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Every day we are facing transformation: in the company, in people around, in yourself. 

In this article, I want to share my vision of employee development, and most importantly — to answer the question of what to do when you are at a career impasse.

Each career story has uniqueness — whether you run up the career ladder or circumstances move you. You are changing with every step, and your environment is changing as well. The path of your development as a specialist is unique, but each of us goes through approximately the same stages.

It is not a secret that there are a lot of periodizations of development, variations in career growth, and personal development. This article is both for those who are at the beginning of their career development and want to see potential opportunities and those who have already solid experience, but perhaps more and more are convinced that a career impasse is here.

Types of specialists

Newbie with fire in eyes. It is always very easy to recognize a newbie (and this is not about a person, who starts a job at a new company). For me, the best example is a trainee. In our company, we have internships and are not afraid to hire students and teach them. It’s my pleasure to see the involvement of such employees in the company.

I always notice their energy and eyes full of “fire” and curiosity when they are walking around. Yes, they don’t have experience or deep knowledge, but they are shining. They generate ideas, are involved and interested in everything, often have “rose-colored glasses” — no borders built by experience yet.  

Behind such an attractive external motivation we can find a less pleasant, but obvious side — the lack of practical skills and relevant knowledge. At this stage, newbies realize that they have no experience, but do not realize their incompetence. This is a stage of unconscious incompetence. The main task is to adapt the colleague to reality.

Transition to the next stage is very individual but is simple to be defined. Think back to the moment when your expectations meet reality. You begin to see the other side of the coin.

This state could be described as a disappointed learner. Support and taking responsibility for your professional future are key points at this stage. Professional and personal development is going on. 

Step by step conscious competence is growing. But mistakes and some negative experiences push the employee to be a cautious specialist. It is important to learn and share with colleagues on how to give feedback correctly, which would help in achieving the desired result.

The next step — independent professional. The level of competence is high enough, involvement is also increasing and a specialist becomes independent. But the development of professional skills is not the thing everyone strives for.

The development of any specialist goes through the stages mentioned above. But what is next? 

To answer, It’s important to go back to the beginning and remind yourself which career development option is yours.

Career development options

A career focused on money-earning — an employee wants to achieve a certain level of salary and exactly the money becomes crucial.

The opposite position, when status development becomes valuable. The prestige of his position comes at the forefront.

The other option of a status career is growing influence.

Another development variant is a horizontal career — deepening into functionality and the possibility of migration to other areas, expertise expanding.

One of the most popular development options is the symbiosis of status development and horizontal career. We can call it a “stepped career”.

But what if this self-determination doesn’t help you? It seems that you already have enough experience and knowledge, but somehow you… stuck? Welcome to career impasse.

Career impasse

You are not inspired by what you are doing now and you cannot get what you want. The reasons for getting into сareer impasse are different. I propose to consider a “problem-solution” format of four key-issues based on my experience.

Reason # 1: Your company doesn’t have the position you want to occupy.

There is a leader above you. The main feature of this problem is the lack of growth. This may be due to market stagnation, lack of vertical growth opportunities, or a family-owned company.

Solution: Set yourself a deadline, stop waiting. Analyze your position in the company, financial capabilities, and limitations. If you still have the urge to move up, follow your plan.

Reason # 2: Misconception of yourself as a “multi-tasking” specialist.

You have experience in different departments or different positions. It seems to you that your portfolio of competencies is balanced. However, 90% of the time, the company is taking care of people who really do their job at a high level.

Solution: Get back to what is truly yours and continue to develop professional competencies in this area. Professional career growth is guaranteed.

Reason # 3: You don’t like your manager and share this attitude with colleagues.

Don’t assume that no one knows about it, this is a behavioral problem that is difficult to hide.

Solution: work with yourself first and be aware of what really triggers you. The solution is usually in ourselves.

Reason # 4: performance efficiency.

This is the most common reason for a career impasse. You are probably doing your best for the company’s success, but there is no movement.

Solution: The last stage of your life, where efforts are more important than results, was elementary school. If you don’t see the first three problems in yourself, then you are simply not good enough to take a higher position. Probably you don’t know the real state of things. You are not visible enough! 

How to improve your “visibility”

1.Overdo. It is not enough just to meet the expectations, it is important to go beyond them.

2. Take a challenge. Work with different tasks, especially those of them that not everyone is ready to deal with.

3. Get supporters. Build credibility with your peers. If you have followed rules 1 and 2, then your supporters will automatically appear.

4. Develop. Learn new, be on the same page with the world. If you don’t know what the new framework looks like, find out!

5. Find mentors. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do.

6. Accept others, doesn’t matter how difficult it could be. Translate your views and approaches in a positive way.


Instead of a conclusion

Remember why you came to the company and what inspires you every day! 

We all go through different stages, different goals lead us while obstacles make us stronger and stronger. Don’t be afraid to step forward and reach new heights!