If you've been fired, warned or just looked over for promotion, you already know your manager has a few misgivings about you.
But if you feel you’re just not getting ahead, maybe you’re contributing something to that as well?
New research shows that 97% of employees say they have a career limiting habit that holds them back at work.
Even worse, bosses report that only 10-20% of their employees make any lasting change to these habits!
Here are 5 top tips to overcome the career blockers:-
Unreliability is identified as the No.1 career blocking habit and it’s no surprise. After all, if the people you work for, and with, depend on you, what purpose do you serve? Truth be told, unreliable people are actually dangerous to the success of the entire team.
If you want any level of career success, people have to trust you. They have to know that you will meet your commitments. If you want to be seen as a credible and valued member of the team you must first be reliable.
Be true to your word
Never, never make a promise you don’t plan to keep. There’s no quicker way to lose trust.
Under promise, over deliver
Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Instead of making promises that aren’t realistic, help yourself and make your commitments attainable. Set the bar at a reasonable level. Then jump right over it! FYI, the saying ‘under promise over deliver’ is the mantra created by Thomas J (Tom) Peters, a US writer perhaps best known for his 1982 book, written with Robert H Waterman Jr, 'In Search of Excellence'.
We all make promises that we intend to keep and then realise we can’t. And although we want to do our very best, everyone falls short sometimes. These are just a fact of life. It’s how you deal with them that matters most. Be upfront and address problems right away.
- Resistance to change
Change is a combination of chaos and opportunity. Those who are resistant to change, are only looking at one side of the equation. They’re forgetting about the opportunity and focusing only on the chaos.
We all know that change is the only constant in life and nowhere is that more true than in the workplace. Technology alone forces us to be more adaptable and learn new things on a nearly daily basis. The business world is always evolving - mergers acquisitions, restructuring, and so forth.
Change is unavoidable, so successful professionals have to be willing to embrace change, even when the outcome is unknown.
- Negative attitude
Some people are just naturally more positive than others. But negativity for its own sake rarely serves a purpose. And people who can’t demonstrate a positive ‘can do’ attitude in the workplace are truly damaging their career future.
Who wants to work with a naysayer? What company wants to reward (i.e. promote) that kind of behaviour? Negative people, at best stay put. At worst, they are shown the door.
Why attitude matters
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? I’m just being honest. I have to voice my opinions and be myself. I don’t do the fake stuff.” That’s fine. No one is asking you to fake it…much.
The workplace is a living, breathing thing and everyone impacts it. Your negative attitude can bring down the entire thing. It’s as contagious as an airborne virus.
Voicing a dissenting opinion, speaking assertively and saying ‘no’ are not inherently negative. You can – and should – embrace your individuality and your professional power.
However, remember, your delivery has a huge impact. Done in the wrong way, these things can appear negative.
It’s amazing how powerful a smile can be. It actually changes your brain chemistry. Even if you don’t feel like it, try to smile regularly during the day. Others will response to you more favourably and you’ll probably feel more positive.
Negative people look for obstacles. Positive people find solutions. Instead of pointing out a challenge and waving the white flag of surrender, approach it like a puzzle. How can we turn the situation around? How can we fix the problem? How can we make it work? It’s fine to be sceptical, but bring some of your own ideas to the table as well.
Negativity comes from emotion. Frustration, anger, disappointment, etc. Do your best to set these feelings aside. The workplace is a professional environment - it’s your responsibility to act professionally. That means using tact and diplomacy, stating facts before feelings, and finding ways to get the job done – even when it’s uncomfortable.
Respect the team
Negativity sucks the energy from those around you. Give your team members the respect they deserve. Even if you aren’t feeling particularly positive, focus on the bigger picture. You’re part of the team and your attitude matters. A little effort goes a long way.
Negativity is like a boomerang. It always comes back to you. Likewise the more you project a positive attitude, the more positivity will come your way. You don’t have to pretend to be someone else. Just recognise the powerful force that is your attitude and use it to your advantage.
- Short-term focus
In today’s busy workplace, it can be easy to get sucked into the short term, day to day stuff – like your annoying commute, your growing to-do list, that pending deadline etc. These things sap your energy from morning to night. But you simply can’t get too wrapped up in the ‘here and now’ that you forget to lift up your head and look at the horizon once in a while.
When you’re busy looking down, that’s when things are missed.
Why long term-focus matters
Long term focus goes hand in hand with a ‘big picture’ perspective. These skills allow you to understand the bigger game. Without these, you’ve got tunnel vision.
By looking up and out, your perspective shifts. You become more aware of the bigger picture. You more clearly understand your role in its success.
Even more importantly, you’re able to be proactive – to actively manage what’s coming at you rather than simply reacting in the moment to what’s right in front of you. This is one key skill that separates average employees from outstanding ones.
Know your industry
The same thing goes for your company. Read the company reports and newsletters. Take to executives when you have the opportunity. Find out what challenges and opportunities are coming your way. The more you know, the more prepared you will be.
Of course, you don’t want to neglect yourself in all of this. Long-term focus applies to your career goals as well. Where do you want to be in five years’ time? And in ten? How can your work today help support these goals? What opportunities or challenges may come up along the way? How can you get the most out of your current experience? How can you play to your strengths?
Always ask yourself the question: How does the task you are working on today change or evolve in the future? How does it impact the next phase of the project? How can it be done today to make tomorrow better, more efficient, more profitable or successful? Look several steps ahead of where you are.
- Risk aversion
Here’s the hard truth of life: anything that’s worthwhile is almost always a little risky.
There are very few certainties in life that lead to greatness. Growth, success, accomplishment, love, all these things require risk. They’re not guaranteed. In order to ever attain them, you need to step out on a limb. Moving forward almost always involves a leap of faith – having faith in yourself.
The thing that really holds people back - in their career and in life - is that they don’t have that faith. They’re risk averse because somewhere along the line they stopped believing in themselves.
So they hide. They shrink back. They take the well-worn path, even when it doesn’t lead them to where they want to go. They settle. Whether out of fear or simply laziness, they sacrifice what they could be and what they could do, for what they know. Risk aversion comes at a high price indeed.
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