How to grow in your company when there’s no room for growth and likely never will be

How to grow in your company when there’s no room for growth and likely never will be

It used to be simple. Get hired right out of college, work hard in your role, and be rewarded with all the ingredients that make up job advancement: higher job title, salary increase, and words of encouragement. It used to be A + B equals C.

Now, there isn’t a formulaic equation for success. These days, no two jobs are alike, nor do they have the same make-up of job advancement that we used to associate with it. New graduates are overwhelmed by job options, and they must forge a path for themselves different from paths carved a generation ago, while employees that have been with a company for years must find new ways to shine when internal growth isn’t a guarantee.

So, what happens if job advancement isn’t in your future and there’s no potential for a higher job title, or more pay? How can you create your own opportunities for growth in your company when there’s no room for growth in your department, and you’ve been told there likely never will be?

How do you design your own equation for success?

The answer: you redesign the equation.

Whether you work for a 70-plus person company, a 10-person company, or a 100-plus person company, there are many ways you can differentiate yourself even when there isn’t a designated promotion or salary increase to work towards.

Here are just a few of the ways you can grow in your current role and your department when the odds are against you:

  1. Network, network, network

    This can’t really be said enough. Build relationships with your team members, and if you don’t have team members per say, i.e. you work remotely or for a small start-up and the team is made up of one other person, then find some professional development associations, clubs to join, or networks of individuals who share the same professional interests as you to meet with outside of your work day.

    For example, say you have an area of professional interest or a new skill you would like to develop and expand upon, but you don’t have the means or the resources to learn it in your current role. You know it would be beneficial to have this extra skill set and valuable in terms of continuing to grow in your current position.

    If you do some research, you might find there is a group dedicated to professionals just like you to learn this skill. Maybe this group has a workshop you can sign up for, or perhaps they have a weekly meeting you can attend. In addition to learning a new skill, you could meet many interesting professionals just like yourself, learn about their own career journeys, and inherit a group of new contacts outside of your usual circle.

  2. Don’t stop asking for new opportunities

    There might not be growth in your current role or department now but that doesn’t mean it will always be that way. If you’re constantly putting yourself out there for new opportunities, and stepping up when your team needs it, your name might be called upon down the line if something does present itself.

    Don’t stop asking for new opportunities. And just as important, keep in mind that it’s not just about asking the question, but about asking the right questions. Don’t just ask “how can I advance?” when you’ve already been informed there is currently no potential for growth. Instead, look at the bigger picture.

    Ask your coworkers for professional feedback, and gain perspective as to how they got to where they are. Ask them to keep you in mind if they see an opportunity for you to participate in a meeting or on a project. Making yourself heard is a great way to pave the way for growth.

    Be honest about what you want, but also about where you can improve

    Telling your manager exactly what you want out of your career and outlining your professional goals is crucial.

    It’s equally just as important to take inventory of what your strengths and weaknesses are. How can you improve and make yourself a better employee? How can you continue to demonstrate that you are an indispensable addition to your team?

  3. Stay proactive

    In addition to staying on top of your existing responsibilities, stay proactive.

    If you see an area that could be improved upon, such as tweaking an outdated procedure, or have an idea for a new project, go for it. Don’t fall behind on the things you are responsible for but also don’t be afraid to go to your manager with a fresh take or look on things. Demonstrate that you aren’t just interested in your own growth but that you’re also interested in the growth of your entire department.

  4. Stay positive

    It’s easy to feel down when your prospects for growth are slim. But, staying positive can prove to be a powerful force for not only the sake of your own mentality but also for setting yourself apart within your department.

    If you prove yourself to be a positive addition to your team by remaining upbeat when times get tough, this trait will be remembered time and again and an opportunity for growth might just inevitably follow.

    Maybe it won’t be a higher job title or salary increase but some types of growth don’t follow the typical “equation.”