Conductor checks his watch to find out how much time remains at the Bloomington, Illinois, stop on the Turboliner run between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago. Photo by Charles O'Rear for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970). (NARA record: 3403717)

Have You Stayed Too Long?

E. Forrest Christian Careers, Underachievers Leave a Comment

Why won’t they ever leave?!

You know the person I’m talking about. The one in your crew who comes to the party and then doesn’t leave. You drop hints, even change into your pyjamas, but the only way to “the party’s over” through their thick skull is to physically shoo them out the door. There’s very little more aggravating than a guest who won’t leave.

You may be doing the same thing at your current job.

It’s a trap that Hidden High Potentials (2HiPo’s) often fall into. They start doing worse in their bosses’ eyes, which makes them want to show that they really do know what they are talking about. They work harder, bring in more “fresh thinking” which only leads to more closed door sessions with the boss where they are encouraged to “be a team player” because “you’re bringing down the team.” So our woeful 2HiPo’s go back to their desks, dedicate themselves to working even harder only to then get called back again by a now exasperated boss.

You’ve obviously not been getting the hint, so let me make it extremely clear: you’ve outgrown the size of work you’re doing and you find a new position or your boss will make you move on by firing you.Work comes in sizes and different people fit different work roles. If you work at a job that is too small for you, you don’t seem to fit. The boss keeps seeing you as a troublemaker or as someone who is “bringing down the team” although he can never tell you exactly what actions back up that claim. It’s a gut feeling.

It’s weird if you don’t understand how work works.

The issue is that many people grow and change over time. Jobs that once fit them now feel too tight. It’s like your pants as you have kids and hit middle age: suddenly they start “shrinking”. Instead of going out and looking for a better fit in another role, even within the same company, 2HiPo’s all too often just keep letting out the waist. Tight jeans may look hot on you. Tight work roles are more like wearing a tie too tight: you start cutting off the blood to your head.

It’s kind of admirable that you want to try and prove yourself. But mostly it’s just stupid. The problem is that you are bring a racecar to a job that needs a pickup. Yes, you can haul things faster. You just can’t do the job that they want done any more because – and this is where it gets tricky – what they want is something other than what you have to offer.

Your current boss is never going to see what you bring to the role. He’s not an idiot; he’s simply not capable of managing work that is bigger than he can do. You can’t do it either, so don’t start getting uppity.

Go find a job that fits you, one that needs a racecar.

[A small aside here at the end about ties and blood to the brain: it turns out that this is a real risk with men who are getting fatter but who are not buying larger neck sizes in shirts. That top bottom gets really, really tight with the neck fat then bulging on either side. It’s not just uncomfortable. It does indeed reduce blood supply and via that make you slower and less able to think fully. I’m guessing that pants are the same severity, depending.]

Image Credit: Conductor checks his watch to find out how much time remains at the Bloomington, Illinois, stop on the Turboliner run between St. Louis, Missouri, and Chicago. Photo by Charles O’Rear for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (1970). (NARA record: 3403717) Via Wikimedia Commons.

About the Author

Forrest Christian

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E. Forrest Christian is a consultant, coach, author, trainer and speaker at The Manasclerk Company who helps individuals and companies find insight and solutions to what seem like insolvable problems. Cited for his "unique ability and insight" by his clients, Forrest has worked with people from almost every background, from artists to programmers to executives to global consultants, both as individuals and as leaders of organizations at least as diverse. [contact]

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