Do you feel stuck in your career path? How do you kick this career rut out of your way and get moving towards being a partner? Career lulls can happen to any professional. However, they tend to affect senior-level managers more than any other group level. Why? Because lawyers, accountants, and consultants at this level tend to be comfortable with their position and privileges. They may be wary of both change and inertia so they begin to feel stuck. Plus, and let’s be honest, you may not be absolutely sure you want to take the next step up. If you feel stuck on your career path and like you can’t get out of this career rut, here are 3 ways that you can kick start your career so that you can start moving towards being a partner.
3 ways to kick your career rut to the curb
Develop your strengths
One of the reasons that you experience career rut at senior manager level is that you have become complacent. Without realising, you might be basking in the “good enough” level. Instead, you should be thinking about how you can venture into the great. The best way to overcome this barrier that has you in this career rut is to identify your unique strengths. Only then can you harness them to perform better and reach your highest potential. To discover your strengths:
- Identify suitable respondents both at work and at home and ask for feedback.
- Recognise patterns among the feedback that you have received.
- Write a description based on the feedback, including your own self-observations, about who you are when you are performing your best.
- Redesign your job and start leveraging your strengths to perform better and aim for higher roles within your firm.
Going through this process will not only help you understand why you are perhaps not performing your best at work, but it will also give you an insight into what you need to do to get back on the path to partner. Being a good senior associate or senior manager is not enough to get identified as partner potential, or someone who should be put on the short list in a Big 4 firm for promotion. To be identified as ready for promotion to legal director, director or even associate partner or partner means you need to be acting, thinking and feeling as if you are already at the next level. A great way to formally develop your strengths is to create your career action plan.
Create a business plan for YOU
One of the easiest ways to navigate yourself out of a career rut is to strategise. Start by developing a business plan for you. Just like a business plan, you need to outline your why and your goals and then outline the actionable steps that you need to take to get there. Here are a few ideas for creating your business plan to partner:
- Network and build support both internally and externally – you want to be forming strong relationships with key decision-makers such as the current executive management, board members and investors, and key clients.
- Get on projects that clearly drive the bottom line – if your results clearly drive the bottom line (revenues, cost and/or profitability), then you will get noticed within your firm. Get hands-on with the right types of jobs.
- Drop or delegate work that you don’t like doing – maybe you are stuck at senior management level because you are spending too much time on work that you either dislike or on tasks that are below your level of expertise. Drop or delegate these.
- Build your reputation – attend industry events, visit LinkedIn and scout out what other senior managers or people on the level above you are doing, join a cause you care about.
Keep up to date with the industry
Another reason why many professionals are stuck in middle management is that they don’t see what’s happening in the greater industry they work in. They tend to live in their little bubble, not seeing any opportunities or evidence that things can change. To break through to the executive level and start moving towards being a partner, you need to be keeping up-to-date with your industry. Here are a few ways to do that:
- Read literature in your field.
- Lead a lunch session on trends in the industry.
- Read and even write articles for the company newsletter.
- Take on new projects that give you an insight into other departments and how the company works as a whole.
- Join a mastermind group with professionals outside of the company but within your industry.
Get out of career rut and start progressing to partner
Whatever your situation, if you can tap into unrecognised and unexplored areas of potential within yourself, if you create a solid business strategy for yourself and start looking ahead at the bigger picture, you can get out of your career rut so that you can pave your own path to partner.