why this has not changed, unless my boss leaves I won’t get a title change, what should I do?

This sounds like an issue so many people face, you have hit your ceiling within your business and there is nowhere to go unless you feel like they leave.

There are a couple of sides you should consider:

– Have you evolved in the last two years?
– Are there any development opportunities within the company?
– Can you arrange a skip meeting with your bosses boss and discuss what potential steps there are?

The more obvious the question, the more important it is to answer the question.

Something that is important to keep front of mind and something you should continually ask yourself is what have I learnt and have I evolved?

Personal development and being the person who evolves your career is the easiest hack, you have the ability to learn from millions of resources online and the option to ask for specific training courses from your company. Not developing yourself in this situation is holding yourself back.

Often managers cannot answer these tricky questions, for many reasons, often this is because they are concerned for their role, for the competition from you, for losing you to another business and you are a secret weapon or hidden leader and rely on you more than know.

Many businesses have top-down company culture, meaning your boss has far more influence on you than the business around you, it is important to understand if this is happening across the business or just in your situation. Be delicate in asking these questions, for yourself and so this does not fed back to your boss.

Something that Netflix openly encourage is for you to understand your worth and take external interviews, taking an interview or interviews will help you to understand where you are at, what other companies are looking for and if you can take a step up in another business. Often this is a great way to know if you are undervalued or underachieving or frankly in the wrong business.

Ceilings are everywhere, as the number of headcount and senior people has to be limited (despite some companies feeling the opposite).
This does not mean there are not any other opportunities or leadership roles internally or options to own other projects outside of your current roles and progress within this organisation.

Many times businesses are looking for leaders to step up and move laterally to improve the company. This is common in many of the larger orgs and something I and many others have benefitted from.

The harder truth might be, to develop or gain a promotion, you will likely have to move on or wait for your manager to leave, this is not a foolproof plan.

For what it is worth: Titles do not really mean as much until you look to leave a role, often titles are overly internally focused that what internal title you have is completely different externally.

Good luck with this, I would recommend having the open conversations with your boss or bosses boss, look for interview opportunities to understand where you are and consider how you might take the step up by taking on different projects.
The key here is to be super proactive and drive your own career forward.


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