My boss likes me so much that he wants to keep me so that I’ll continue to be of value to him. In so doing, I’m not able to develop myself and to advance in my career. I graduated with honors from a good school and had no problem getting a job in my present company which I joined five years ago as a management trainee. After one year with my current boss, he promoted me to be his executive assistant, a position I’ve held for four years now. He lavishes compliments on me for the work I do and gives me high performance appraisal ratings. I receive performance bonuses. So I have no problem with him re: receiving appreciation, recognition and financial rewards. My big problem is: he wants to keep me as his executive assistant and in his department because he considers me “my right hand whom I trust completely.” Meanwhile, one of my two batchmates had gone far in their career: one has been promoted to department manager – the same level as my boss, and the other one has risen to a senior technical position in the company.
I want to be considered for higher positions and to advance in my career but my being a valued employee of my boss has become a stumbling block. What shall I do?
Mr. Career Stuck
What’s stopping you from opening up to your boss and telling him what you want in your career and seeking his help in getting what you want?
Have a Career Plan First. Before you approach him, be clear about where you want to go in your career and in your life. This way, you will not be merely reacting to the promotion to department head of your batchmate. Your career plan includes being clear about your career goal and plotting your career path to achieve this goal. Your career goal should take into consideration:
(1) Knowing yourself: your skills/competencies which you enjoy using; and a clear vision of your ideal job/career because this will reflect your interests, needs and values;
(2) Knowing what positions and in what department in your company will enable you to achieve this goal;
(3) Knowing the competencies of each position, and comparing these with what you currently possess so that you can see the gap that you must address through training and development efforts and relevant work experience, which is not in your current job.
Contents of Your Career Plan. Your career plan must contain the following items:
- Career Goal. This must be stated in a SMART way, i.e., specific, measurable, attainable, relevant (to your values and needs) and time bound. Example: To occupy a marketing manager position in this company or in some other company by end of 2014.
- Career Path. Sequence of positions to be held to achieve your career goal.
- Competencies required for each position.
- Training and development and work experience required to gain these competencies. In addition to training (for short courses), cross-posting, job rotation, getting a graduate degree, etc. are sources of your professional development.
- Action Plans and when you will do each of them. Action plans include doing research on the positions in the company that are relevant to your career goal, the competencies required, making an appointment with your boss, etc., and the dates to do these.
Be Assertive. The reason why you are stuck in your current work situation is because you have allowed your boss to manage your career by being your non-assertive. When you go and see him, you must be clear about your career plan and your career path so that you can be assertive in expressing what you want and the help you will request from him. Then, request your boss to recommend you to the head of the department that you want to join in line with your career goal.
In case he will not recommend you, ask him if you can get the help of your HR Head to facilitate your transfer. Another option is for you to apply directly to the department head. Be prepared to get an entry level job in the new department and from there work your way up.
I don’t know what your corporate culture is regarding interdepartment transfers. If the culture is one that believes in putting the right person in the right career to benefit both the company and the person, then you’ll have no problem. Companies nowadays value their talented and high producing employees and would do everything to keep them rather than to lose them to other companies.
God bless you.
Josie O. Santamaria