Recently, I was asked an interesting question. ‘Nim, I consider myself a good employee. I arrive on time, often don’t take lunch breaks and complete every project on time. Yet, I’m not moving ahead in my career. Just the other day, my colleague got promoted and she’s been with the team less than a year, while I’ve been working here for the past 6 years. What am I doing wrong?’
In many ways, this young woman’s dilemma is a universal one. Many of us have, at some point, hit a plateau in our careers and felt stuck. I’ve outlined below the 4 top reasons why some people never get promoted.
1) They expect their work to speak for them
There are countless professionals around the globe who work incredibly hard, slaving over their jobs from dawn to dusk, yet they never move ahead. Obviously, there’s a missing link somewhere. If hard work was all it took to get promoted, every second person would be climbing the corporate ladder at lightening speed. But that doesn’t happen. If you’ve been waiting for your work to do all the heavy-lifting for you, you’ll most likely be waiting an entire lifetime. Instead, take control and ensure that the people of influence in your workplace are aware of your skills and accomplishments. It’s all about working smart…not just working hard.
2) They’re unable to take constructive criticism in the right spirit
Instead of focusing on the CONTENT, they’re obsessed with how they FEEL after receiving the critical feedback. It’s important here to differentiate between facts and feelings. Just because you feel bad after a performance review doesn’t change the fact that you may be lacking a particular skill or that your work might not be up to the required standard. The employees who are able to fast-track their careers are the ones who can take constructive criticism in their stride and learn from it instead of getting defensive.
3) They never ask for new responsibilities
Many professionals wonder why the’re never the ones to be selected for plum and lucrative assignments/projects when the truth is they’ve never dared to step outside their comfort zones and take calculated risks. If you come in to work each day and do the same tasks as those you were doing when you first joined the company, it’s unlikely that upper management will see leadership qualities in you. And to get promoted, you require leadership skills. This means you’ll have to put up your hand more often and actively express interest in taking on new challenges.
4) They don’t build influential networks
We’ve all heard the saying ‘It’s not WHAT you know…it’s WHO you know.’ Employees who work through their lunch breaks every single day often believe that their sole responsibility is simply doing their work well. While job performance is certainly a huge responsibility, it’s by no means the only responsibility. You also need to make time to get to know the people you work with. There will certainly be times when, due to urgent deadlines, you’ll need to work through lunch breaks. But if this becomes a daily habit, it’ll seriously hamper your chances of getting ahead. Make time to have the occasional coffee or lunch catch-up with not just your immediate team members, but also with key decision makers and people of influence in your organisation.
Career acceleration is all about asking for what you want, learning from constructive feedback and creating a solid network. With these strategies in place, you’ll find it a lot easier to take your career to the next level.