Are you stuck in your career? Have you been doing the same thing for too long and feel frustrated about your career outlook? A recent Gallup poll shows some distressing numbers: only 30% of our U.S. workers are engaged with their jobs, another 50% are “non-engaged,” and an astonishing 20% are “actively disengaged.”
So, it seems, employees not only hate their jobs, they are, most likely, less productive and “checked out.” Some of the most common reasons for this trend are:
Employees are staying in their roles too long, getting “stale.”
Employees are abdicating the responsibility for their own career movements to their managers and companies.
Employees are working longer hours for smaller wage or salary increases.
Work-life balance is heading in the wrong direction, driven by device proliferation.
Negative employer-employee relationships.
Unclear career path and next steps.
Gallup recommends that managers play a much bigger role in engaging with employees. I think employees need to step up, take control, and make their own choices.
Choices? Yes, take control of your career destiny and be accountable for every single zig and zag you make, professionally. After all, it’s your career and livelihood, right?
FACT: Nobody cares about your career more than you do. So stop waiting for your manager, your company, or anybody else to direct you.
FACT: Career planning is an ongoing process, not once or twice a year just because your company asks you to fill out a form or talk to your manager about it. You should always make a point of carrying out regular “checkups” on your career progress. Constantly look at where you are and the available opportunities for advancement.
FACT: Employees who are well connected are not only more satisfied with their current positions, they are more likely to be promoted. We neglect quality networking. We are so busy and tend to favor a few relationships of depth rather than build a broad network.
REALITY: It’s not easy to just step out of the situation you are in. I’ve been where you are. Here are four simple – though not necessarily easy – steps to follow:
Step 1: If you find yourself disengaged at work or even hating your job, you need to take the time to stop and think about why. Is it the money? Is it the people? Is it the work or the hours?
Step 2: Decide whether you are going to do something about it – or not. But make that decision. If your answer is, “No, I’ll stay here,” then stop whining. If your answer is, “Yes, I want to build choices while working here,” then build a plan and execute it! Stop excuses like, I don’t have time or I don’t know how. There are plenty of resources to help you. Buy a book – like my "Cut the Crap, Get a Job!" available on Amazon – invest in a personal coach to project-manage your job search with you, or read the many free job search blogs online.
Step 3: Set a goal. Clarify what it is you are looking for, and be very clear and specific: the function, industry, company type, location, salary minimum, and more. This goal can be within your company, too.
Step 4: Put your plan in motion. Period. Do it without excuses or mistakes. Carve out the time in your non-work-hours calendar, make it a project, and run it with disciplined excellence. Naturally, if you are looking within your current company, networking internally during work hours so you can research possibilities is perfectly acceptable.
Nobody owns your career besides you and success doesn’t happen in isolation!
I’ll be speaking at WPC in a session called “WOMEN AND CAREER OPPORTUNITIES – Nothing is stopping you!” Men are invited too!
Dana Manciagli is a career expert, international speaker, private career coach and consultant. She has spent more than 30 years as a Fortune 500 sales and marketing executive, now retired after more than a decade at Microsoft as general manager of worldwide sales. Dana is the author of the book, "Cut the Crap, Get a Job!" and a prolific blogger. She sits on the worldwide board of Junior Achievement and received her MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management.