Love Your Job But Feel Pressure To Advance?


There’s a lot of reasons why employees want promotions and to advance their career. Some want the prestige of the title that goes with a role, the increase in salary, some even crave the extra workload and responsibility involved while many cite the opportunity to influence and direct staff; “I really want to make a difference.”

We’ve come to a point in many organizations where if you don’t advance yourself within a few years, you’re cut loose; you’re not performing up to expectations. It’s true! There are organizations that promote from within and expect front-line staff to move up in seniority and stature, creating opportunities for new staff in entry level roles. The thinking is that employees are most effective when they started on the bottom and as they rise in the organization, they have the memories and experience of having been on the bottom, so they carry that knowledge first-hand as they advance.

So you might be feeling that in order to fit in, you’ve got to throw your name in the next job competition for a promotion – even when you’re perfectly happy in your current role. There’s advice out there to this effect too; “dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”

Hold on. Go back to that very first line in this blog. Did you even notice how I used the words, “promotions” and “advance”? I bet you just read along taking both these words to mean the same thing. In other words, to advance your career you need a promotion. That’s a widely held assumption and belief that’s just not true. Here’s my personally held belief: If you want to make the biggest impact in an organization; make a real and lasting imprint on how your customers/clients/ etc. experience interacting with your company, work on the front line.

Now many people will argue that if you stay on the front line in an entry-level role, you’re not ambitious and you’re going to stagnate. I like to tell those people that while they are entitled to their opinion, I don’t share it. I myself have been an Employment Counsellor now for 12 years in the organization, 4 more before that as a Caseworker and those positions are at the same level on our organizational flow chart. So that’s 16 years employment at the same level in the same organization.

Now while I’ll happily admit I’ve not got a promotion in our organization, I’ll also tell you I’ve never sought one. Have I advanced myself though? Absolutely! I’ve evolved and developed my skills; worked on various committees and contributed fresh ideas and been open to change that’s happened and continues to happen where I work.

My reputation for competence, dependability, program development, creativity and service excellence has enriched my work life and I’m a much more effective Employment Counsellor now than I was not just 12 years ago when I started, but I like to think better than any of the years before. I’m advancing my knowledge, working to improve my service delivery, overhaul workshops and create new ones, stretch myself by learning best practices and sharing my knowledge.

Believe me, when I feel I’m just putting in time and stagnating, I’ll be aggressively seeking to move on – within or beyond the organization. I’m much more concerned about floating along and not developing personally than my employer could ever be. I never want to be, ‘that guy’; the one that everyone knows should be put out to pasture, riding off into retirement or let go because I’m flatlining. You think I’m not advancing? Just try and keep pace with me. Oh and that’s not arrogance by the way – that’s personal confidence and drive; two qualities you want in your employees no matter where they are in the hierarchy.

So now to you. When you’ve got your own performance review coming up, you may feel some expectation to indicate your plan for career advancement – in other words a promotion. I can’t tell you what you should say or how you should feel about that. I’d hate to contribute to your release from a position if the company’s policy is you only work in a role so long and up you go or out you go!

What I will say to you is this though; you can be incredibly effective and impactful on the front-line where you interact first-hand with those you’re in business to serve and interact with. You are the face of the organization, the ambassador for how they perceive the company; you hold that organizations reputation in your hands as much as your own. If you excel in your role, show up every day (well most days – we’re human after all) energized and work with drive and passion, why would you risk giving up what so many are longing for in their own careers?

Moving up doesn’t bring any guarantee of increased happiness and fulfillment. In fact, many a happy and productive employee has moved up and found the new job isn’t all they hoped it would be. They were happier and better suited to work on the front line, but in some companies, there’s no going back. That is the ultimate sign of failure in some places. What a shame.

If you love your role on the front line, show up happy, work with passion and deliver service excellence, my goodness feel validated in your present job!

 

 

Awake The Giant!


Many people, maybe you perhaps, go through much of life living their days in a relatively state of complacency and routine. Each morning is a regular routine, the trip in to work is essentially the same route, taking approximately the same amount of time to travel. The work day might vary every so often with training or a unique encounter with a customer, but as you look back at the past month’s or years in a job, the days blend pretty much in a sea of normalcy.

At the close of the work day, the trek back home is made, another meal prepared and consumed, an evening spent and the cycle repeats itself. This life you’re living isn’t bad; it’s far from it perhaps. Your happy in fact, and generally content. Sure you have your moments with problems, challenges, frustrations and setbacks – we all do. However, you’ve also got your moments of challenges overcome, tasks completed, successes realized. Nothing is really wrong at all.

So if all this is true, if nothing is really wrong, why is it that from somewhere deep down inside, you occasionally feel this tremor; this stirring of something slumbering? Physically there may be nothing going on; it’s not indigestion, nor is it your last meal breaking down into nutrients and waste. No, something else is stirring restlessly from within; something far from physical – much more metaphysical. It might be hard to put into words beyond what I’ve done here but if you’ve felt it you know what I refer to.

It starts with a general awareness you get that something is stirring. That stirring is in response to what’s going on around you; your stimulated in some way with your environment or maybe someone you’re interacting with. If you fail to tune in to that deep inner feeling, it passes. There’s no harm done, you return to the life you’re leading and it subsides. It never really goes away completely, but it slumbers again for a period. Ah, but if you’re dialed in, attuned to the stirring; if you really live that moment in full self-awareness, you my friend, have the opportunity to awake the giant!

Some of you will never know what I’m referring to here. For you, this will be simply a romanticized post of whimsy and theatrics; a poetic rambling of nonsense to be dismissed. Might actually be the majority of you come to think of it. No matter. There are only so many Harry Potter’s, Frodo Baggins, Christopher Columbus’ and Sir Edmund Hilary’s in our world.

Or is that a falsehood? After all, don’t each of us star as the leading character in our own life stories? We are the ones that compose our lives, write our tales and no one else. So what kind of story are you writing? Is it a story filled with highs and lows, repeated defeats, struggles of mental health, loved one’s lost, and interjected moments of triumph and victory? Or is it a huge volume of mundane, commonplace, daily routines; where your decisions are which cereal to have at the start of your day?

What makes you come alive? What shakes the Giant within and gets you feeling invigorated? Have you found that yet? If you’ve had that feeling why aren’t you doing more to feed that feeling more often? And for each of us it’s different isn’t it? For we are on a quest of sorts. We’re on a journey from our present to our future self. In the stories that make good adventures such as Treasure Island or The Lord Of The Rings, hero’s don’t always recognize themselves as such. They start expecting life to be ordered and highly predictable and then some event comes along that changes all that.

If you’re waiting for pirates to abscond with you or some dwarves to come knocking at your door to take you on a quest, you might be waiting a rather long time – waiting your life away. Your stimulus; your calling, might just be internal and not external – the giant within. If you feed it, it grows. If you ignore it, it diminishes until it’s such a far cry from itself it’s barely recognizable.

For there are many adventures still to be found in 2018. While some are thousands of miles away, some are right where we live – where you live – all around you. There are tyrants and victims, the oppressed and the hungry, lives to be saved and people to be helped up. There are those to advocate for, some to be rescued, and the hero to do all these things and more isn’t charging in on some distant horizon. The hero my friend is – perhaps – the giant that slumbers within Y-O-U.

Sure, go on and nod your head in disbelief. Jim Hawkins didn’t believe it, nor did Frodo when talking to Gandalf. Most hero’s at some point say, “But I am only one! What can I do?” Ah, but there is a slumbering giant within us all my friend. Imagine how powerful we might be if we not only awoke the giant within us but stirred the giant in others to join us; to work with us, to journey with us! Then what could we not do collectively together?

Now the next time you feel this stirring from within, pay heed my friend. Ask not where it comes from but rather what is it in response to around you that stirs it?