What is a Growth Trap?

Sometime we get stuck. However hard we try, we don’t seem to get to that next level. It may be a level of closeness in relationships, or it might be getting the job or career move we want or it might be in growing our team or company.

George* was setting up a new company to deliver accounting services to small businesses. He was growing well and he was getting snowed under. He needed to recruit into his team. Intellectually he knew it because his capacity was stifling growth. Yet month after month he came back to his accountability group and no-one was recruited.

When we delved into the issue we could have investigated the process and sourcing of staff but his real growth trap was a personal fear. It was suddenly that he felt responsible for putting food on their table. That he was responsible for their livelihood and what if he couldn’t win the business?

This was a personal growth trap to a corporate growth problem.

You may well be in a growth trap, too. We often search for a better tool, a better team, a better partner when actually breaking through a growth trap is a mixture of personal change and changes in direction and resources.

Often our friends can see it, our colleagues can see it or even competitors and start ups. Yet we need to be come more self aware and then have the tools and strategies to make new choices.

Claudia* and I met for the first time recently. I asked her what she did, and the words were ‘well, I moved don’t a grade to get this, didn’t I’, ‘I’d like to go for promotion, but the others are more pushy, so what can you do?’. I hadn’t asked her to put her self down, but every comment on her job was why she wasn’t doing as well as she could, and in the typically English phase – mustn’t grumble.

Well I certainly felt like grumbling! She was ignoring her potential and living less of a life than she could. Her personal life trap of self-worth was cutting back on her career worth. 

There isn’t one thing that would get her a new job. I don’t believe there is one tool that makes all the difference, nor do I believe we can separate corporate change from personal change or cultural change.

Instead I believe in having a ‘toolbox’ and knowing which tool to try for individual situations. Yet at the same time, there are common patterns based on our development, career situation and stage of corporate growth which means we can short cut into the right intervention.

Questions for reflection:

  1. Have a look at what is holding you back at work.
  2. How much is that a personal growth trap for you – fear, self-worth, communication skills, attitude?
  3. How much is that within the business – culture, assumptions, availability of positions, personality of your boss?

If it’s a personal growth trap – then have a look at some of the ‘inner conversation‘ resources. If it’s mainly something in the business, then have a look at some of the ‘outer conversation‘ resources. 

(* not real name)

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