Two Cent Tuesday – Stop Treading Water and Take Action

Two Cent Tuesday – Stop Treading Water and Take Action


“There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the long range risks of comfortable inaction.” ~ John F. Kennedy

As a search consultant who has spent 20+ years recruiting civil engineers all across the country, I love the fact that I can be a part of reinvigorating or positively altering the careers of those who are open to opportunity.

What is maddening to me is when I speak with candidates who say things like…

“My boss is a micro-manager.”
Too many peers, therefore, limited opportunity for growth.”
“Projects are boring / not challenging anymore.”
“Processes are cumbersome and time consuming.”

…but who are unwilling to consider making a change.

After hearing their concerns I am often able to offer new opportunities at least worth considering that could realistically address those concerns.  But sometimes I get shot down. That’s okay, that’s the nature of my business. When I inquire as to why they are not willing to remedy the situation by moving on to another organization, I hear reasons like:

“I’ve been here for 10 years so I have a lot of flexibility and can come and go as I please because I am trusted.”
“My wife and I carpool together, and daycare is in the same building as I work, so until my child heads to kindergarten this relieves a lot of stress for us.”
“No one can match my bonuses, which I have learned to depend on, so it’s hard to leave.”

These reasons are all well and good, I get it. But if you are at a point in your life where you are suffering at work, and you can’t wrap your mind around the thought of leaving at the moment, there are some simple and courageous steps you can take to turn things around.  Referring to the examples listed above:

    • If your boss is a micro-manager, have a conversation with him or her and maybe start by setting monthly or quarterly goals and/or check-ins instead of having him or her breathing down your neck on a daily basis. Take baby steps in building trust.
    • If you have too many peers so you believe your opportunities are limited, then make up your mind to step your game up and rise above!
    • If your projects or boring or you are not being challenged, go to your supervisor with evidence of how efficiently and accurately you are completing your projects and ask to be involved in more complex projects.
    • If you believe that current processes are cumbersome and create major inefficiencies then come up with a solution, or suggest leading some sort of focus group to evaluate current processes and develop viable alternatives.


There are dozens of reasons that can drag down your performance and ability to succeed on the job.  If you are not willing to take action, plan on expecting more of the same as you dig yourself deeper into a hole you may never be able to climb out of.

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