Careers can thrive even when the promotions slow down

by Grace

Most of us have no desire to occupy the corner office.

More than 3 in 4 employees say they have no desire to move up in their organizations, according to a 2011 survey of 431 workers by OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, Calif., staffing service. Some have found equilibrium between career challenges and family stability. Others don’t like managing people or taking on tasks that don’t excite them.

It is probably more common to desire a rise in the ranks to end up at a certain “sweet spot”, where the work is interesting and challenging, but not too demanding that it cuts into enjoying other parts of life. And the reality is that the number of corner office spots is quite limited.  But there are pitfalls for those who casually cruise through a career without planning a strategic course of action.

  • Some companies espouse an “up or out” culture, leaving few options for employees who don’t want keep up a rigorous pace of increasingly challenging assignments.
  • Colleagues may view the person who does not seek regular promotions with less respect.  Younger workers in particular may wonder what went wrong his career.
  • A person who has held the same position for many years may be viewed as a “blocker”, preventing subordinates from upward movement.
  • A takeover or reorganization places the employee considered stale or expendable at a higher risk for downsizing.
  • Salary stagnation may be the price to pay for not pursuing constant advancement.

Don’t become the “old fogey” in the corner.  Here are some ideas for thriving while staying at the same level in an organization.

  • Making your boss look good never goes out of style.
  • Be honest about your value, and how that translates into compensation.
  • Cross training can be an avenue for demonstrating the benefit you bring to a company.
  • Madonna can be your role model, as constantly reinventing yourself can give the glow of a positive spotlight.  Maybe you can become the leader in pursuing a new line of business, take on the role of mentoring up-and-coming stars, or become the go-to person for a critical area of expertise.
  • Do not ignore office politics.

Ambitious young college graduates might want to bookmark this post for reading in five or ten years.

Related:  ‘jobs that pay the most for the least amount of work’ (Cost of College)

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