Do you feel as though your career has hit a standstill? Are the promotions slower or your career in need of a jumpstart? How do you break through to the next level? Try these five steps to reboot:
1.Fall in love with your job again.
By the time you feel stagnant, there is a good chance any love affair you had with your job is over. You may be bored. Perhaps you're frustrated or have even become complacent. Do an honest gut check. If unbeknownst to you, someone who didn't know the situation had observed you at work last week, would they say you have the passion, skills and attitude to break through to the next level? You've got to make a decision to approach your job with the energy you would if you were a brand new hire looking to prove yourself. Even though you want to go to the next level, your proving ground is the level where you are. If you can't be in the job you want right now, make a decision to maximize the job you're in.
2. Fine tune relationships.
Many people who find themselves stuck have never accepted the truth that it's not just what you know, it's WHO you know. Don't resent it, embrace it. Then make a plan to build relationships. Reach out. Listen. Observe and learn from those who are progressing more quickly. People get promoted, in large part, because of the effectiveness of their relationships - how well you lead, how people respect you, how inspired they are to follow you, how you make them FEEL. Key questions: 1) Do people leave your presence feeling better or feeling worse? Also, consider doing what HR departments do for performance reviews - get 360-degree feedback. Get feedback from your bosses, peers, customers and subordinates. It's hard to hear criticism, but if you learn from it, a few adjustments can catapult you to the next level. Don't take anything personally. Glean every bit of truth you can from criticism.
3. Set new clear, specific goals.
Where exactly do you want to be in one year? Be clear, specific. What position? What type of responsibilities? How much income? And what do you want LESS of? Then identify specific steps - doable steps - to get you there. If you don't know what they are, actively seek the answers - from inside or outside the company, from books and articles, from role models who are already where you want to be, and from anywhere credible that you can find the info. Don't set only big goals and hold your breath until you reach the finish line. Establish the milestones on the journey to the goal. And research shows you will be more effective if you give yourself the flexibility to adjust your goal and your strategy for reaching it as you progress.
4. Understand the big picture.
What does your company want from you right now? If you're unclear, ask. Your goals and your desire to get to the next level are not just about you getting unstuck, it is about you making a contribution to the company's vision. Understand the company's bottom line and your position's role in contributing to that bottom line. Being a team player is absolutely essential to getting unstuck in a corporate environment.
5. Close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
It's possible you can reboot your career at your current place of employment. But many workers have found the door is shut to promotion. The company is determined to hire from the outside or the company itself is at a standstill. You need to understand whether that's the case, and if so, you need to reclaim your career by coming up with alternatives. Do you need to transition to another department or another company? Are you in a field that is stagnant and need to find a sub-field in which your skills are coveted (i.e., newspaper reporters who've moved into PR or marketing; teachers who move into corporate training, family doctors who go to work for health-related companies). Be willing to make a BIG move to reboot your career. First, plan your work. Then work your plan.
Make a decision to reboot your career by being honest with yourself, taking a look at it with fresh eyes. Identify the most important change you could make that would shake things up and take you to the next level.
Think of a wise person who has already made it to or beyond the level you want to be in your career. What is the most powerful piece of advice you imagine s/he would give you right now? Is it time for you to take that advice?