Companies want loyal employees. Loyal employees are more engaged and more committed to the success of the company. But as an employee, you can take loyalty too far, to the point where it goes against your self-interest.
If you’re looking for career growth, putting all your eggs in your company basket isn’t a great idea because it’s a crowded basket. There are likely many other eggs there.
Can you be certain that you will get picked when the next plum opportunity comes up?
When an opportunity for an exciting promotion comes up, your company has many options — they are free to choose between you and other candidates.
You may have worked on a career plan with your manager that lays out a series of next steps. However, there is undoubtedly more than one shining star in your company’s talent pipeline. Despite the best-laid career plans, when a job opportunity comes up, you need to be the best candidate.
You could be very, very good, exceptional even — but you can’t guarantee that you will be the best candidate. External factors come into play — the abilities and experience of others that you may not have anticipated.
If your company has many options for the next job opportunity, isn’t it a good idea for you to level the playing field by creating options for yourself as well?
To even the playing field, you need to create alternative avenues to keep your career plan on track. You need to have multiple options for the next job on your career plan — your company and others that may hire you for the same position.
You need to create doors that you can open fairly quickly, in the event that no opportunities for promotion or growth become available at your company. These doors are fairly straightforward to create by consistently networking and casually exploring opportunities at other institutions.
You may feel secure because you have a powerful sponsor backing you.
Ask yourself — are they the only decision-maker? Or are there other influencers operating behind the curtain that may derail you? And don’t forget — even if you’re as snug and comfortable as a well-swaddled baby, your sponsor could always move on or fall out of favor. Where would that leave you?
Creating options for yourself is a good idea even if you are not motivated by career growth. Taking your eye off the ball and assuming that the status quo clock will keep running isn’t a good idea. Even if you work for a stable organization or even the government, your department could get eliminated or you could fall out of favor.
When you don’t take the time to consistently work on a Plan B, C, and D, you leave yourself vulnerable to a myriad of factors outside your control that could arrive like snowfall in Miami in summer.
Don’t leave your career and your livelihood up to chance.
Don’t let your company control your career — only you should do that. It’s much easier to network and create potential pathways when you have the security of a paycheck coming in. Do not wait until your company has sidelined you or is sharpening the ax.
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