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Kicking the false ceiling

Career stagnation is like getting wrinkles… some get them early, some later, but eventually most people do. But there are a few who stagnate on account of false ceilings that they have managed to build over the years. False Ceiling is a syndrome I use for hurdles that are self-crafted by individuals to obstruct his/her career.

Do you identify with any of these?

  • No self-realization

I always wondered how did Ram Gopal Verma allow ‘Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag’ to release. Have seen many such who simply don’t have an internal mirror or sometimes have a distorted one. They are unable to introspect and evaluate themselves objectively. Some of the symptoms:

  • They will blame something or someone else for a mishap, but rarely themselves
  • They seem to speak a different language when you give them feedback
  • They try to constantly justify their actions
  • They give themselves the Top Rank on all aspects in their Self Appraisals and Self evaluations
  • If they don’t get selected in an interview, it’s the interviewer’s fault (read lack of skills)
  • A more severe disorder is when they are trying to figure out imaginary conspiracies against them.

Not knowing or acknowledging your weakness is the first coat of the false ceiling. Your development can happen only when you know what needs to be developed

  • No awareness of strengths

You are playing a blind game of Poker, heavily dependent on your luck if you don’t know your strengths

A quick test. When someone asks you what your strengths are, do you respond with one of the following?

  • ‘I am hard working and dedicated’.
  • ‘What can I say, you should ask my team’.
  • You can think of only domain knowledge as your strength. ‘My strength is Java and C++’. ‘My strength is banking knowledge’.

If yes, you need to reflect more. Ask yourself… Are you a problem solver, are you good at gaining customer’s confidence, are you able to work well with large cross-functional teams, are you able to make process improvements etc etc. And if you said yes to all these questions, please refer Point 1. Knowing what you do best is most important to choose the right job, to apply for the right internal transfer and to feel confident while dealing with a challenge.

  • Waiting for the Big Bang

There are some who feel it’s the organization, the management and God who has to take care of their growth. Are you one of these?

  • They will pass on Internal Job Postings until someone personally approaches them for it
  • They will wait for their boss to give them a bigger role
  • They will wait for the HR team to nominate them for a training
  • They will wait for recruitment firms to contact them

Waiting for someone else to take charge of your career, is like waiting for the police to come in the 80s and 90s Hindi movies. They will make it only at the fag end of the climax scene when all is over. The easiest thing to do is go to your boss and ask for higher responsibilities.

  • Comfort zone

Are you a victim of your own inertia? Do you worry about change and challenges? Do you say:

  • Now at this age I can’t change
  • What can I do I am made like this
  • I don’t know anything about that new job
  • Already I am leaving work late, I don’t want more headache

Volunteer for tough jobs… push yourself to beat the status-quo. A famous leader once said ‘Jo dar gaya samjho mar gaya’

  • Ignoring people skills

Are you a professional marathon runner? If not, you need people skills. But do you hear yourself saying:

  • My super boss doesn’t know me because I am a ‘silent worker’
  • I believe in just doing my work well. I don’t need to make friends here
  • My work should speak for itself

As you grow higher in your career, the importance of knowledge diminishes and that of your interpersonal skills increases. You need to communicate and collaborate.

So here’s how to make a winning Careerbiography. List down the following:

  1. Your Top 5 Functional Expertise
  2. Your Top 5 Behavioral or Soft Skills
  3. Your Top 5 Areas of Improvement (it should include both functional and behavioural areas)
  4. Your Career Ambition with a timeline
  5. What are the milestones/jobs you will need to undertake to reach your ambition
  6. What Training Programs should you enroll yourself for

Suggest you speak to a few trusted people and ask them for feedback. Tell them to be absolutely open and frank. And even if they say something that you think is not true. Do not defend it. Simply smile and introspect.

So the question is… Do you have the courage to know your limits and the purpose to go past them? A flying kick is all you need.