Professional Development

7 Warning Signs Your Talent Is Being Wasted at Work

Written by Peter Jones

So you sought out a job, went through the interview process, and got hired. Whoo hoo, so exciting! What's more, you even feel confident that you were the best out of the bunch of candidates. But all the same, maybe since you started you haven't been quite sure that your talents and particular skills are being used to their full effect.

Take a look at the following warning signs that you are not reaching your full potential. If a few of these signs apply to you, you might want to consider seeking out a bigger pond, one where you can stretch your wings, challenge yourself, and reach the career goals you know you're capable of reaching.

1. Your boss is threatened by your best ideas.

If all your ideas end up in the “Maybe Someday” file, and your manager seems to prefer bumping along with the status quo rather than pushing the envelope, you’re not going to get much traction. Maybe you’re hearing a lot of “but this is how it’s always been done” and not enough “that’s a great idea; we should try it,” or getting shut down (or outright ignored) by your boss for ideas you know to be good. If any of this is the case, then maybe it’s time to start to worry.

2. You work with automatons.

Instead of everyone pitching in to realize some long-term goal or vision, you find that all of your coworkers are merely on autopilot, doing task after task that doesn’t seem to generate any new sparks or momentum.

3. You never receive any sort of appreciation.

If you’re working hard and no one at work sees you for the superstar you are, then you A) haven’t shown them, or B) they’ve seen your talents and are choosing to ignore them. Your once bright future starts to grey.

4. You’re trapped.

Are you confined by your title? This could be your own fault or the fault of your workplace: you’re so hemmed in by your specific role and tasks that you don’t feel the freedom to be able to fluidly reach out to your team members and help with other projects and initiatives when necessary. Even if this kind of effort might require you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone, it can be good for your growth.

5. Your boss is putting your light under a bushel.

Whether your boss is afraid of change or threatened by your rising star, perhaps he or she isn’t being the kind of mentor that lets you shine. Maybe they even call you in and tell you to hold back a little, or pipe down in meetings, instead of batting around your best ideas.

6. Your company values policy over passion.

You’re a rule-follower, and you're feeling stifled. It's possible that you're very comfortable where you are, but still—biding your time and knowing real change and real challenge are too far around the corner to be feasible it a recipe for nothingness. Meanwhile, you keep on toeing the company line and following policies you don’t think are best practice. You're going nowhere, and slowly.

7. You’re burnt out and bored.

After your first entry-level gigs, you should probably never be bored at work. If your job is boring you, it’s time to move on for sure. Watch for burn-out also; it’s not just for people in high powered careers that work too fast and too hard. It can strike anyone who’s been grappling with long-term demoralization and lack of inspiration. Remember, you’re a person, not a robot just completing tasks.

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