Do you feel powerless?
This is not an idle question. Your career depends on how you answer it and you must be able to answer it accurately.
Feeling powerless can happen at any point in your career curve, and it is essential to your continuing sanity that you learn to recognize what is going on.
If you are doing a creditable job and applying yourself to making your employer succesful, this can be one of the most important indicators that you are seriously at risk.
I am not talking here about the fact that you are not getting the
necessary authority to carry out your responsibilities. That
unfortunate state of affairs seems to go with being employed. You have
to earn authority by demonstrating that you are carrying out the
responsibilities of your position and then you will probably have to
fight tooth and nail to actually get enough authority to make the job
easier for the future. That is just par for the course of being an
When I use the word powerless, I mean that you are being
systematically kept off balance or being deprived of essential
information. It creates an entirely different level of helpless
frustration than being denied necessary authority.
This is a deliberately caused condition. There are individuals who
feel that their survival depends on keeping others powerless. It can be
done in a seemingly kind way or it can be done with obvious relish, but
it is always a form of insanity.
When you are the target of this cruelty, you may feel that you are
the only one in the group who is being treated this way. Not so. The
person who does this has an unreasoning fear that other might do them
harm if they became more powerful.
You may feel that you can suck up to this person and get them to
treat you better. You probably can, for a while, but you will lose your
integrity, your self-respect and most of your sanity in the process. If
you observe carefully, you will see that toadies do get treated better,
but they despise themselves. Don’t consider it, even as a last resort.
Bail out first.
If you find yourself in the situation where you are feeling
powerless and you cannot persuade your manager to give you the
information you need to get your job done, prepare your exit strategy.
Line up your next job without delay.
If the manager keeps changing the rules on you and you are being
blamed for not knowing that the change occured, you are overdue on your
exit planning. You probably have less than 90 days before you are
notified that you are excess baggage.
You may think that you can go around the manager and get the
information from other sources and still get your job done. Yes, you
certainly can…and it will guarantee that this manager will cut you
off at the knees when it comes to your next review or re-org.
Look for a job where the manager wants you and treats you as a
valuable resource from the very first interview. It will make a
tremendous difference in what you can produce and in your morale.
You have the potential to be a valuable player. Make sure you are part of a team that deserves you.