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When the spark has gone, you have to act fast

I DON’T want to sound ungrateful, because I have kept my job through the recession, but the truth is that I am bored and I have lost my spark. I have been in my current position for three years – the longest I have done anything – and I feel that I have mastered my job. I can do it in my sleep and my team is working smoothly. There are no more challenges left. I’ve been wondering about promotions internally, but I can’t see any new positions opening up, the people in the level above me are not going anywhere.

I don’t want to leave the firm as I believe in it, but I need a change. How can I address this problem? How do I go to my line manager and say that I want a change without sounding ungrateful or petulant?
Ben, derivatives analyst

Ceri Roderick, psychologist at Pearn Kandola
THIS will depend a lot on the kind of relationship you have with your boss. A good boss who knows you well should be alert to the risks and be thinking about longer term talent management. That said, the most common reason that people give for leaving an organisation at exit interviews is “my boss”, so assuming an enlightened awareness of your needs could also be a risk.

This is an influencing issue, so think through the best way of getting your message across. What kind of argument is likely to work with this person? Choose your time carefully; your needs will not be asserted clearly and persuasively in a hurried corridor conversation. What is your personal “brand” and reputation in the team, and how much bargaining power do you have?

Avoid sounding as if you are just having a general grumble. Present a thought-through argument, ideally with some potential solutions. Your boss should be open to proposals for job enrichment even if promotion is not available. What would be good for both you and the business? A project? Additional responsibility? A change of geography? Think about what would be good for your long term development and how it can benefit the firm.

Go in to the conversation with ideas rather than a dogmatic position – don't threaten or drive your boss into a corner, but enlist their help in solving the problem. The chances are that they will know of more options and career permutations than you do, so seeking advice is sensible. Finally, make a positive argument for change and the potential benefits of enriching your job: emphasise what you currently value in the firm and in your role. Focusing on what will happen if you don't find new motivation risks your being seen you as a problem rather than a resource. Your best hope of improving your situation is with your bosses’ cooperation, so persuade them that there are positive reasons for investing in you.

Neil Owen, director of recruiter Robert Half
YOU are clearly not getting the most out of your current role and a conversation with your line manager is definitely required. Start the conversation by talking through the skills that you are looking to develop, where you would like to be job-wise in a year’s time, and that you would like to investigate what options there are for career development.

If you go to your line manager demonstrating your commitment to the firm with positive ideas and solutions they will be more receptive to your request – your line manager may have been in a similar position himself. However, in the meantime, to increase the chances of advancing your career and achieving success you should consider the following:

1. Make yourself visible and ensure your good work is noticed by the right people. Contribute ideas during meetings, help others when they request assistance and remain open to opportunities that fall outside your job description. 2. Continue your professional development, for example by taking part in relevant training courses. Keep yourself well informed about your industry and profession by reading widely and attending professional seminars and forums. 3. Network. This is not just important when looking for a new job or to increase your business contacts. The often overlooked skill of networking within your organisation can open many doors.

If, after your conversation with your line manager, it looks like there will be limited flexibility to create a change, then it may be time to consider a totally new role. Why not investigate what other roles are out there or have an informal chat with a recruitment consultant about what your options could be? Either way, remember to remain positive, plan ahead, look to make the most of your skills and increase your visibility.

Anne Watson, business writer
AMBITION is what every employer wants to see. Don't even think of apologising for it. The usual way of planning careers inside organisations is through appraisal schemes where personal development plans are created. It sounds as though this doesn’t happen where you are.

Now is the time for you to seize the initiative and take control of your life. If you are bored at work you can’t be performing at your best. Operating on autopilot means you won’t be giving out the signals of an energised and engaged person, so you risk getting into a vicious circle.

Change this now by formulating a plan of action. First, go to your boss and ask for a half hour slot to discuss your future. Make a plan for the meeting and decide what your goal is. Are you asking for development or training? Do you want to move into another department and learn new skills or do you want more responsibilities where you are? Take the time to think through the options so that when you meet your boss you will have them ready. This will show that you have thought carefully about your career and your future. This objective and reasoned approach is likely to be seen in a very positive light, showing you are someone who is eager to contribute more to the business. You are not being petulant or ungrateful – you are taking the initiative.

Present your case simply and without emotion. Demonstrate your capability and loyalty and I am sure you will be listened to and taken seriously. If you get the right response from your boss you will have made a major step towards career success. If you are fobbed off or told to be patient, update your CV and start to look for the kind of business where your commitment and ambition will be valued. Anne Watson is the author of How to Succeed with NLP: Go from Good to Great at Work