How You Can Fix a Stagnant Career

Disengaged workers

To go up a staircase you have to keep moving, unfortunately even though you keep moving, you still might get stuck. When you are stuck can you fix it?

Doing the same thing day in and day out, without any reward or goal to achieve can be soul-crushing. You’re always on time, you work hard and meet deadlines, but you still don’t seem to be making progress in your career. This can be a frustrating and demotivating situation, but the factors might go beyond bad management. In fact, many of the factors that contribute to a stagnant career might be to do with you.

Have you learned anything new about your job or industry in recent years? Have you volunteered for new responsibilities or asked to help complete additional tasks? Have you spoken to the administration, management or human resources about your concerns? Well, let’s take a look as to why your career might be stagnant.

The Signs

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If you haven’t been given any new tasks, responsibilities or opportunities to learn and grow recently, you might be suffering from career stagnation. To some this might seem like a God-sent, but without having a goal or goals to strive for, work can start to seem like drudgery. Think back to when work was exciting. Most people would probably answer that it was when they first entered the workforce.

There were many opportunities for upward mobility, almost everything you were tasked with came with the inherent challenges of inexperience, and almost everything was a learning experience. Recently though you have fallen into a comfortable lull, you show up every day at exactly 8.00 a.m. you work your eight hours and go home, then you repeat everything again. Your performance is adequate; you are seldom excited about new projects, and you have very little interest in what is happening in the industry and specifically your company.

Worse than the administration noticing your disengagement, is the administration not noticing you at all. If you are keeping your head down and are doing the bare minimum, then the administration might even know that you feel stuck.

Step One

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The best way to be heard is to speak. If the administration doesn’t know that you feel disengaged, then they will be unable to help you re-evaluate your goals and hopefully reinvigorate your motivation. Before you approach anyone, though, you have to find out what is truly at the root of your problem. Is it fundamentally about opportunities or lack of vertical movement in the company? Or is it something a bit more pragmatic like money?

You also need to consider if your company can promote you or create the upward mobility you seek. If it can’t that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t speak with the administration. If you are a valuable employee, they will try their best to accommodate you. If you just feel stuck because of monotony, then you might want to propose an interdepartmental rotation so you can see and hopefully learn within your organisation.

If the administration is unable to help you resolve the issues that are demotivating you, then there are a couple of ways you can fix the situation. First, try to create the opportunity yourself, allow me to explain. Say the company isn’t financially healthy enough to give a pay raise, then you can create revenue for the company, in essence, creating your own raise.

If it’s the lack of opportunities that is affecting you negatively, then try to look for space to expand within the company. Of course, you must work with the administration to see where you can expand and if this matches the company’s mission and goals. If you think that I am writing off the top of my head, the company that most companies want to emulate, Google, is already offering something like this to their employees and they call it “job crafting”.

Job Crafting

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Job crafting is essentially reinvigorating your role at your job. This could involve doing things slightly differently to help you renew your love and passion, or find love and passion where it doesn’t exist. For example, a study followed cleaners of a large Midwestern hospital and found that they were adding tasks that helped patients and the families of patients so they would feel like they were contributing to the greater good.

Amazing things are seen when you allow people to pursue their talents. In most cases, they perform extraordinary well because of it.  Google is already allowing Googlers to customise their jobs to fit their skills better, and employees report feeling happier, while the managers noticed an increase in efficiency within just six weeks of starting the program.

This may seem daunting at first, but that is probably because of how you approach it. If you treat your duties and tasks rigidly, then, of course, you won’t understand how to craft a job. Instead, think of your work duties as Lego bricks, you can move around and craft your qualifications exactly as you want. Eventually, you’ll be able to craft a job which will not only help you reignite your passion but also hopefully help you become more valuable to your company.


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Value, passion and strength are some of the key factors you need to consider when job crafting. Those aren’t the only factors you should consider when job crafting, though: you might need to evaluate your point of view regarding your job, the relationship you have with your co-workers or maybe even the administration. A cognitive shift is necessary and a renewed sense of motivation will help you “modify” your job to keep you engaged and ultimately content. This is the caveat of job crafting; it becomes most effective and rewarding when management knows your intentions and support them. Initiative is appreciated but so is transparency. So be careful and considerate when doing so.

In the end job crafting is something that should happen organically in competitive and adaptable organisations. When employees are well placed to suit their talents and abilities, tasks are completed much more efficiently, job-satisfaction and moral is high which are all factors that contribute to a productive workplace.

Worse Case

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Unfortunately, there is always a worst case scenario, if you have not managed to successfully speak to the administration, have your requests heard or successfully craft a different job, then you might need to look elsewhere. The problem is if you feel undervalued, under implemented and stuck, it might be hard to find the motivation, to leave a comfortable place and move on. Beyond suffering from a lack of motivation, you might also find yourself dealing with feelings of self-doubt and diminished self-confidence, which will undoubtedly affect your job search. Remind yourself of your unique value, abilities and credentials, to maximise your chances of employment and make an upward opposed to a sideways career move.

Have you successful job crafted? What was the administration's reaction? We would love to hear about your experience, let us know in the comment section below.




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