Working your way out of a promotion

Career_in_a_Box[1]He was a tireless worker, delivering results above and beyond the call of duty. He was one of the top sales people; a legend in the sales organization. He boasted about the number of hours spent on the job and the number of customer calls made. He wanted to impress management with his work ethic, unyielding dedication to the job and the company. However, his managers were arriving at a startling conclusion. Whereas, they marveled at his drive, stamina and dedication, they were worried about his self-imposed workload; they could not risk promoting him to be a manager.

Jack thought he was impressing people in power, but he was sabotaging his career. Managers speak about greater production and engagement. He had both of these attributes at very high levels. Prevailing wisdom said, “There is no way we can make him a manager. He would expect others to work as hard as he does. He would kill people or chase them away.”

The management team also thought that it would be hard to replace his production. He was performing the work of two people. He was inadvertently destined to become an “individual contributor,” for as long as he was an employee. The individual contributor label made it virtually impossible for him to shed for it meant he was not seen as management material. Jack was ambitious. This moniker was devastating to him. He tried several tactics to change the reputation he had earned. His strategy was to model his behavior after other hard-working superstars. He had to answer questions, “What was hard work?” and “What was excessive?”

In today’s marketplace, he would not stand out as much, because everyone is being asked to do more with less and to allow their job to encroach upon their personal space. Nonetheless, people are still being denied promotions because of an excessive work ethic and perceived lack of flexibility. The advice received by Jack and others like him can be useful for workaholics and other ambitious employees.

Work / life balance

Convey a balanced life when discussing your home life while at work. If it is appropriate to talk about personal matters, you can disclose information about family activities. Discussion about involvement in school functions or the athletic pursuits of your family are fair game. Information about your hobbies and weekend recreation, as well as religious and community involvement shows you are a well-rounded person. If you are single, you can still demonstrate your interests in extra-work activities, to project someone who is more than an employee.

Employers want people who are dedicated and engaged on the job, but they also want people who have full lives, because in the end they make more productive employees.

Leadership

Individual contributors can demonstrate their leadership skills through their social interactions and civic duties. Discussing these matters at work gives you a chance to showcase leadership skills and instincts. Consulting with your managers about managerial scenarios in your church, associations or civic work can help people become comfortable with your work ethic and empathy for others. You can discuss leadership books and online programs and ask to attend seminars on your own time to project your interest.

Additionally, you may find it prudent to divert some of the effort and energy into projects outside of work to give you a greater sense of purpose and significance. Volunteer activities are useful on your internal and external resume. They also help you expand your social and professional network.

Candid Career Conversations

Career discussions with your manager and mentors will uncover instances of over powering your management with tales of sacrifice to complete a task. It may be wise to tone down some of the stories about late night projects and spending weekends to over produce. The time stamp on e-mail messages may also signal working at unreasonable hours. Allow your record to speak for itself. Even though you may be a workaholic, you do not want to brag about it. People have been known to think, “Why won’t he get a life?” “The job is all he has.” “She doesn’t have a family, so she can afford to give all of her time to work.”

A powerful work ethic is desired in an employee. Management strives to fill their teams with individuals matching this profile. However, you do not want to stunt your career growth because you represent an image that causes your managers to believe you would subject everyone to draconian, unrealistic and unrelenting standards in performing their jobs. They fear you will chase employees away and damage the morale and engagement levels of whatever team you are assigned to manage. If you do not address these concerns, you may not fulfill your career objectives to achieve a management position.

Copyright © 2013 Orlando Ceaser

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