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CareersEmployees who have worked at an organisation for more than 10 years tend to hit a career plateau. By definition, a career plateau is a stage when employees feel that the chances of upward career advancement are negligible and no longer feel challenged by their work.

Employees who reach a career plateau are usually frustrated, demotivated and consequently, less productive, and therefore affect the organisation’s profitability negatively. If these experienced employees leave the company, it causes a problem for the organisation because replacing them is not always easy.

Line managers can help employees in overcoming career plateaus by:

Developing customised career development plans. Line managers should ask employees to list their skills, competencies and aspirations. Once employees do so, managers should keep this information in mind when assigning challenging projects and responsibilities in the future. This will help increase employee motivation and commitment.

Providing development and growth opportunities. Senior management should organise training sessions, skill-based workshops and symposiums on a regular basis in order to enrich and improve their employees’ skills. Furthermore, managers should foster an organisational culture that encourages continuous learning and rewards ‘out-of-the box’ thinking.

Employees can effectively overcome career plateaus by:

Exploring lateral movements. If the opportunities for vertical advancements are scarce, employees should consider making a lateral move to a different department within the organisation instead of leaving it. To successfully make this transition, they need to expand their skill set and this can be done by gaining industry knowledge, attending seminars and training sessions, or enrolling in a graduate course.

Establishing support networks. Instead of relying on the organisation to provide opportunities for professional development, employees should join industry associations and attend workshops and seminars pertinent to their field of work and interests. Attending these events will help them network with industry leaders, entrepreneurs and HR professionals who may be on the lookout for enterprising and talented individuals.

– Mehreen Ahmed
The writer is a project coordinator at a multinational company. mehreen.ah@gmail.com.

First published in the Careers Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on May 4, 2014.