Your career curve – part 3

Lets talk about that part of the career curve that makes you lie awake at night and sweat. It is the point where your career progress falters.

You will know when that happens, because your comments in meetings start being politely ignored. If you persist in being heard, you will be removed from the meeting distribution list and given another assignment. People start avoiding you and no one will go to lunch with you any more.

You are being perceived as a liability by your coworkers. Whatever you have, they don’t want to be contaminated by it. You walk around with a hunted look, trying to force a confident smile. It is a truly awful time for you, and there is only one way to handle it.

You must first recognize that it is only a matter of time before
they get rid of you. If it has gotten to this point, there is no way
that you can save yourself. You must transfer to another group
immediately or find work elsewhere.

In either event, you must take stock of what you have been doing
that has gotten you in such disfavor. To make it simple, let’s assume
that you have actually been doing valuable work.

You may have been in the wrong group all the time. If you are an
ethical person, you will make some groups very uncomfortable, even if
you are keeping your mouth shut. All whistleblowers get fired and those
who disagree with what is being done are the first to be let go.

You may not have had what it took to play on this team. You may have
been making sure that customer got what they ordered, while everyone
else was safely out of range and remaining politically correct.

The fastest way to recover is to pull in another job, preferably with someone who has a work ethic more like your own.

The most important thing you can do is to take a good look at what
you did that got you into this situation, and figure out where you went
wrong. It might have been in the original interview, where you missed
the fact that this new group was a bunch of pirahnas!

You may have signed up for a job that couldn’t be done. In fact, you
may actually have been hired as a handy scapegoat by someone trying to
cover up an earlier mistake.

There can be all sorts of reasons why they don’t like you, but the
most probable reason is that you make someone very uncomfortable, and
they will only feel better when they have gotten rid of you.

If you have made them uncomfortable enough, they will go to great
lengths to give you a bad recommendation. One of my managers at Sun
prevented one of my coworkers from transferring elsewhere by secretly
putting out negative recommendations for more than a year. It was
eventually discovered and she was let go herself.

The best solution is to get recommendations from others in your
group and tell your new employer that you and your ex-boss didn’t have
the right "chemistry".

The bottom line is, as always, that you missed a clue somewhere and
all of your effort has done little more than embarrass someone above
you. You may learn more tact, or you may join a better group, but you
need to get out and rebuild your confidence, by doing a worthwhile job

The sooner you do it, the more quickly you will regain your
confidence and continue your upward career trajectory. Read my earlier
posts on finding and keeping work to fill in the details of recovering
from this situation.

You will survive this. You may even look back and laugh…some day.
Meanwhile, get yourself to a safe place and regroup.

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