How Not to Get Pigeon-Holed at Work
Most people like to continue to learn and grow as their career progresses. Honing new skills keeps things fresh and motivates us to go outside of our comfort zone.
Some people have complained to me that they feel like they get pigeon-holed.
Don’t know what that means? According to dictionary.com it means: to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system.
For example, an event planner is really, really good at managing vendors and keeping the budget in check. However, she really enjoys the creative side of brainstorming concepts and determining the menu. As time goes by, she is asked to do more and more of the budgeting and vendor management and as a result, she’s not given responsibility for some of the more creative tasks she loves. Ironically, it’s the creative side of the event planning process that drew her to the career in the first place.
This is a quandary for a few reasons. First, the event planner wants to remain valuable to the company she works for and would like to get promoted after the next round of performance reviews. At the same time, her morale is low because the more her work is limited to the one or two tasks, the less satisfied she is with her job. A promotion could mean more of the same.
So what to do? Here’s my advice for the event planner:
- Talk to her manager. Often times, managers assume that if someone is really good at something, they must really enjoy it. Simply asking for a more diverse set of responsibilities may be all it takes to get back on track.
- Offer to “train up” those who are junior to her. This is the gift that keeps on giving. Pigeon-holing one person for a task is not only dangerous for that employee’s morale, but it’s also dangerous to the organization. Having a few other people who are also really good at vendor management and budgets, will ensure continuity should the employee leave.
- Proactively seek out more creative opportunities. Other team members may not realize that she’s interested in or has time to contribute to the creative process anymore. The event planner should speak up and step up to the plate.
- The event planner should definitely NOT dumb down the skills she’s been pigeon-holed for to avoid doing them. Even if they’re not her favorite tasks, they are still what makes her valuable to an organization. Dumbing down as a tactic will not only sabotage the company’s success, but it could very well sabotage her career.
What about you? Have you ever been pigeon-holed at work? What did you do to fix the situation?