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Feeling Unhappy, Underutilized or Unchallenged in Your Role? Speak Up!

All too often, high potential professionals suffer in silence in roles that fail to fully leverage their strengths and meet their professional needs. In many cases, they began in positions that were a fit but, over time, were propelled along career paths that no longer align with their interests, values, and skills. They want to do more, make a bigger contribution, and feel better about their work. But they feel stuck.

Do any of these sound like you?

  1. You’re good at what you do but it’s no longer fulfilling. You feel like you’re just going through the motions.

  2. You could add more value if you applied your skills and background in a different way.

  3. You’re ready for a new challenge but you worry that you’ll threaten your job if you express this to your manager.

If any of these resonate with you, you’re certainly not alone. You’re also not alone if you’ve assumed that raising your concerns would pose too much of a risk to your career. At a time when most professionals feel insecure in their jobs, it is only natural to worry that your honesty will threaten your position or leave you exposed in other ways. An important point to remember, though, is that nobody benefits if you keep quiet about your concerns.

If you’re feeling unhappy and unfulfilled in your current role, you’re not realizing your full potential. And if you’re not realizing your full potential, your company isn’t experiencing the best of you either. You owe it to yourself and your organization to recognize how you can maximize your value and then take proactive steps to do so.

Maximizing your value could take many different forms. Some examples include:

  1. An expansion or re-structuring of your current role to include new or different responsibilities

  2. A transition to a new functional role in your department or elsewhere in the company

  3. A promotion to a higher-level position

  4. A transition to an external opportunity that better leverages your skills

If you work for a supportive manager, communicate your goals and concerns to him/her. Most managers will appreciate your initiative and willingness to assume greater responsibility. If you’re a strong employee with a reputation for high quality work, there are likely projects, meetings, etc. that your manager would love to delegate to you. They may also be willing to brainstorm new paths and facilitate introductions to their colleagues if you can’t meet your goals in your current role.

If you don’t feel comfortable discussing this with your manager, find a mentor or trusted advisor who can help you develop a plan. Your plan might involve researching other groups in your organization to identify opportunities that are a better fit for your strengths. It might also include discussions with other leaders about how they’ve made these types of shifts in their careers.

Whatever you do, be proactive and strategic in your efforts. Every moment that you spend feeling underutilized, unchallenged, or unfulfilled is a moment you could be using to maximize your impact on your organization and your career. Nobody is going to do that for you. You must speak up to create the change that is right for you.

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