Many of the mistakes people make in their careers can be avoided. Do YOU see yourself in any of these below? If so, what can you do about it? What are you willing to do about it? Take a look.
Following mediocre performers
Are you imitating “A” players at work or are you spending more time watching friends and acquaintances who may not be performing at an optimal level? If you’re interested in improving your current game or landing a dream promotion, you have to pay attention to the stars. Observe what they do and how they do it. Ask their advice. Follow their lead. Maybe even choose one as your mentor if that person wants to make the commitment. But stop investing in colleagues who are less than the best. If you don’t, you risk your professional future.
Ignoring meaningful feedback
Thinking you are above learning, developing, and growing is asking for trouble. One thing you can be sure of: anyone who excels at his/her job is taking constructive criticism to heart on a regular basis. Taking it to heart means hearing it, digesting it, integrating it, and using it to improve performance in a variety of ways. If your boss tells you that, as a project lead, you need to focus more on the details, you need to do this in order to be assigned the same level of responsibility again. Ignoring this feedback tells your boss that either you don’t care about his observations or you feel you don’t have to implement them to get expected results. Whatever the case, you communicate something negative.
Failing to solve problems
Problem solvers tend to keep their jobs, even in tough times. Problem solvers tend to get promotions. Why? They demonstrate enormous value to their supervisors because problems abound in the workplace. The average employee creates or denies more problems than she solves. Become known as someone who sees problems realistically and finds different ways to resolve them. Do it frequently-and visibly. Don’t be afraid to seek out your boss and say: “I’ve been thinking about X situation, and I have an idea about how we might deal with it so that our department maintains its credibility. Would you like to hear my thoughts?”
Hiding or diminishing your value
Make an assessment of how you contribute value to your workplace now. What specific skills do you offer? What personal characteristics do you have that really benefit the organization and individuals within it? What creative ideas do you have that you haven’t yet shared? What suggestions could you make that would enhance the environment or culture? Now ask yourself what you are holding back and why you are allowing that. Do you fear that others may not like you? That they may envy you? That you may appear like you’re trying to outshine them? If you continue to walk around with a blanket over your head at work, don’t expect new opportunities to come to you.
Working in a vacuum
Doing your best work where you are and moving upward on your career path depends, in part, upon developing and nurturing relationships with other people. It’s really difficult to thrive each day or climb the professional ladder if you shut folks out, spend most days in isolation, and behave as if you dislike the human race. Today more than ever in history work success requires partnerships and collaboration. These may be internal or external to your workplace–or both. But know that you obtain the best results when you function as a viable team player, an eager collaborator, a willing partner.
Getting out of bed is a risk. Driving a car is a risk. Eating a piece of food is a risk. You could fall, crash, or choke. The message here is not to take foolish, outlandish risks that endanger our lives, jobs, or relationships. It’s about knowing when to take the right risks for the right reasons to get more of what we want: superb project results, more respect from our boss and peers, additional responsibility, a bigger paycheck. Avoiding risk is sort of like avoiding life. To truly live and find fulfillment in what you are doing, you need to be open to risk-taking. Sometimes there aren’t guarantees. But to never volunteer for a unique assignment, to never speak your mind, to never ask for a promotion is to condemn yourself to a very bland existence with few rewards.
Staying in a job you despise
This is the career mistake that thousands make. They stay in a position with a company that stifles their creativity, demeans their worth, and kills their soul. They endure this anguish in the name of job security and all that it supposedly provides. This is a huge delusion. There is no job security. Less now than a decade ago. Know that you don’t impress your boss or anyone by remaining in a job that drains your energy and robs you of your ability to do and offer your best. The more your job steals from you, the less you have to give other people. So nobody’s really winning. You just think you are. Make the commitment to explore possibilities inside or outside your current career. Do it now while you still have a job.