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How to Tell If You've Peaked at Your Job

Dear Ron, I've been at my current company for several years now and am worried that I've peaked here. My performance reviews have been solid, but some of my ex-colleagues who started with me here have gone on to other good positions, and I don't seem to get quite the same level of recognition. How can I tell if it's time for me to move on?
There are a few signposts you need to look for to tell whether you have in fact peaked. One, do you have a champion at your company, someone senior who supports you and can effectively advocate on your behalf? Two, have you ever received what I like to call a "statement of value", e.g., someone senior who has said to you "we value you here and expect you to move upward," as opposed to simply that "we appreciate your work and your dedication." A true statement of value affirms that you're seen as an emerging leader there, and not just a valued worker bee. Three, are you getting your share of plum assignments or opportunities that raise your profile at the company? Finally, is what you're doing in the critical path of the organization -- in other words, is it contributing to where your organization is trying to move towards?

If you can't answer 'yes' to at least a few of these, you need to examine with a clear eye exactly why. It may not be because you're not talented enough, but simply that you're on the wrong side of the politics at your company -- perhaps you had an effective champion who's been marginalized, or maybe the political winds have just shifted against you and you need to find new allies and supporters. It's important here to not be too harsh, nor hasty, in your assessment of yourself and where you are, and really look at what's going on. Once you've established what the reasons are, however, you need to actively address each of these areas as soon possible over the next several months before you can conclude that you've peaked and that it's time to move on. I'll be discussing some of the strategies for eliciting a statement of value and moving into the critical path of your organization in upcoming columns, but for now, good luck in figuring out where you stand.

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