Rear view perspective is always right but not always rosy. When it comes to career moves, one would rather avoid the furrows and gullies than learn from mistakes. Career missteps can be incredibly costly, both in terms of time and effort. Some of these slips are not obvious upfront but work as spoilers especially when you are ready for that long awaited take-off. Let me elaborate on seven career sins one would be wise to avoid and be wary of.
Burning Bridges: Easily done, difficult to repair and near impossible to rebuild; burning bridges with colleagues and associates during ones career comes back to haunt even the most seasoned of professionals. The one critical thing to remember is that professional community is small and word spreads fast. While no one advocates diplomacy on every occasion, tact can save the day, any day. One more advantage of always having communication channels open with colleagues both present and ex is that work becomes easier to execute and deliver. The truth is, even the most unpleasant, difficult of messages can be delivered in the most humane and sensitive manner. What is needed is a genuine attempt and clear intentions. What if future demanded you to walk through familiar territories, would you rather that there were no bridges to cross or would you have your pathway made easy because of the strength of the bridges you built.
Not Getting Your Hands Dirty: Fortune favors the prepared. One of the deadliest career stallers is lack of substance for the role one is performing. Often, one gets caught with seniority, ‘is this my job’ syndrome or pure laziness in failing to learn the ropes. Depending on the expertise of others is almost like handing over the reins of your chariot to another and does nothing to build your own credibility or ability to provide direction. Another faulty line of thought is- Do I need to get my hands dirty at this stage of career? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! No stage of career can be a barrier to learning. If your designation coming in the way of keeping abreast of times, time to chuck the title (figuratively) out of your mind!
Jumping the Gun: Impatience for success can ruin even the brightest of stars. Assessing ones role readiness is a crucial judgment call. Taking up a stretch assignment is easy but when the stretch is beyond individual’s tensile limit, performance, learning and confidence suffers. Determine your own pace of success when it comes to climbing up the career ladder. Jumping the gun and missing a step can lead to a fatal blow to one’s career.
Wearing Your Heart on Your Sleeve: In the professional world, wearing your heart on your sleeve may not always be an option. Colleagues who often give into their emotions at the drop of a hat are termed difficult. Bringing emotions to work is positive; it helps exude empathy, creativity and sensitiveness; however when one gets overwhelmed with emotions and loses composure, one literally hands over control of the situation to the other person. Not knowing what, when and how to express can be a huge career derailer. The idea is to behave effectively in presence of emotions not control it, to be able to leverage a difficult situation.
Declaring a War on the System: Waging a war on the system you are part of, can be both self-destructive and futile. There are ways and means of getting your message across but taking up a fight with those who have a say in your career is messy and complicated. There may be times where your principles and beliefs stand completely at odds with your stakeholders, but openly calling them out just takes away a neutral ground for discussions. When caught in the deep end, visualize the outcome in your mind and keep your actions & message apolitical.
Staying Comfortable: The secret to fuel ones career forward is perhaps well captured in the book title ‘Stay Hungry Stay Foolish’.
One of the sure-fire ways of impeding your career growth is by staying in the comfort zone.
Remember, rolling stone gathers no moss, motion is vital for innovation and for developing a perspective. The deal is this, the longer you stay, the more the comfort and more difficult to move out of it. If you feel the comfort levels in your role maxing, it’s time to move to different pastures.
Biting into the Perception Bait: Building your relationships and teams based on perception is like sponsoring a house of cards. It’s flimsy and ephemeral. Solid foundations for a long and successful career are built on real emotions, constructive conflicts and open discussions. Acting on perception inhibits growth for the person, those around the individual and the organization. Being known as a people leader who makes perception based decisions is a definite career hara-kiri and won’t attract talented people to work with you. Betting on talent who have the potential to be better than you is how you ensure your own growth is intact.
The best strategy while driving your career goals is playing to one’s strength area but career derailers can many a times take the steam off the momentum, often at critical junctures. Stand advised against these seven career sins to make sure you are ready for opportunities when it knocks the door!