Stuck in the middle? The economy is bad, yet you have a job and you don’t want to complain or whine, but you’re ready to scream. You joined the company a few years ago and at first things went fine – you got a couple of promotions along with the raises, but now you’re stuck. Seems there is no place to go – you’re stuck in the middle and the only way for you to move up is for someone else to leave the company. You know that’s not going to happen because these days those folks over 50 want to work until they’re past 65. You get good performance reviews but there is no room at the top and you are stuck in the middle. Stuck, because all of the corner offices are taken – so what do you do? You love the company and if only, but quit, find another job in this economy and try to work your way up? That wouldn’t be prudent since it would be like starting over. You’re stuck!
Mark time and get a grip; you’ve run head on into what is known as the “gray ceiling” a bunch of over 50s – 60s occupying the plum jobs and stuck too. Ordinarily, these folks would be talking retirement or would have already gone, but it ain’t happening. They have suddenly lost their sense of security, real estate is devalued, their 401Ks don’t look that hot, and half of them are divorced and alone. They are stuck and putting off retirement for a few more years; who knows, some may even die in the job. The biggest problem – seem there is just too many of these folks and you’re stuck in the middle. Question, if one of these over 50s does decide to retire is there any guarantee you’d get the position? Some savvy 30 years old could leapfrog right over you; it’s happening more and more these days.
Stuck in the middle, can’t seem to get a grip? Here are some suggestions to get un-stuck:
“1. Go where the growth is. The gray ceiling is hard to bypass in slow-growth industries. To get a bigger job, think about jumping to an industry that’s creating lots of them.
2. Pack your passport. Overseas experience is a must for advancement in many companies now, so getting some could qualify you for a higher rank than you hold now.
3. Think small. Startups and other small enterprises tend to have less rigid hierarchies than big companies do, and they care far less (if at all) about seniority.
4. Get a mentor. Whether you stay in your current company or go elsewhere, you need someone higher up who will coach you on the political subtleties of the organization, and maybe even talk up your achievements to the people who have the power to promote you.
5. Find a mess you can fix. Being willing to solve a thorny problem — preferably one that is keeping your boss awake at night, and that no one else wants to tackle — is a proven way to become visible, and promote-able.”