Beating ‘Grey Cubicle Syndrome’
Content by Dr. Michael Comer & Interview conducted by Suzy Fielders
I was recently interviewed for Winston-Salem Monthly Magazine on ‘grey cubicle syndrome’ and wanted to share this information with our followers for anyone who feels stuck in their current job or career going into 2016. Article transcript is listed below or can be found here.
In our very driven and technologically savvy world, it’s no surprise that many people often end up feeling stuck in their careers. In fact, the average time Americans stay at a job is under five years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Career transition is an issue Dr. Michael Comer often helps others with in his role as a business and leadership coach.
Comer has over 25 years of consulting and coaching experience, working with Fortune 50 companies as well as smaller organizations. He currently serves as a consulting partner for local organization The Hayes Group International and has written extensively on career restlessness in the modern workplace, referring to it as “grey cubicle syndrome.”
What’s the grey cubicle syndrome?
“There comes a time in many people’s lives when they assess whether they are really making a contribution in their work or enjoying what they do. Some question whether they are following the call that they may have heard more precisely as a child, or really using their full abilities, or putting their degree to full use. This phenomenon is known as grey cubicle syndrome.”
What are some ways to avoid it?
“Start by asking yourself these questions:
• Are there opportunities in my current job where I can grow and develop? Try taking on a stretch assignment or being involved in a cross-functional work team. Look for processes to do your present job differently to avoid becoming bored or restless.
• Are there other jobs in my organization that I’d be better suited for or would challenge me more? If you aren’t using your strengths, you aren’t in the right job.
• Do I need to make a major shift (career wise, life wise, etc.)? Grey cubicle can be avoided by making a major change—perhaps getting another degree, or switching employers, or even switching careers.”
How do people determine whether they would be better off switching jobs/careers or staying put?
“A great way to think of career choice is viewing what you do as a ‘calling.’ Ask yourself these questions:
• Am I doing what I really like to do (for the most part)? Am I using my strengths? If not, it may be time to switch careers.
• Does my company have career paths where I can grow and advance? Am I someone who can advance internally? Have I received praise in the past 30 days at work? If not, maybe it’s time to switch companies.”
What advice do you have for those who want to advance in their current jobs/careers?
“Employees who are growing and developing usually have three great traits. (1) Great self-awareness. (2) Constant self-reflection. (3) Belief they are making a positive contribution to their organization and community. To best develop, ensure your self-perception is what others perceive of you. Do this by asking questions, requesting ongoing feedback, and using assessments like a 360 degree survey.”
What advice would you give to those who are looking to make a complete career change?
“Follow your heart. Most people know when it’s time to change, but it takes courage to do so. Don’t be the person who looks back 20 years from now and says ‘I knew back then I should have made a change.’ Find someone you trust, who knows you well, and talk about your career struggles and interests. Sometimes an outside view can help you get to where you want to go and give you the courage to move forward.”
Michael D. Comer, D.M.
Mike is President of The Hayes Group International, Inc. He has over 30 years consulting experience with Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, non-profits as well as smaller organizations in organizational and team development, leadership assessment and development (executive coaching), and training development and delivery. In his role as President he oversees the work of 28 senior-level consultants. Mike started his career at Andersen Consulting (Accenture)… Read more »