A participant in my workshop was telling me that he wanted to get one more promotion before he retires. His desire sounded quite fair! Curious me dug deeper and asked what would that give him. He candidly said, “I want it because otherwise it will be embarrassing if my son knows that I worked in such a low level”. In short “damage control” was the motivation behind. And this is not an isolated story, from the low level to high level, everywhere I hear a variation for this story. Growth is a very basic sense of self-esteem – and the recognition of growth is mostly coming from the organization’s manifestation – job promotion. In reality even if an employee is completing all the job responsibilities well, due to the pyramid structure not everyone will be able to grow by job promotions. If you are already disappointed about the lack for promotion, its time to shift the gear, better hold on to something more sustainable, your vision.
I agree, it is hard. After all you have done for the company why not get the recognition you deserve. Trust me, I have been there. There is a valid human reason to feel under recognized and unfairly treated. Once you have your ways of processing it, lets talk about an alternative strategy.
My definition of vision is, it is more generic than tied to a specific kind of organization. The concept of vision is so simple that it would make sense to anyone who lived 50 years ago and those who will be here 50 years from now. Imagine, you are a painter and you are going to draw a picture. You have a very rough idea of what you want to draw though you don’t have all the details yet. You start anyway with what you have. In the course of time you realize you need a finer brush, a new color that you don’t have in your stock. You go to the store to buy those. On your way back you see something and that gives you a new idea about the painting. Some days if you don’t have the color you want, you mix primary colors to make it work. Eventually that painting starts to take a shape, your family and friends can see it. They praise it, sometimes they question about it and give you their opinions. Some you find useful, some not so much. Eventually you complete it or you finish it as you want to move on. The finished product may not be exactly what you had wanted at the beginning, but it is still a picture and you being present in the process, by utilizing your creativity, by making choices and compromises totally made it a reality.
Let’s map the painting metaphor to your career, notice that you start somewhere (you initial education/interests/job/roles), along the way you find new brushes, colors and ideas (trainings/feedback/newly found passion/forced changes due to market changes). In the end you have a complete painting, driven by your creativity and passion, fine tuned by the feedback and current reality. What would it be like if you were to draw the picture solely because it was your job, because your manager wanted it or because you wanted to look good to your son? Don’t get me wrong, there are many kinds of jobs you can get just because you need the paycheck. But if you are a knowledge worker of today’s world (your job looks like the real candle problem as Dan Pink mentioned), you will have a hard to time to fulfill your sense of growth and need for creative contribution solely based on those external reasons. Damage control mindset may seem enough to jump the potholes on your way, but you will need the fuel from your vision to go the extra mile.