Has your career stalled? If it hasn’t yet, you’re fortunate. For most people, it’s not uncommon to have one’s career stall.
Don’t take it personally. Career stalls happen to some of the most capable people in the entertainment business.
Here’s the good news: A career stall doesn’t have to be catastrophic. In fact, a temporary career stall can provide the ideal launch pad to a spectacular second or third act.
At one time or another you’re likely to face one or more of these common entertainment industry stalls:
1) Lack of passion & desire for being in the industry
2) Failure to effectively network
3) Not understanding how the industry works
4) Not knowing how to sell yourself
5) Not having a plan and committing to your success
6) Insecurity & self-doubt
7) Having the wrong attitude
8) Failure to keep up with industry changes
9) The inability to survive the tough times
10) Giving up too soon
Forbes Magazine wrote an insightful article about this topic. Take a look at what they said:
1. Doing your job well. Fulfilling your job description is no longer enough to make you stand out, even if you perform exceptionally well. Truly indispensable contributors are able to rise up to the 30,000-foot level and see how their job supports the overall strategy of the organization. Example: Sandy’s job description calls for her, as receptionist, to answer the phone on the second ring, route calls politely and efficiently, greet guests courteously and professionally, and generally create good impressions for anyone calling or visiting the company. That all sounds good, but if Sandy understands that the company’s strategy is to profitably grow through increased sales, she will be on the alert for that prospective customer who wants to talk to his sales rep, Janet, who is on vacation. When the prospect calls with an urgent question about the big proposal Janet sent out just before leaving for the Bahamas, Sandy will NOT politely and efficiently send this call to voice mail! Instead, she will get someone from sales to deal with the call immediately, thereby increasing the chances of winning the deal. Can you do your job in ways that are more supportive of company strategy?
2. Keeping your boss happy. This career tactic worked well for a long time. Not any more. You now need to please your boss’s boss. If nobody above your direct supervisor can see your exceptional value, you are less likely to get a raise, bonus or promotion. You need to push your value up to a place in the org chart where leaders know how important it is to recognize and reward star performers. True story: Trey worked in the office of a construction company, and noticed that through a series of accounting errors the company was losing over $150,000 per year in profits. He came up with a no-brainer plan to capture that lost value, and eagerly proposed it to his boss. Trey was shocked when the response was, “You weren’t hired to worry about that stuff. Just do what I tell you to do and let the owners worry about the bottom line.” Trey dutifully obeyed and remained silent about his great idea—until his boss’s boss came into the office the next week, and Trey mentioned his proposal. “This is exactly what we want all employees to be thinking about,” said the higher-up in response to the plan. The proposal was quickly implemented, and Trey was the only employee to get a bonus that year. Your relationship with your boss is important, but you owe your loyalty to the company.
3. Satisfying all customer demands. The customer is always right, right? Wrong! Customer requests should not be blindly granted in all cases. When customers want you to do things that would violate the mission of the organization, you may have to refuse. A classic example of prioritizing mission over customer was when Herb Kelleher, head of Southwest Airlines, wrote a letter to a disgruntled passenger who took offense at the humorous manner in which an attendant had recited the pre-flight safety instructions. In response, Mr. Kelleher wrote, “Dear Ms. [customer name], We’ll miss you.” He was unwilling to satisfy this customer (or any like her) at the expense of the company’s legendary quest for fun. Go, Herb!
Another legitimate reason to disappoint a customer comes from keeping an eye on your competition. For instance, if a customer is demanding a lower price, but all of your competitors are higher priced than your company, the answer should be “no.” Even if your price is not the lowest, but your overall value is superior to the competition, “sorry, but no.”
4. Being sensitive to workplace politics. There is nothing quite as tantalizing, entertaining or captivating as the many dramatic human interactions we can observe at work. Two rules: 1) Be aware of them; and, 2) Don’t get pulled into them. Political intrigue almost always divides people into opposing camps. You run the risk of alienating up to half of your colleagues when you side with one individual over another. Remaining aware but aloof will allow you to stay undamaged by power-struggle outcomes no matter which way they go.
5. Arriving early and leaving late. This is the perfect way to work harder, not smarter. Good luck with that. Hours don’t equal results, and burnout won’t get you promoted.
6. Appearing busy and engaged at all times. Yeah, and while you’re at it why don’t you eat lunch at your desk so you can look like you’re getting even more work done. Don’t stop there—you can multitask by conferencing with your boss via Skype in the bathroom on your smart phone! Dumb idea! Looking busy and actually getting things done are two very different things, and your superiors will soon find out which one you’ve been doing. All they have to do is watch your business results.
7. Becoming “visible” by piggybacking onto others’ successes. Part of being a team player is helping others accomplish important tasks, but to fast track your career you also need to become a lightning rod that attracts the hard work and participation of others. If done right, this will make them want to gain visibility by piggybacking onto your successes, because you’ll be helping them thrive within your network. How do you do this? By sharing the credit with them. What if Trey (from #2 above) would have approached his boss a little differently by suggesting, “I’ve got an idea that could really help the company, and it would make us look pretty good, too. Want to work on it together?” This invitation would avoid any appearance of going over his boss’s head, and it would set up future enthusiastic collaboration. Become a leader in adding value to the organization, and others (maybe even your boss) will eagerly follow.
8. Always volunteering for projects. I can’t think of any practice that will suck the life out of you faster than this one. There seems to be an endless number of projects seeking volunteers at any given time. Your mission, if you’re wise enough to accept it, is to seek out those projects that are absolutely critical to the mission and strategy of the company, and be the first to volunteer for those. Do this and you can even work on fewer initiatives while adding more indispensable value to the organization. This is the secret to working less and getting recognized more.
9. Dressing like a winner. Yes, you should get dressed before coming to work! And, yes, you should dress well, and look the part if you’re hoping for a promotion. No disagreement there. The problem comes when people rely heavily on their appearance as a substitute for actual bottom line value. There is no substitute for real value, and you were hired to produce it.
10. Going the extra mile. This could land you exactly one mile farther in the wrong direction if what you’re doing is not essential to the strategy of the organization. Peter Drucker wisely said, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”
Having busted 10 myths of career management, let’s mention the ONE behavior that will work for your good every time: Adding value to your organization in ways that support its strategy and increase its bottom line.