any people make a mistake in assuming that career success is simply a matter of working hard and getting the job done. As long as you commit to this, your boss will promote you and the path to success will be clear, right? Unfortunately not. While mainstream education teaches us the importance of hard work, it fails to highlight the many other factors that come into play. If you think having a good work ethic is enough to succeed, chances are you might be committing some of these 6 career-damaging mistakes:
1) You haven’t aligned yourself with your company
If you haven’t taken the time to make sure that you and the company want and need the same things, you could be setting yourself up for failure. If you’re ambitious and hungry for the spotlight, but your company focuses more on cohesive teamwork and supporting each other – there’s going to be a clash somewhere along the line. If you can align your objectives, career goals and values to those of the company, then your chances of having a successful long-term career within that company will increase – without any drastic career moves. And if you discover there is no chance of alignment, then perhaps it’s time for a career change.
2) You’re not making yourself visible
If you spend most of the day working with your head down and focusing on the job at hand – you could be harming your chances of a promotion. Being seen as a future manger or leader requires, well, being seen. Some CEOs won’t even sign off on your promotion unless they’ve heard good things about you from multiple sources.
Make the effort to network and build relationships with your colleagues – at all levels and across all functions. Get involved in departmental projects or take the initiative to start your own and ask others to join in. Don’t just simply focus on anyone who you think could help you get promoted. ‘Tactical’ networking is considered selfish and unprofessional, and will not do you any favours.
Take a genuine interest in your colleagues and their success, offering help and advice where you can. Anyone seen to care about and promote the success of others will be considered solid leadership material by most employers. Making yourself visible to people outside of the office – clients, suppliers, other industry professionals etc. – is also important. It could open a surprising number of doors for you in the future.
3) You’re not aware of or developing your weaknesses
Successful people are highly self-aware – they are aware not only of their strengths but also their areas for improvement. It is an essential requirement if you want to get ahead in your career. Quite often when we have a weakness, we try to hide it under the carpet and avoid tasks that might highlight it. However, all good leaders know there is always room to improve – the learning and development never stops. By facing your weaknesses head on and working your butt off to develop them, you are showing your employer not only are you self-aware, but you’re serious about your career and performing at your best.
4) You’re not willing to invest in yourself
Successful people recognise that investing in themselves is crucial to their success. They don’t wait for an employer to do it for them. They take control of their careers and invest in any personal and professional development required to help them reach the level of success they want. The issue many have with personal investment is the apparent lack of clarity on the rate of return. However, as all successful people know, the rate of return is solely dependent on how committed you are to your course of action. Whether it’s going back to school, learning a new skill, attending conferences and networking events, joining industry associations, getting fit, going to yoga classes, coaching or embarking on any kind of personal development – as long as you’re willing to work hard and take any actions necessary, the return on your investment could be exponential. As Warren Buffet said, “Invest in as much of yourself as you can, you are your own biggest asset by far.”
5) You don’t have a career plan
If you don’t know where you’re going, chances are you’ll never get there. One of the biggest reasons people fail in their careers is because they don’t know what they want or what road to take. They then fall into the trap of leaving their careers in the hands of their employers – quite often working in jobs they don’t enjoy or are not naturally good at. Putting a career plan in place will not only give you a sense of direction, but it will also give you an appreciation of how your current role fits into the bigger picture. If you feel stuck in your current role, it will help you see what you need to achieve in this role in order for you to achieve your career goals further down the road. And if you cannot see an alignment between your current role and your future goals, then you will know it’s time to make a change.
6) You’re not being assertive
Whether you’re not standing up for yourself or you’re being aggressive – either way you’re not being assertive. Being assertive means effectively communicating your point of view, or defending your position, while still respecting the beliefs and needs of others. It is an essential requirement for any leadership role as well as a successful career. You don’t need to get into a conflict to demonstrate you can be assertive. Voicing your ideas in meetings, proposing solutions to problems, setting boundaries and being able to justify your decisions to senior management without getting nervous are all healthy ways you can show your assertiveness. If you’re struggling with assertiveness, hiring a career coach will help you gain that confidence you’re looking for.
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