Same job, same company, no promotion in sight are signs of a stagnant career.
One day, you wake up and realize you have been in the same job, doing the same tasks, for more than two years. You try to figure out how this happened, and how it is you’ve come to such a reduction in your work intensity. Although you cannot pinpoint precisely when this complacency set in, you get the feeling that you have let yourself drift away from the goals and targets you set for yourself many years ago. Then you ask yourself, “Have I simply become a piece of office furniture?”.
“Becoming part of the office decor is excellent, but only if your leaders appreciate antique furniture”.
While trying to understand the depth of the situation, slight panic sets in your mind. This is common for most of us. A majority of us go through the same crisis points at career junctions in our lives. Becoming part of the office decor is excellent, but only if your leaders appreciate antique furniture. That is a niche market, so I do not recommend anyone to pursue that path. I use the office furniture analogy here to point out that when employees become complacent, innovation and ownership go out the window. When this happens, companies are left with employees whom are only there to perform the tasks they were assigned as per the job description.
This process occurs so gradually we rarely recognize when it’s happening to us. As we start a new job, we manage to get a promotion, because of our enthusiasm and hard work. We start believing we are indispensable, and soon become comfortable with our position.
How do you recognize when you’ve become complacent, or in other words, simply a piece of ordinary office furniture?
Let's discuss few checks you can do today to see if you are part of the furniture or not.
1. Are you out of touch with current industry updates and trends?
With a cushy job, you know exactly what you need to do each day. You come into work, follow the checklist to complete the tasks, take part in routine chit-chat, and then clock out. That's your day-to-day life. Reading has become a fashion of the past. You’ve stopped paying attention to new industry technologies, techniques, and trends in the market. Since you are producing good-enough results, there is a paycheck at the end of each month. Guaranteed! With any luck, you might get a bonus, and you are happy. You have lost the feeling of necessity to learn something new.
If you study your industry trends, and feel that you're far away from where they are today, that is a problem—the first sign you are becoming furniture. The world is changing rapidly; so are many industries and companies. These changes create a chain reaction to work cultures, positions, and the way we work. Our job description evolves each day because the world is demanding something new and innovative. If you do not stay up-to-date with the current market trends and understand what you are worth in the market, you will be left behind.
2. What is your worth?
Since you are happy with your current job, you believe there is no need for you to seek other opportunities. You never consider taking the next step to advance your career. You postpone seeking anybody's advice to see what other options are available in the market. You haven’t spoken to a recruiter in many months, perhaps years. You feel that although it is not perfect, your current workplace is satisfactory. So, what is the need to question your current situation? The problem is, you need to understand whether or not you are receiving fair compensation for your role. Without knowing your worth, you could be undervalued and receiving low compensation for your efforts. Here are some questions to think about:
What do other companies and similar positions provide in comparison?
Is there any other job out there that can improve your skills?
Is there anything you can do to fast-track your career?
Is it worth speaking to a recruiter to see anything interesting in the market for you?
3. How long have I been in the same position?
Consider your current position, and the people around you. Notice how long you have been in the same spot without any movement. Ask yourself, when did you last get a pay raise, bonus, or promotion? The answer gives you an indication of how much the company appreciates you. Ask your manager why you have not progressed in your career as you would have expected. Another sign that you have been in the same position for too long is when you say, "been there done that." If you continue to make such a statement, that means you do not necessarily appreciate and enjoy the work you do. You are there to fill the timesheet and get a paycheck. Ultimately you will stay the same for so long until you become frustrated.
4. Do you believe learning is not essential?
When you start a new job, you are excited and want to know everything that will make you successful as soon as possible. You would go out of your way to get the necessary information. You seek others' help to make things efficient, and you are there to make a difference. And then, all of a sudden, you stop, because you have decided to stop learning. After a while, you start to believe you know everything. You stop worrying about how you can get to the next level, and what skills you need to develop to get you there.
Nowadays it is about surviving the current job. Meaning, there is a new version of your job being established each day. So, you have to keep up with the market and further develop your skills even to stay in the position you have, let alone get a promotion. If you do not learn, you will not progress. Unfortunately, like buying a smartphone, the day you come to the job, you are outdated. You must continually acquire new skills and improve your knowledge to be successful in your job. Ask yourself, “Have you learned anything new in the past month that improved your work?” If your answer is “no”, then it is time to get busy.
5. Are you always complaining?
You are in a safe work environment, or at least you feel this is so. Do you feel safe to gossip about co-workers at work? Do you complain about work to your friends and family? Rest assured, these are signs that you have downgraded yourself from a footrest to a doormat. If you are complaining and gossiping about your job or the people you work with, it's time to change.