Remedies to Career Stagnation of Senior Management Level Employees

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I recently consulted Praveen (name changed), a senior level manager employed with a large corporate, who according to him was facing ‘career stagnation’ after working for almost 18-20 years having achieved excellent and consistent KPIs and KRAs year-on-year. His concern was that there was no more scope in sight for his upward hierarchical movement in the current organisation and was not able to decide what needs to be done to come out of this ‘career stagnation’.

Factually, many senior management level employees do face such ‘career stagnation’ after having worked relentlessly for over 15 years and having proved their mettle. ‘What next?’ is a question for many, giving them sleepless nights!

We all know that in a management pyramid, as one rises upwards, the scope and space for accommodating people goes on decreasing, giving rise to fierce competition, selection of the fittest and then at times resulting into ‘career stagnation’ for some who fail to make up. There is only very few at the top, so naturally all cannot become the top bosses.

· Introspection is an answer to come out of ‘career stagnation’

Let’s first and foremost admit to ourselves that there is definitely an end to everything and there doesn’t practically exist, the bookish thought called ‘sky is the limit’ or ‘sky is not the limit’.

Those of you who feel that there seems no growth (personal and professional) in an organisation, firstly need to introspect whether you really have it in you to get on to the next ultimate managerial level or is it that you wish to climb up just as a natural phenomenon would occur or you yourself think there is nobody else who can climb up to the top job? As a top position, one needs to have very niche skills, a vision, ability to take on the world heads-on, capability to fight the odds and more importantly to be a people’s person rather than a boss.

Many a times, it happens that we do not really and exactly have in us what it is required to be on the top most level in the organisation, in terms of competence, intellect and skill. At times it may also happen that genuinely there is no scope or opportunity within the same organisation for upward career movement due to reasons of the organisation’s nature of business or vision.

It is always advisable to know your own limits. Limits can be extended but not erased, is what we should remember.

‘Career stagnations’ of these kinds need to be taken positively and to explore your other competence areas which are still unexplored but which can result in career success.

· Do you have those competencies, intellect and skills to be able to get to the next top level and still feel the career stagnation?

If the answer you believe is ‘yes’, let me tell you that you need to then believe strongly that ‘a job is always available to a right person’! The problem today is a ‘right person’ is not available for a ‘job’.

A day here and there, if you are able & capable, you will get the next level position in the current or another organisation!

· What about those who are not able to make up for the next level?

You need to definitely explore your competence & skill areas still remaining unexplored but which can result in career success. It is observed that after counselling, many such people get to unearth their hidden traits and get a change in their life.

I would advise the below ways to come out of your ‘career stagnation’:

– Explore for change in sector or domain within same organisation or another organisation

This is one definite way one can come out of stagnation. Doing this requires strong networking, learning attitude and ability to cope up with change.

– Explore ‘teaching’ as an additional activity or a full time activity

Senior management level employees definitely are equipped with sizeable work experience, maturity and domain knowledge, which can help them join as a Visiting Faculty / Guest Faculty in post graduate colleges, while continuing their job. There are many cases where such senior employees have left the corporate to join academia as full time faculty and impart their knowledge and experience to the next generations. Teaching also serves as a relaxer from the routine job responsibilities and helps keep you young and energetic mentally.

– Explore entrepreneurship

Having armed with years of experience, domain knowledge and people network, entrepreneurship can be an option which gives you a chance to work for yourself and do things which you would probably not have been able to do in others organisation. Entrepreneurship is a wonderful option to get rid of monotony and prove yourself from the other side of the business after working as an employee for years. There are many cases where such switch from job to entrepreneurship has happened successfully.

– Explore consulting

If you are not interested in a typical product or service entrepreneurship, you can definitely consider exploring ‘Consulting’ as an option. A senior level employee having worked for years and having gained good amount of expertise, ‘consulting’ can surely be a wonderful and workable option. Consulting enables diverse work nature, flexibility, freedom and the sense of pride of having been able to consult organisations / people for their problem areas.

– Explore authoring / writing

Authoring a Book based on industry and life experience or writing columns for newspapers and magazines on industry or business can also be another way to come out of career stagnancy. In fact, this way can be a good option for connecting with people, getting more social and making a name for yourself.

– Explore getting associated formally in some capacity with industry chambers, committees, corporate clubs, associations, etc.

With a sizeable years of experience, domain knowledge, one can get associated with various industry chambers as a consultant or expert or advisor, or by joining some corporate clubs and associations or by being a member of some committees, where your experience and knowledge can be put to use for benefit of society and industry. This helps in enhancing people networking.

· Important to understand that career is a part of life and not the reverse…

It is very important to assess that till where you want to go and for how long and whether you have not lost living your ‘life’. It is vital to draw the line instead of shifting the line for some unknown thing or desire.

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