Finding the right paddle: Taking the steps needed to ameliorate the situation
Knowing yourself is half the battle but now its time to take it a step further and figuring out the solution. You have by now spoken to well wishers inside and outside the organization, some helpful mentors, perhaps even your bosses with willing ears. Getting honest feedback is critical to this process, as the people who soft soap it for you to avoid hurting your feelings are not doing you any favors. If you are the kind of person who doesn’t like hearing negative feedback, then it’s not going to work.
Some of the tough questions you want answers to:
• Where do you see me fitting into this organization in the next 1-2 years?
• Can I hope to transition to the next level of responsibility anytime soon?
• What skill, attitude or specialization am I lacking for doing the next higher job?
• Are these being planned in any training and development for me?
• Are there near term plans for organization’s expansion or diversification?
Many of the tougher questions are those you have to ask yourself by looking at what seems to work in the organization and if you have what it takes to do those things.
Some of these may be genuine changes you need to make to get better as a professional and a potential corner office person, while in some cases there maybe things you may find unsavory – office politics, for instance. There is no gain in being naïve about it and wasting more years if it’s the latter and it goes against your grain to do it to get ahead.
If there are genuine professional changes that you do need to make to be part of C level, then you might as well buckle down to it by :
• Getting training and development inputs in those areas
• Getting a good mentor or coach (even if you have to pay for it yourself!)
• Constantly seeking candid feedback on your progress from peers/boss/spouse
• Interviewing for suitable opportunities within and even outside the organization
If you do the right things and do those things right, there is always light at the end of the tunnel and one can only hope it’s not an approaching train. However, the last thing you want to do is to get frustrated and quit in high dudgeon without a job in hand. Except in the most buoyant job market, which it isn’t in the last few years, recruiter’s inboxes are flooded with middle managers who are unemployed and unfortunately in most cases, unemployable.
So hang in there, sharpen your axe, keep trying out and wait for the right break to come!