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Stuck on a Career Plateau

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Employees, especially those who continue to work for the same organization for a long time and those who belong to the core of an organization, often reach career plateaus. To people working in human resources jobs, they present a special class of challenge that is hard to tackle without active cooperation from the affected person. However, more often than not, an employee stuck on a career plateau refuses to recognize that he or she has been trapped by a career barrier and will refuse help at its very mention.

By definition, a career plateau is a point in the career of an employee where the possibility of vertical promotion within the official hierarchy becomes very low or absent altogether. When faced with someone on a career plateau, the human resources professional must determine the opportunities for lateral growth that exist for the concerned employee. Then, he or she needs to select and present acceptable options to keep the trapped employee engaged and on the move. When dealing with employees stuck on career plateaus, those in human resources jobs have three principal tasks to perform:
  1. Preventing the stagnating employee from becoming ineffective. This involves convincing the employee that stagnation doesn't necessarily mean failure and then directing him or her toward any avenue for personal development and growth that exists.

  2. Integrating all relevant career-related information so that problems can be anticipated and treated as early as possible. To carry out this function, a thorough and effective performance appraisal system is necessary.

  3. Managing frustrated employees and others who have become ineffective through stagnation. Open communication between the stagnating employee and people in human resources jobs is essential to this function.
Five Effective Strategies for Dealing with Employees Stagnating on Career Plateaus

This critical issue needs to be handled carefully by human resources professionals. Stagnating employees often refuse to budge and allow themselves to be overtaken by frustration. The immediate absence of opportunities for vertical advancement also prevents human resources professionals from instilling encouragement. Five simple strategies for dealing with the situation are:
  1. Provide alternative means of recognition. The stagnating employee can be given special assignments and tasks of special importance, like training new employees, representing the organization to others, or participating in brainstorming sessions.

  2. Develop ways to make current jobs more satisfying. This can be attained by creating competition on the job and personal rewards.

  3. Revitalize through reassignment. Systematically switch the stagnating employee to different positions at the same level that can be handled given his or her core skill set.

  4. Use self-development programs. Instead of preparing employees who have reached career plateaus for future jobs, prepare them to perform their present jobs better.

  5. Change managerial attitudes. Managers and human resources professionals should never give up and start neglecting the stagnating employee.
What to Do When You Realize You Have Reached a Career Plateau

If you are stuck on a career plateau and have been able to recognize it, you should start to move immediately to free yourself of career barriers. Possible strategies for breaking free of stagnation include the following:
  • Create your own personal mission statement and decide where you would like to be.

  • Start taking responsibility for your own direction and growth, and avoid placing your hopes in an organization-provided solution.

  • Constantly work to broaden your skill set; seek to enhance rather than advance.

  • Talk with people who are already in the job roles you desire and ask for suggestions on how to proceed to their level.

  • Set realistic short-term goals that will move you toward your ultimate goal.
At the same time, while continuing in the same organization:
  • Always keep in mind that while your performance at your job is important, you have reached the phase where interpersonal performance is critical.

  • Align your behavior, rights, and values with the company's values, goals, and objectives.

  • Do not provide problems. Offer positive solutions, and take time to think through issues before offering suggestions.

  • Be a team player, and put the spotlight on the group's efforts.

  • Approach everything you do with a positive attitude, and be sure that each thing you do makes a difference, regardless of appreciation.
People in human resources jobs should always be aware of career plateaus and levels where good employees can get caught and start to stagnate. As an employee, one should always be aware of career plateaus and set strategies to avoid their grip.
On the net:Hit a Career Plateau? Four Tips for Moving Up

Coping with a Career Plateau: An Empirical Examination of What Works and What Doesn't

Career Plateau and Work Attitudes: An Empirical Study of Managers If this article has helped you in some way, will you say thanks by sharing it through a share, like, a link, or an email to someone you think would appreciate the reference.

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