How to Avoid Career Stagnation

Posted by The Align Team on Jan 20, 2017 7:54:00 AM

Although career stagnation and feelings of complacency are rare in the entrepreneurial world, they can still occur, especially if your company is out of the start-up stage and finding it difficult to overcome plateaus.

When you didn’t get the funding you needed, the product kept having bugs you couldn’t fix, or your career simply isn’t at the point you envisioned you’d be at by this time, it might be difficult to avoid feelings of apathy and lack of progress. One study found that 64% of American working adults believe they have limited opportunities for growth and advancement within their current companies.

Although that number looks bleak, there are several ways that employees at all stages of an organization can reignite their careers and avoid career stagnation.

Revisit Your Goals

When you initially set your career goals, were they a little outside of your reach? Business consultant Jim Collins suggests that when goal-setting, both individuals and companies should identify their BHAG or Big Hairy Audacious Goal. This is your top priority or objective for the next 10-25 years. One of the most important things to keep in mind when identifying your BHAG is the likelihood that you will achieve it. Your BHAG should be something that pushes your team to new boundaries, with a 50-70% chance of success. If you’re feeling that you aren’t making progress, it might be because the primary objectives you identified were too simple or too difficult.

Download our free one-page strategic plan template to make sure your goals are on track. 


Learn a New Skill

Thanks to the Internet, you can learn a new ability in a matter of hours or days. There are plenty of free courses available on everything from financial skills to web design. Take the time to identify several key areas in which you can make personal improvements that will benefit your career. Whether it’s learning a new language or brushing up on your public speaking skills, there’s a class out there that can help improve your work performance.  Even reading just a couple of articles can help teach you something new and prepare you for success.

Inspire Innovation in Your Company

One of the biggest drivers of complacency is a feeling of boredom with the status-quo. While many processes are built to last, companies with the ability to innovate are more likely to stay ahead of their competition and adapt to changes in their industry. From collaborating with colleagues in different departments to rearranging your office’s layout, there are plenty of tactics to inspire innovation in your company. Even those outside of the leadership team can brainstorm new ideas and shake things up.

Communicate With Team Members

Find time to talk with your manager or colleague about why you might be feeling career stagnation. A frequent rhythm of communication helps team members stay aligned to company objectives and allows executives to address issues as soon as they arise. See if you can begin work on a new project or start using an under-utilized skill to help your company execute strategically.

While many entrepreneurs dismiss the idea of career stagnation, it can and does happen to team members at every level of a company. In order to see lasting success, take steps in your company to allow for learning and growth opportunities to avoid career stagnation. If it does occur, these tactics can help employees experiencing feelings of apathy to take on new responsibilities and rejuvenate their careers.


Topics: employee management, engagement, innovation

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