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When The ladder of Success

has a broken step

When the Ladder of Success has a Broken Step 

Do you celebrate when things at work go well these days? Or is your work situation less fulfilling than it was in the past? Has your optimism diminished?

So what? It’s a job. It pays the mortgage. That’s why they call it work. We all need to buckle down and dig in regardless of the circumstances.

That may have been the response to job dissatisfaction 25 years ago, but today it’s different.  More and more we’re finding that job satisfaction is elusive – particularly in mid-career jobs or for people aged 35 to 50.

Early in our careers we’re pumped and ready for anything. Yet as time marches on, the path to advancement may not be straightforward: more competition, fewer high level jobs, and businesses downsizing, merging with others, or even going out of business.  For the most part, even if we pursue a job or promotion, it’s typically someone else who decides if we get the job.

Even those who have a chosen profession early on are faced with changes that can lead to job dissatisfaction. Lawyers are losing billable hours to technology-based research and word processing, accountants compete with client-managed software programs, and physicians are forced to close independent practices and find employment in healthcare systems.

In my experience coaching mid- and senior-level executives, I know job dissatisfaction is real and can have both a personal and professional downside to those experiencing it. Negative attitudes, poor performance, and fatigue can easily arise when employees simply aren’t feeling energized. While job dissatisfaction may not be the only contributor, it’s largely a trigger for these outcomes.  Stresses at home, in a relationship, or with aging parents certainly don’t help.

What can we do as individuals and employers to address the rise of job dissatisfaction?

If you fall into the individual category, consider these steps to improve your situation:

  • Take an entrepreneurial approach to enhancing your existing job or creating a new job.

         - Be bold. Show management what you are capable of and that you are ready for more.

         - Develop new skills on your own to back this up.

         - Look for gaps in the department that you could potentially fill.

         - Assess problems and create solutions that will get management’s attention.

  • Identify companies you’d like to be a part of and find creative ways to get their attention even if they are not posting jobs.  Let them know you like what you see using LinkedIn or other networking channels. I recently learned of someone who did this with a company she’d observed and admired. She had experience in the industry and thought her skills could be helpful. She reached out via LinkedIn, got a meeting and after a            brief time, they created a new job just for her.
  • Set up an alternative career path.  Volunteering your services or starting a hobby can lead to a new career you never considered.
  • Further your education by taking online courses or enrolling in graduate studies.  Check out “Specializations” at or create your own package of courses to demonstrate your knowledge.   
  • Learn how to better manage your work life situations with the help of an executive coach, a trusted friend or advisor, or a therapist.

For employers, these steps can help you address the effects of employee burnout and job dissatisfaction.

  • Recognize that job dissatisfaction among the workforce will eventually affect job performance and business results.
  • Institute a professional development program if one does not exist.
  • Set up executive coaching services for key employees.
  • Look at the culture of the organization and create programs that promote a collegial spirit and an environment where fun may be just as important to success as work is.

With helpful professional development tools, coping strategies and entrepreneurial thinking, there is much you can do to advance your work life.



Helping to resolve conflicts, improve performance, and develop teams in the workplace. Bringing insight, knowledge, and experience to individuals and organizations for over 30 years.