We recently solicited readers to submit their most pressing career-related questions.
With help from Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of ”Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job,” we’ve answered the following: “Can I still be successful without moving up the corporate ladder and getting promoted frequently? I’m comfortable staying where I am, and want to know if that’s detrimental to my ability to achieve professional success.”
The short answer is: yes, you can.
Here’s Taylor’s full response:
This reader raises a very poignant question.
Many people in corporate America are conditioned to believe that without rising up the org chart and attaining fancier, more elaborate titles, they’ll stagnate in their careers. But that can be a myth. If you excel at your work, find reward in it, and have a good rapport with your colleagues and boss, you may well have a great argument in staying where you are.
A progressive boss will be open to understanding what makes you tick. After all, these are highly coveted aspects of any job. Promotions and titles are more outwardly focused. Success is highly personal and can only be defined by you.
I witness many situations in which employees aspire to the next level and title, but a “be careful what you wish for” scenario unfolds. A couple of classic examples are sales and creative professionals who get promoted to managerial positions, yet soon realize that they dislike the requisite administrative or operational duties. They ultimately miss applying their core passion of selling or applying their gift of creative skills. Others just wish for the glory days of their prior work culture. On occasion, employees return to their former positions, as both employee and employer see the bigger picture.
The key is whether you can infuse enough challenge in your job to make it feel rewarding over time, versus following a routine. In that same vein, weigh the importance of compensation.
If titles and promotions don’t matter, but your salary does, then the expectation is that you’ll contribute with an ever-increasing skill set and have the desire to grow with the company in some fashion. You may need to be flexible according to the needs of the firm through a slight modification in your current job description, for example.
Another consideration is just how you communicate your wishes to your boss. For example, if your manager is dropping hints about a higher or slightly different position and title, be prepared to explain how you feel you can contribute more significantly in your current role. You want to convey that you’re dedicated; place high value on making a difference; and enjoy accepting greater challenge, versus appearing complacent.
Everyone has a different “career currency”—how they value their work in the marketplace. For some, their career currency is salary and title, but for others, it’s measured by work-life balance, applying their best skills, having a highly motivational boss, or managing a great team.
The best approach is to know your career currency and priorities, and to convey the benefits to your boss. People do their best work when they’re content. To the extent you can demonstrate your ability to continuously deliver excellent results that match the goals of your employer, you stand a good chance of finding success as defined by you.
This article was originally published on Business Insider.