Want to keep your job? Learn 5 ways to grow.







By: Lou McAlister, Senior Consultant

You have a job you want to keep. Sometimes you think about quitting it to work in a nicer office, have a shorter commute, get a raise, or enjoy some of the perks you read about (nap pods, anyone?). Then you think about how hard it was to get the job you have and remember how much easier it is to get a job if you have a job.

It dawns on you that you don’t want just another job. You want a better job than the one you have. That better job may be just around the corner. And it may be well within your reach.

For both employers and employees, there are some complicated dynamics to hiring, training, retention, and separation. For the sake of simplicity, let’s just say that you’re in a decent job with a decent company and you don’t see the end coming yet. Still, you want some growth and some challenge. Maybe even some security.

Here are five ways to grow your job while you avoid stagnation, learn something new, deliver additional value, and either position yourself for a promotion, or build your resume for that next career step.

1. Be alert and tune in.

The reason some people always seem to be in the right spot at the right time is because they are looking for that spot and that time. They understand that opportunity is like air – it is there all the time. Your job and company have opportunities. You have to tune in and be alert to what and where they are. Look around to get a sense of what’s going on.

2. Free up time in your schedule.

If your schedule is too tight to take advantage of an opportunity, you may miss it. Create space on your calendar that will allow you to take advantage of opportunities that are outside of your usual work. It is much easier to fill up your calendar than create space on it. It takes will power and discipline to leave those empty spaces alone. Sometimes you have to say no to yourself, if to no one else.

3. Volunteer for a project outside of your area.

Use some of that free time you created on your calendar to volunteer for a task force, committee, or project that is outside of your primary responsibility. (Yes, here is where you fill in the blanks created above.) Do this especially if, by working on the project, you learn something new, strengthen a weakness, meet new people, or get outside your comfort zone.

4. Learn about strategy, no matter what your job is.

Learn about the company’s strategy and how you can contribute to it. Try to see how your current job figures in to the overall picture. Imagine yourself in each of the jobs in the hierarchy of the company. This change in perspective will help you understand why your current job exists. Each career step up the ladder requires more vision and strategic thinking. Start building that skill early.

5. Learn to prioritize and delegate.

Growing in your job requires that you learn to prioritize and delegate. Some things don’t need to be done at all. Some things don’t need to be done by you. You need to know which ones are which. If something doesn’t really need doing, forget it. Get it off of your list. That’s easier said than done for a lot of people. Some people are task hoarders. They hang on to stuff that is meaningless at best and harmful at worst. If it doesn’t need doing, don’t do it.

Delegation is another matter. Even the most capable person can’t do everything that needs to be done. There are capabilities, talents, skills, and time to consider. You may be good, but you may not be the best. You may be the best, but you may be needed in another area to fill in a hole. Delegation is about directing others to do things instead of you doing those things. You have to learn to trust others. You have to learn to accept certain results. You have to learn how to adjust. As you rise in an organization, you become more responsible for its results while performing fewer of its tasks.

As with learning about strategy, it is best to begin learning how to prioritize and delegate early.

Start immediately. You will find more satisfaction in what you are doing. You will become more valuable to yourself and to your company. You’re not going to work in your current job or at your current company forever.