What to do if you feel you’re stalled in your career

What to do if you feel you’re stalled in your career

Do you always do your best and consistently deliver great work? Have you been in your current position for two years or longer? And haven’t you heard the word “promotion” from your manager at all since your job interview?

If this is the case, you probably feel stalled in your career advancement—and you want to do something about it! However, before making any impulsive moves such as confronting your boss or looking for a new job, it’s important to calmly assess the situation and figure out what’s really going on.

The first thing you need to do is determine whether you are, in fact, being hindered—and if so, why. Review your company’s employee handbook to make sure you’re fully informed about promotion policies. There might be a number of conditions that still have to be met before you’re promoted.

If this isn’t the case, then the next step is to take stock of the upward movement of your colleagues. Are any of your co-workers waiting for a raise or a promotion, or are you the only one? If nobody’s moving up, then upper management has probably put a hold on promotions for some reason, for example the need to contain costs or maintain balance during a challenging time. If this is the case, then you should be able to verify it by asking your supervisor. Then it’s up to you to decide whether you want to remain with this company and wait until upward movement is possible again, or instead, look for another job.

If people are being promoted around you while you’re still in the same position, then you probably are being hindered. The question is, who’s doing the hindering? Is it your supervisor, or are you doing it yourself? You believe you’re doing great work—but is this really true? Are you somehow missing the mark? Think back to your latest performance review, and consider whether there are any points you didn’t take to heart. If there are, then adjusting your performance accordingly is likely to get your career unstuck.

If you haven’t had any negative feedback, then it could be that your supervisor isn’t putting you up for promotion. The problem is, of course, that you don’t know why—and the only way to find out is by asking. However, this shouldn’t be an informal, off-the-record conversation. Instead, request a meeting with your manager and ask that someone from HR is present. The conversation should be objective and professional, and by the end of the meeting, you should have the answers you need. If it becomes clear that your supervisor isn’t happy with you, then you have the right to know why. You also have the right to ask him or her to be more communicative in the future. It’s better to get constructive criticism so you can improve your performance than to be left in the dark. If, on the other hand, it’s clear that the problem lies with your supervisor, then HR should step in and resolve the matter.

No matter where you are in your career, if you’re working hard and delivering good results, you should be advancing. Keep track of your progression, and if you feel like you’re stalled, be proactive, and in a professional manner do what it takes to get your career back on track. 

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