Have you ever found yourself stuck in a job? No matter how hard you work, exceed expectations, receive high marks on annual reviews, are well-liked by co-workers and the boss often praises you, you still have yet to be promoted.
You may be somewhat relieved to know it’s not just happening to you. There’s actually a known practice of bosses keeping employees cemented in their current positions to prevent them from moving up within the company. The practice is referred to as “career stalling” or “career blocking.”
This occurs when a boss recognizes your talents and abilities and knows you are doing all the best work. Consequently, the supervisor desperately wants to hold onto you, as they’ll be lost without their main driving force. There’s a fear that if the worker leaves, they’ll be found to be an imposter after taking credit for all the achievements made by the staffer.
What Happens When Your Boss Holds You Back
Being forced to stay in the same position for an extended period ultimately leads to feelings of stagnation and frustration. The worker will eventually start feeling resentful. Soon, they will lose motivation and become disengaged.
Career stalling is harmful to a person’s career. They’re purposely prevented from learning, growing, forging new relationships and advancing up the corporate ladder.
Being blocked from actualizing your true potential over time can harm your mental health and emotional well-being. There’s a high risk of becoming bored, despondent, depressed and losing self-confidence when an employee feels “locked-in”—being in a non-preferred workplace while at the same time perceiving low employability.
The Harvard Business Review refers to these work-related issues as the “Great Frustration.” With the economic downturn, widespread layoffs, inflation cutting into paychecks, challenges finding a new white-collar job and worries over the ascendancy of artificial intelligence, people are becoming unhappy at work. Job dissatisfaction is at a record high, with 60% of workers reporting feeling “emotionally detached” from their jobs, and 50% feeling stressed daily, according to Gallup’s 2023 State of the Global Workforce report.
What You Should Do About It
After a while, one of two options will happen. The employee will reach a point where they can’t take it any longer. They’ll either find a new job and quit or go to senior management and human resources to report their concerns.
You need to face this problem head-on. Even if you feel uncomfortable, you must set up a meeting with your boss, HR and corporate executives to inform them of what is going on and how your career is being hindered. Let them know what is happening and show any documentation, evidence and data you can produce.
Suggest job crafting. This concept involves redesigning your current role to align with your strengths and interests. Along with your manager and others, you can tailor your daily job responsibilities toward something that provides meaning, fulfillment and growth.
The outcome of the conversations will dictate the next steps. They may be understanding, apologize for what’s been happening and enact changes to get you a promotion, raise and higher corporate title. If you feel that the key players are not interested in helping you, then you have your answer—it’s time to find another opportunity with a company that appreciates you.
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I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, simple, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real deal. world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.
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