I’m the poster boy for a derailed career path. I discovered the hard way that people are terminated, not for the lack of competency, rather for the lack of cultural fit and personal chemistry with the immediate manager. It took me a while (and perhaps you, as well) to eventually realize that I, alone, was accountable for my exit. You are probably derailing if you:
1. Lack Widespread Endorsement
You could be the most competent person in your company, but if you don’t/can’t build widespread organizational endorsement, you are at profound risk if your relationship with your boss stalls out.
TIP: Look for ways to support/endorse your boss and other cross-functional colleagues.
2. Deflect Accountability
Excuses don’t cut it, nor does blaming others. Many employees are emotionally devastated (enraged and/or depressed) after being involuntarily separated. However, with a bit of probing, they admit that they were bored, disenchanted, or did not meet performance expectations or manage their relationships well enough. Invariably, displaced individuals thought of exiting, long before they are asked to. Nevertheless, they were usually upset that the company pulled the trigger before they did. I know I was.
TIP: Own your exit, regardless of how badly you feel about your circumstances. I personally discovered that there is no power in being victim.
3. Are Overwhelmed & Stressed Out
How you act will have a direct and profound impact on your career longevity. Career uncertainty and distress often bring out the worst in people. If you are feeling overwhelmed and more than a little panicked, it may manifest itself as your pushing others around – being a bully. Take a breath. Lighten up. Apologize for any disempowering behavior. Visualize what success might look like. Identify 3 positive steps you could take right now to get back on track.
TIP: Begin to be seen as confident and competent in the manner you’d like others to believe. Start again.
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Sometimes, even if you do all of the above, your position is still eliminated for other reasons. I had the support of other cross functional managers and coworkers – they are still shocked by the decision made. I was the “calming” one in the middle of stressful situations. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your position is the one eliminated to make room for new positions which will take the company in another direction. I do believe that everything happens for a reason. “Life events” have occurred since my last day which would have caused me great stress or I would have had to make decisions I would have struggled with. I’m sure that the job that is right for me is out there waiting for me…for the right time in my life to provide the correct focus. I’m praying daily and having faith that I will recognize it when it is offered.