According to research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), a significant proportion of employees are dissatisfied by the pace of their career development and feel that it is not where they would like it to be. In a survey of 2,000 employees conducted last year, the CMI found that 42 percent of respondents felt that their careers were stalling. The most common complaints were: being overlooked for promotion or not receiving pay increases.
If your organisation has frozen promotional or sideward opportunities then you have two basic choices. You can accept the current situation and wait for an improvement, or else consider options externally.
However, if colleagues are being promoted ahead of you it is a clear sign that opportunities exist but that you are not being considered for them. Why is this? Possibly it is because your line manager is unsupportive, but often the answer lies in an employee not having enough of the skills required for the targeted job.
If you are looking for a move upwards or across then you need to take a look at your current skill-set and review what is missing that you need in order to progress. This could be a lack of qualifications, IT or language skills, or experience in key areas.
How to identify what’s missing?
If progression means promotion into a more senior role then your performance appraisals can help you to identify your development areas.
If you are seeking a move into a different type of role then try to obtain a job description. Job descriptions are very useful in helping us to identify the qualifications, experience and competencies that are required.
Information on internal positions may be available from HR or the company intranet, while information on external roles can be found on company websites and job boards. Full or abbreviated job descriptions are reasonably easy to find and this will help you to identify key areas.
Strengthen your weaknesses
The good news is that there are plenty of resources available. Firstly, your employer may be willing to provide you with internal or external training opportunities.
Find out what training is available – from the Internet, company intranet or from HR or training officers – and ask to be allowed to participate. If your employer is reluctant to give the time off you can always offer to make up the time or even use your holiday allowance.
You may find that external training is your best option. Of course this often has a cost attached, but if the accompanying qualification will help you to progress in your career, it may be seriously worth taking on the cost, even if your employer is reluctant to fund it.
Also look at informal training opportunities. Can you strengthen your experience by helping colleagues? People with knowledge in areas you are lacking can be a source of expertise that will benefit you if you are prepared to learn. Are there possibilities for participating in projects with other teams in the business or even outside the organisation?
When you have identified the areas that you need to improve, your next step will be to put in place an action plan of how you are going to work on these. The four steps are: ‘What?’, ‘How?’, ‘Plan it’, ‘Do it!’
1) What is your greatest need?
2) How can you address it?
3) Put a plan in place – contacting the relevant people, signing up, making the time and travel arrangements and doing any preparatory work.
4) Do it!