It’s one of the great ironies of work life: Sometimes you can be too good at your job, to the point where nobody else can ever picture you doing anything else.
That’s what happened to Cassie. She was hired by a big hospital to work in its department of nursing education. Her original job description was a general one; she wasn’t assigned to one particular task or project.Soon after she began working there though, she was asked to single-handedly redesign the hospital’s nursing orientation program.
Cassie was, naturally, quite excited by the opportunity. She saw it as a way to make her mark and really define her value to the organization. Cassie’s professional background as a nurse wasn’t the only reason she was an ideal candidate to oversee the nursing orientation program. She also possessed natural talents for planning and organizing, for developing effective courses of action, and for mentoring and helping others.
So at first this was a great step in Cassie’s career. She drew up an orientation program that was very well received by both the incoming nurses and the hospital administration, and she was regarded as a very good teacher. Cassie was so successful at implementing and teaching the program that she gave the four-day course once a month for more than five years. During that time, she was also asked to create and administrate a second, broader orientation program, one for all new hospital employees. Teaching this orientation took up one additional day per month, so between the two programs, Cassie was designating one whole week out of her work month to teaching.
Originally, creating and implementing these orientation programs gave Cassie energy; she thrived on planning and developing. But in the long term, when the creation and implementation phases were over, Cassie wasn’t a “maintenance” person. She didn’t enjoy teaching the same programs over and over again, month in and month out. Not only did the repetition drain her energy, but it consumed so much of her time that she wasn’t really able to keep her head up for other opportunities or areas of interest within the hospital.
Unfortunately, Cassie was at a point in her career where she didn’t possess the confidence to speak up for herself. Her employers, meanwhile, operated as if in a “pigeonhole culture.” They were typically reluctant to promote from within, believing that employees are well-placed where they already are. So when she was next asked to head the preceptor program – yet another orientation, this one focusing on the clinical side of nursing – she simply accepted.
While it was certainly flattering that Cassie’s employers regarded her as a guru of orientation, the repetition ultimately left Cassie unmotivated. Cassie remained responsible for these orientations for more than 10 years, even though they never provided her with lasting satisfaction. It took her just that long to finally get up the gumption to secure a transfer out of the department.
If Cassie’s story is all to familiar, I encourage you to read my book “From Cornered To Corner Office.” In it, I break down strategies and philosophies on how you can break out of being stuck in your career, ultimately reaching your professional goals.