I recently met up with a former colleague who just didn’t seem herself. Years ago, when we worked together she was full of energy, ideas and vigor. Now, well suffice it to say she is not. She shared with me that professionally, and personally to some degree, that things hadn’t worked out quite the way she had wanted. From our conversation I knew that while sometimes bad things happen to good people, some of her behaviour was likely adding to the mix. There are definitely ways that we can all damage our career. Sometimes they are obvious like getting drunk at the Christmas party and telling each of your co-workers and your boss what you really think of them. Others are more subtle. Here are 4 subtle ways you could be damaging your career:
1. Being Resistant to Change
Change is inevitable. Whether change is brought on by people coming and going, new technology or a new strategic direction, it happens. How you react to change, regardless of whether it directly or indirectly impacts you is noticed. For example, if your duties are changed, do you embrace this change or make it difficult for the person or persons who assume some of what used to be your duties? If you make it difficult, not only do your peers notice, but your management team will as well. If you make it easy and take on your new role with true enthusiasm, that is noticed to and for the good.
2. Inability to Separate Professional from Personal
Has anyone ever said to you: don’t take it so personally? If so, you might not be able to separate professional experiences from personal experiences. Now, I would qualify that of course you are going to take it personally if you don’t get the job you thought you were a shoo in for. That is only human nature and natural. However, it is how you react and treat others that sets you a part. For example, you didn’t get the job you thought you were promised. Instead, a person from outside the organization was brought in. Naturally that person will not have the institutional knowledge that you have. That person may not even have the same level of product experience you have. What that person likely has are qualities, traits and skills that management did not see in you. Maybe you have them, but aren’t showing them. How you handle working with this new person will be a significant measurement of who you are. Do you resent the new person, talk about him or her every time you get a chance, do everything you can to make the person look bad? Or, do you get over the fact that person did not deliberately go after “your” job and work with the person as opposed to against that person. Being able to do the latter will show just how professional you can be.
3. Over Compensate in a Position
Maybe you have been demoted or passed over for promotions just once too often. Maybe you feel like you have to show your grit when you have a chance. Over compensating by being pushy and demanding towards others whether in a one-on-one setting or, even worse in a meeting, demonstrates that you really don’t understand the nuances and dynamics of the workplace. Perform in this manner with your management team in the room and you have set the tone that you are not ready to manage and lead.
4. Not Taking Direction
This one is a bit of a combo. You might not have gotten the job you thought you should of. You aren’t embracing change, etc. Then on top of that your manager asks you to carry out a certain function or job and include others, including those that might have gotten the job you wanted and/or have been brought into the organization to perform a function or functions that you may have done previously. Rather than execute as asked, you only include your manager. This not only demonstrates that you can’t perform as asked, it also could demonstrate that you lack confidence in your abilities. In the end, your boss will likely still ask for input, recommendations from the other parties. This shows them that you are insecure and/or not a team player. There is no question that work dynamics are interesting to say the least. And, it is hard not to take things personally. After all it is your career. That being said, how we choose to act and react is entirely in our own control. And, that is exactly what we will be judged on. So, dig deep and thing about the long-term versus the short-term.
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