The Decade Downers

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We all know that person who has put in a decade at the same dead end job, waiting and wishing for a promotion that seems to be just out of arm’s reach. They are trapped in a prison of their own making because they are unable to come to the realization that they are expendable. After going to dozens of interviews, all ending up with the same result, they still don’t know that their contributions are not wanted.

Management is good at feeding these would be ladder climbers the same tired lines over and over again: “We value your contributions, just not for that position.” or “We’re not saying no, we’re saying not right now.” Instead of taking their superiors’ actions into account, these people are fooled over and over again.

Instead, it’s time to read through the lines and evaluate what the company is truly trying to tell you. They are signaling an unwillingness to invest in you or train you to do anything different from you are right now. What your superiors are telling you is that they want you in the seat you are in now, doing the same work you’ve always done, because that is what benefits them.

The company I work for announced a while back an initiative where employees could participate in an “Emerging Leaders” program. The program requires 10 unpaid hours of your time and a 500 word essay submission detailing why you should be included. I’ll spare you from reading my entire essay, but my first sentence says it all: “I am willing to invest my time – uncompensated, through this program to further my HEB specific skill sets; you cannot put a price on that kind of commitment.”

Needless to say, I was not chosen to participate in the program. After having several conversations with other company leaders, a consensus was reached – If an employee is willing to spend their own time and effort uncompensated to participate in a program, they should be able to. The company is investing marginal resources to do this, one extra trainer could easily train 30 more people people to acquire the skills they need to contribute more to the company. This leads to a major return on a minor investment, with vast trickle down effects.

I have seen so many people leave a company (and this company) to obtain a raise of $5-10,000, and then come back to an even higher pay and promotion than they would have had in the same time frame had they stayed with the same company all along. It’s easy to blame the company, but the reality is that if you’ve plateaued in your career. You have allowed yourself to become expendable and you have only yourself to blame. Whether it is your fault or not; It’s time that you moved on.

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