If you want to make a headway in your career, it is important to not only work hard, but also smart. There are too many people who have made little mistakes that have cost them promotions and in some cases, their entire careers.
Travis Bradberry of TalentSmart.com wrote an article: 9 Things That Will Kill Your Career and he listed nine different handicaps that could slowly cost a person his or her career. Some on the list were personality traits, like Complacency and Fear of Change. But there were others that were just wrong choices, like getting involved in politics.
Each of the nine points he raised are things that I have personally seen in either colleagues or employees. I have watched as many people work their careers to the ground and it has not been a pretty sight.
One mistake a lot of people make is the belief that working in a small organization or a startup does not require the same level of professionalism as a large corporation. Working in a small setup can actually give you the skills you need to succeed in your career.
Whether you are in a large corporation or a startup, you should read up on Travis’ post. I will highlight 3, which I have seen too often.
Working hard to build strong work relationships is very different from instigating conflict, choosing sides, undermining colleagues, spreading rumors, and all of the other things that fall under the umbrella of “playing politics.” Again, it comes down to authenticity. If you find yourself sneaking around or if you’re embarrassed if some of your behind-the-scenes manipulations come to light, that’s politics. Stick to strategies you’d be proud to discuss in front of your colleagues.
This point is especially true for us in Africa where we often align ourselves according to ethnicity. If you find yourself trying to get on your boss’s good side simply because she speaks the same native language as you do, then you are slowly wrecking your career. You might rise in that organisation. But what happens when you get a new boss who isn’t from your hometown?
Sometimes when you’re feeling negative and down, your mood can leak out and affect other people, even if you don’t intend it to. You were hired to make your boss’s and your team’s jobs easier, not harder. People who spread negativity through their department and complain about the work or other people complicate things for everyone else. If people always have to tiptoe around you so as not to dislodge that massive chip on your shoulder, they are unlikely to be willing to do it for very long.
As a boss, I’ve had to deal with people who get upset whenever they are corrected. Of course they did not last very long. Be open to learning and new experiences. No one knows everything and it helps a lot if you listen, take instructions and are positive.
Having an inflatable ego.
Did you ever work with someone who had a string of successes and started thinking that they were the be-all and end-all of superstardom? Success is great. It definitely boosts your career, and it feels really, really good. The problems start once you let it go to your head. You start thinking that success is going to last forever and that you’re entitled to it. Never, ever be content with resting on your laurels. Once you start thinking that you’re the cat’s meow, you’re setting yourself up for very painful failure.
Oh boy, this one…I could write an entire epistle! If this is you, please take a pin to that ego. It is not attractive either to your colleagues or to your boss.
I will also add one more that was not on Travis’ list:
Not Result Oriented
If you always have an excuse for why you did not deliver on your task then you are headed for trouble. There will always be issues in carrying out your tasks, but how you work through those to deliver results is really important. If you find that there is always a reason, no matter how good, for your failure to meet stated objectives, then you really need to watch out.