Feeling down on the job: Give it a chance

Will Lukang, PMP, CSM, CLDC

Reaching OutSometimes we feel like we were passed up on an opportunity to take on a big project, selected to work on a new project, a promotion, or were not provided a career path that could help us advance our career.  You’re in a bad situation and you feel like you’ve dedicated many years with the company and yet nothing came your way.   Worse yet, you’ve seen other folks being offered those opportunities you’ve missed and those folks succeeded making progress with their careers.

You could be a victim of the situation of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or perhaps you report to a manager who does not care about the development of their people, or your manager is ill equipped to focus on developing their people because they themselves never received appropriate training to do so, or the economic situation limits the opportunity because of the financial challenge your employer is experiencing.   While the reasons are valid, you still feel like you got the short end of the stick.

So, how do you go about making the change that can improve your situation?  You can speak to your manager to find out what you can do to make it to the next level.  Ask for guidance and come up with a plan.   If your manager is not receptive, you need to decide if you still want to work for the company.   If you want to work for the company, seek other opportunities within the organization.  However, if you’re not interested, you need to decide if it is time to move on.   Sometimes people get stuck by holding out hope that things will be better.    But the reality is that we’re responsible for our career.   We own our career development and the manager or company can only help by providing the training or the opportunity to achieve our goal.  It all starts with our own initiative.

In case you have a new manager, seek your manager’s advice and discuss your situation.   However, don’t expect your manager to pay for the sin of the past and retroactively make adjustments for you.   You need to prove that you deserve that opportunity and the reward that comes with it.    It is important that you recognize that you need to establish trust with your new manager.

I recently was on a receiving end of a frustrated employee who felt that I must correct the situation for him.   It is unjust for that person to expect that he will be rewarded unless he proves that he deserves it.   As his manager, I can only vouch for his work during the time we are working together.   Just like a stock in the stock market, prior performance does not guarantee any future performance.    Unfortunately having a bad attitude can never help your cause; it can only put people off.  You need to understand that trust is earned and not given.   If you don’t demonstrate the behavior that shows you deserve the reward, it will be difficult to achieve you goal.   It is essential to step back and give your new manager a chance to make it happen for you.

There is a tendency for us to feel that we were wronged, but you need to step back and take a deep breath.   If you report to someone new, you need to earn their trust.   You might ask why you need to earn their trust; without establishing a working relationship it is impossible for your new manager to ascertain if your claim was legitimate.   Give the person a try and take ownership of your career development.   Keep an open mind and make it happen.   If you’re truly unhappy, it is time to move on.


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