A Stall in the Hall

bob

A Stall in the Hall

You would think that anyone who has a job these days would be insanely happy. Instead, many current jobholders are simply insane. Unsatisfied with the pleasures of having a place to go every weekday from nine to five, however inhospitable, and a paycheck, however minuscule, these over-achievers are chomping at the bit — the bit that we call “promotions.”
“When Your Rising Star Stalls” is the title of a recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Joann S. Lublin. As Lublin puts it, “Getting ahead at work is getting harder nowadays. It isn’t just because belt-tightening companies are slashing management layers and freezing salaries. Blame postponed promotions, too.”
Putting our heads into the question of why you can’t get ahead, Lublin pins the blame squarely where it belongs — on the teeny-tiny little heads of our overlords. Not content with holding us back during flush times, this arid economic environment has provided management with a brand new way to break our spirits. And the best part is…they don’t have to do anything.
“Stalled promotions are growing more common largely because depressed stock values have delayed Baby Boomers’ exits,” Lublin reports. “About 44% of individuals 50 or older plan to postpone retirement, with half of those planning to work at least three years longer than previously expected.”
You can thank Watson, Wyatt Worldwide, Inc. for that depressing factoid. Their survey results are confirmed by John Beeson of Beeson Consulting. “The postponed promotion phenomena is a reality,” Beseon believes. “You basically have blockage at every level. Promotions won’t come back soon.”
The result is a “clogged promotion pipeline.” Fortunately for all you clogs out there, there is career Drain-O.
Some blocked workers, having found themselves unable to push their way through the hairball that is senior management, decide they need to jump to another pipe altogether. Unfortunately, promotional pipes are being blocked all over the country thanks to incompetent managers who have shown themselves equally incapable of managing their investment portfolios.
While it is certainly understandable that the blockheads who run our companies would show the same lack of intelligence when buying blocks of stocks, it is frustrating to find
that many of the companies who could offer you employment are stuck in their own messy morass of managers who are staying in place until their 401k’s recover.
If unable to reach the next rung on the corporate ladder, executive coach Donna Schwarz suggests you use this down time to “increase your value.” According to Schwarz, you should “ask your supervisor if there are ways that you can get some of the experience without the title.”
Of course, you’ll be doing all this extra work without getting a paycheck, either, but that could be OK, suggests couch Schwarz, if you are learning new skills and strengthening your resume.
No question you could handle the duties of a more exalted position in your firm. You can make stupid decisions as well as the next cube rat, and when it comes to giving raises or compliments, you know how to say “no.” You may not have the ability to duck responsibility like a matador, but that would come with practice.
The problem with taking on extra executive duties is that you are enabling the current corner-office squatter to have an even easier life than they ever had before. That’s not only wrong, it’s just plain annoying. And chances are, you’d sooner or later explode in rage or tears. Either way, it wouldn’t be pretty, or do much to “strengthen your resume.”
This leads to the concept of avoiding the tie-up on the career super-highway by taking a detour. Yes, I’m talking about the dreaded “lateral move.” It would be easy to transfer your unique skill set. Every department needs a lazy, surly gossip who has mastered the art of looking busy. (Every department except HR, that is. They’ve got a monopoly on the breed.)
“Taking a lateral move within the company may look like an admission of defeat,” says Lublin. “So make sure the new assignment enhances respected expertise.” It’s true. If you can make a mess of marketing as well as sales, you’ll surely be considered promotion material when the economy turns around.
For me, I say it’s better to stay where you are. You may not get promoted, but look on the bright side — you do have the satisfaction of knowing you are keeping some deserving young person below you from getting ahead.

 

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