I have a friend who for years at his job couldn’t get a promotion. Somehow in his team he was perceived as flaky and unreliable and not worthy. When he finally left the company and joined a new one he became a successful team member in a very short period of time. He is a respected contributor to his new employer. I myself was in a situation once where by mistake I caused a production issue and from then on my career at the company was stunted because the management viewed me as accident prone. It wasn’t until I was transferred to a new team years later when my mistake has been forgotten.
This is called an anti-loop. I first learned of this concept when I was trying to interview at Google and I came upon this article. What it means is that there is always a group of people that you may be incompatible with for whatever reason and it has nothing to do with you.
People do change over time and learn from their mistakes. So if someone may have been perceived as unreliable in the past it does not mean they still are. Likewise, someone who caused a production issue by accident is probably best positioned not to ever make same mistake again. People also behave differently under different circumstances. A follower on one project can become a leader on another.
What happens if you get stuck in an anti-loop ? Well, don’t let it happen! You should never allow yourself to remain in a situation where you cannot grow to your full potential. As an IT leader, you should never allow your employees get stuck in anti-loop and you should be the one nurturing an atmosphere where anti-loops cannot form.