A career plateau is reached when, despite having worked for a company for some time, you are experiencing no upward momentum in your career. This feeling is experienced for many reasons: you may have reached the highest possible level in your organisation; you may be feeling trapped in your position; or perhaps you simply no longer feel challenged or engaged by your work.

Factors such as organisational downsizing, a limited number of available positions, or even a lack of skills on the part of the employee can lead to plateaus. In experiencing a plateau, employees can feel bored and demotivated, which has a negative impact on the company’s productivity.

So what’s next?

The important thing to do is to see this moment as a fantastic opportunity to reassess and redefine your career goals and explore what your next move could be. If you are hoping to stay in the organisation, a lateral move to another department could be advantageous and provide a new challenge. For others, this plateau might be the motivation that you need to change careers, and start looking for jobs in a different sector. Either way, here are some tips that could help you achieve your goal and move past this frustrating stage.

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1. Reach out to others within your organisation

If you want to stay within the same company, but are frustrated with the limited scope of your current position, then it may be useful to look at potential opportunities or new roles that you could fill within the organisation. Do not be afraid to propose new plans or systems, as this can often lead to the creation of new opportunities, which might just be the challenge you need to move past the plateau.

2. Plan your next step

A career plateau provides the chance to re-evaluate your professional goals and plan the path that you will follow to get there. This is the time to ask yourself the following questions:

·       Why do I feel stuck in my current position?

·    Are there other departments where my skills would be better used? Can I transfer to that department?

·       If not, what are my possibilities outside the company?

·       What risks am I willing to take?

Once you have answered these questions, you will be well on the way to formulating a new career plan.

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3. Take stock of your skills

This step is important, as your skills will determine your options for growth. In moving forward, your skills base is your greatest asset. This may be the time to further your education and study something different, which is the best option for someone looking to change careers completely. If you want to stay in the same line of work, then it would be best to look at ways of honing your existing skills. For example, if you work as a retail manager, it may be beneficial to take a course in effective people management or supply chain management. This would be a good way to expand and diversify your skills set without deviating too much from your present career.

4. Approach a mentor

Often, a fresh perspective is needed to help you evaluate your current position and see your options more clearly. This may be a good time to find a mentor; someone who can motivate and inspire you. This person should be someone you can learn from, who is able to provide guidance as you navigate and escape the career plateau.

Lastly, remember that reaching a plateau does not need to signal the end of your career. Rather, it is an exciting new opportunity that can be the catalyst for professional and personal growth.

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