How to Advance in Your Career Even if You Aren’t the Boss Yet

Is there a way to advance your career even when you are not a manager, the BOSS yet? Career-advancement is a topic which often just relies on titles and the number of rungs one has climbed on the corporate ladder. In such a scenario when titles on paper matter so much, one might end up feeling stagnant even though the value one attaches their work is high.

Some people might be quite content with their current roles and they might be fearing a certain stagnation; they might be thinking: is this the limit to what one can do before their nature of work changes? Is there no way to continue doing the work they love and still advance in some other way?

Take for example a journalist who might enjoy reporting, and might be fearing the supposedly higher position of an editor where they will have to put a stop to their regular reporting, and actually manage teams and departments. Or a salesperson who loves to interact with clients and engage in selling, and as they become managers, they have to forego the sales part and end up handling administrative responsibilities.

There are many people who might be willing to take up a new challenge and yet, also might be fearing the new kind of responsibilities that come with such a higher, management position.

Is there a way to get over the stagnancy, to advance, without having to embrace a managerial position?

 Is there a way to advance in your career even if you aren’t the boss yet?

Turns out there are a few ways. Let us take a look at a few of those.

Look for In-Role Growth:

When a promotion to a managerial position seems to be on the horizon, it is a good idea to talk to your seniors and mentors within the company and be honest about your values and what kind of advancement means more to you. There are roles and opportunities which can be tailored especially for you. There are roles like an in-bound consultant and/or the expert, where you can have a ‘promotion’ within the role, get around the sense of stagnancy and yet continue to do the work that you value. All without or with very minimal managing to do.

A way to stay in the company, get promoted without having to take up a managerial position is to become a mentor or a trainer for new joinees. You will not only get to use your expertise, but also impart it to others. This can be as “satisfying” as the promotion you didn’t go for.

Looking Elsewhere:

You can be a ‘bigger fish in a smaller pond’, or you might as well look for a ‘bigger pond’. As an article by the Muse goes on to explain, one might need to take a leap and look for other options where there is scope for growth in other aspects. Growth and advancement in career can be found in:

  • A leap to a bigger company/brand
  • A leap to a bigger market
  • An increase in your client pool

In simple words, it could be as simple as switching to a company that has a larger reach and more prestige. But if that sounds like a turning your back on your current company that has given you so much, and a risk at your well-earned independence, then the next option might look more pleasant.

Take the Independent Route:

If one feels that they have enough experience, networking skills and potential clients ready, a great step into career advancement is consulting. An independent consultant will have the autonomy and hands-on work to learn more and more on the job. They will have the liberty to pay attention to their work and their clients. At the same time, they will also have a better sense of control, as opposed to someone who might be on managerial position constantly needing to check on their team members.

And consulting is something that can be done full-time or part-time: it could become a side hustle, and eventually, perhaps a full-fledged retirement plan.

The position of the ‘the boss’ comes with its own perks and advantages. Some of us might be game for it, while some of us might be looking for growth and advancement in other ways. Some of us might be getting a little impatient and looking to overcome the sense of stagnancy. At the end of the day, it is all about being honest about the kind of work which has more personal value for you. It is about keeping the learning curve rising. Any kind of role, whether that of a managerial or non-managerial kind will have its own set of challenges; it’s up to us how we want to shape our career using those challenges.

Lessons to Learn from 2020

The year 2020 is finally coming to an end. To say this year had its ups and downs would be at best an understatement, and at worst, plainly wrong for all of us who had more downs than ups.

The year 2020 is finally coming to an end, and we are in a position to look back. And boy did it not teach us so much!

So, without further ado, let us take a look at the lessons 2020 taught us, professional ones as well as about life in general.

There is Never a Wrong Time to Learn Something:

It is always, always a good idea to keep learning, to keep upskilling, to keep upgrading.

You never know which skill or skillset you might have to end up using. Tons of people of the older generation who learned about new technologies and got a hang of it before the pandemic (and the Zoom meetings) hit us must have felt thankful towards their past selves. Similarly, tons of new graduates who got very limited opportunities at internships and training this year must have heaved a sigh of relief when they would have realised that the one-month certificate course they took up randomly to pass time was the reason they got selected.

Always be Prepared, but you can never be prepared Enough:

It is good to be prepared. Having plan Bs and plan Cs is a good idea. Like we talked about in one of our previous articles, in a VUCA situation like this, being prepared for the worst-case scenario is necessary even when you feel like the odds are really low. You never know.

But it is also something paradoxical about the VUCA situation which makes any amount of preparedness inadequate. And it is during these times that it becomes necessary to be flexible, and be ‘prepared’ to change plans, professional or personal.

The year was all about being flexible and adaptable.

It’s Not in Your Head, the Fatigue is Real:

A lot of us found ourselves working from home during this time. Initially, we might have been happy to ditch the commute, and attend meetings in pyjamas. We were happy to have time for ourselves. But before we knew it, work started to take over our homes. The line between work hours and hours of leisure began to blur; the days seemed to be merging into each other, with each day looking the same.

Overwork and exhaustion lead to burnouts, and it is not something to be taken lightly. Whether you are at home or at the office, it is necessary to take breaks, and not feel guilty for not working all the time. The year 2020 taught us that fatigue is real, and it is not always about making excuses. It taught everyone to look out for their colleagues, to communicate, to celebrate as and when they can, however small the achievement might be.

Everything can be Figured Out:

As the title of the book by Marie Forleo says it all, ‘Everything is Figureoutable’. This is probably the biggest takeaway from 2020. We thought we would not be able to take the stress, the sudden changes in our lives, the sudden worries about our loved ones, the sudden joblessness or the suddenly hectic routine, whichever side of the coin you found yourself on.

But here we are. Despite the losses we suffered this year, despite the crashing of plans, despite the vulnerabilities we found ourselves faced with, we have made it. We found the compromises; we found the middle grounds. We accepted the situation, and we tried to remain as grateful as we possibly could.

We are more prepared than ever to keep going. We have no illusions about the coming year, and we are ready to take it head on. Everything can be figured out, indeed.