Even CXOs can feel stagnated in their career

The feeling of stagnancy is not limited to any particular level or hierarchy. Lack of challenges or absence of learning may make life and work rather boring

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It’s common for mid-level managers to feel stuck and stagnated, when they can’t foresee any further growth path. In some cases, existing jobs are also at risk, and in other cases, even higher compensation can’t keep them motivated at work, any longer. The problem is everything becomes so predictable. Despite, the efficiency in completing new projects, they may find their work very similar, routine, and mundane.

The problem is not unique to mid-level manager. Even CXOs may suffer from the same problem. They feel stagnant too. One may argue, what more is left for a CMO or a CFO or a CHRO to achieve? They are leaders in their respective domains, socially they have arrived in life, and have almost reached the pinnacle for their career. Having said that why do they still feel stuck up in their positions?

“I have seen not only the CFOs and COOs feeling stagnant, but at times even the CEO may share the same feeling and may want to join a bigger organisation.” 

Sriharsha Achar, ED & CHRO, Start Health and Allied Insurance Company

A senior HR leader shares that she herself felt stagnated at one point of time. She had been working in the BFSI sector as an HR leader in many global organisations for over 20 years. She then took a sabbatical for almost 18 months because she felt that she needed a break. During this period, she decided to focus only on certain things on her bucket list which had nothing to with her professional life. Post that she felt rejuvenated and rejoined the corporate world as an HR head in a company.

The reasons of stagnation could be each to its own. As Ashish Anand, CHRO, SAR Group, says, “The feeling of being stagnant may differ from people to people. While for some their role may become boring, there will be others are simply too scared to get out of their comfort zone to try something new. And the other thing is the aspiration. People desirous of growing further in life may feel stagnant at times.”

“CXOs who feel they are stuck, should consider training themselves or getting experience in some other function to widen their horizons. If they are working in an MNC they should consider taking up a global role to gain exposure to different kinds of markets. If working in a home grown conglomerate, they should consider getting experience at the group level.”

Amit Sharma, VP & head of HR, Volvo Group

However, here are the few common ones.

Routine: Work is bound to get mundane at some point. Obviously, if one person does the same job for six to 10 years, boredom will eventually start to set in. Doing the same work over and over again makes people feel as if they are stuck somewhere and start looking for a change.

Learning: When people stop learning and upgrading themselves, they feel stuck. If learning stops in anyone’s life, a feeling of uselessness comes in. If there is no learning, gradually there will be nothing new for one to do at work.

Challenges: If the job stops being challenging, it becomes boring. By doing the same work over a period of time, in the same field, one tends to master it. That is why, the work becomes very easy to accomplish. With no challenges encountered, the projects or tasks get done with no difficulty at all. This definitely leads to a feeling of stagnancy.

Aspirations: People are ambitious and wish to keep growing and getting bigger as time goes by. The truth remains that there can be only one king in the jungle. Everyone is not fortunate enough to reach the topmost peak of their career. In our case, every CXO does not get the opportunity to become a CEO.

“The feeling of being stagnant may differ from people to people. While for some their role may become boring, there will be others are simply too scared to get out of their comfort zone to try something new. And the other thing is the aspiration. People desirous of growing further in life may feel stagnant at times.”

Ashish Anand, CHRO, SAR Group

Amit Sharma, VP & head of HR, Volvo Group, says, “People tend to stagnate when they stop expanding their horizons. They reach a particular level and start to feel stuck up in a role. For any CXOs the next level would be that of CEO, and for that, they need a broader perspective and a deeper understanding of each and every function.”

Sharma advises that CXOs who feel they are stuck, should consider training themselves or getting experience in some other function to widen their horizons. His second suggestion is that if they are working in an MNC they should consider taking up a global role to gain exposure to different kinds of markets. Third, if working in a home grown conglomerate, Sharma suggests looking at getting experience at the group level.

“Working in each and every portfolio of the business can help one to stay relevant at all times,” enunciates Sharma.

Sriharsha Achar, ED & CHRO, Start Health and Allied Insurance Company, shares that many a time people have come to him and said, ‘I feel that I am stuck. What should I do?’
Achar more often than not advises such people to take up some other role. In other words, he suggests making a horizontal shift in career.

He recalls how in one of his previous organisations, the CFO was going through the same problem. Achar advised him to move to sales and try something different. The CFO followed his suggestion and experienced positive results too. He performed really well.

“I have seen not only the CFOs and COOs feeling stagnant, but at times even the CEO may share the same feeling and may want to join a bigger organisation,” explains Achar.

At the end of the day it is all about being relevant and useful. For this, one may have to always keep on the learning hat, try different roles or even change the industry one is currently working in.

If one keeps challenging oneself, one may not feel stuck in a rut at all.

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