Posted: October 16, 2009
10 stupid career-limiting moves…
...and how to avoid themJohn Heckers
Unfortunately, the fact that we're in a recession doesn't stop people from being congenitally stupid about their careers. In fact, in a recession, many people do highly destructive things to their careers from which they will probably not recover. Here are the 10 I see most often, which, if you value your career at all, you will avoid:
1). Making money a major consideration. Harold Geneen, the former head of ITT when it was the world's largest conglomerate said, "If you have to choose between money and experience, take the experience and the money will follow." If you're a money-grubber, you are going to wind up both less prosperous and less experienced than those who value each experience before the money. The money will follow in time -- and in much greater amounts.
2). Refusing to "play politics." Everyone says they "hate to play politics," but the most successful people are also the most successful business politicians. Office politics is the game of knowing the power centers and utilizing them for your advancement and benefit. If you're not bright enough to see how this is going to get you ahead in any organization, I hope you truly enjoy being a cubicle dweller.
3). Spending money on everything but your career. If you take a look at the 100 most successful people in America you will find that almost every single one of them has spent money on coaches, professional advisors, consultants and so on. I'll see people go spend $100,000 on a new Mercedes, but get cranky about spending $25,000 or so on an Executive Coach. Lousy priorities. How do you think you get the money to buy Mercedes? Duh! Your career. Maximize it! And, by the way, most of my executive coaching clients found out to their delight that all they had to do to get at least a portion of my fee paid by their company was ask the right people in the company.
4). Less-than-professional attire. I see, especially among young people, an incredibly stupid belief system that they should be able to dress as they please. If you believe that, please go to work for the Peace Corps or a social service agency (and even they have dress codes). If you want to get ahead in business, dress like the top people dress to the greatest degree possible.
5). Not keeping commitments. Anyone who is careless about keeping commitments is going to get a bad reputation. This is a very small town.
6). Bad-mouthing someone influential. "Nuff said. It is the kiss of death.
7). Believing you have a right to a "work-life balance." We're all working our behinds off these days. Life is rough in the business world right now. No matter how old you are, if you believe that you need a "work-life balance" in the middle of the worst recession since 1929, you really need to grow up and get your behind to work.
8). Not improving themselves. Again, people will spend money on houses, vacations, cars, etc., but won't take classes to stay current or move ahead. Find out if you need or can get certifications, licensures, degrees, diplomas, etc. Get them. Show your superiors that you are constantly spending time and money on your career. Many times, the company will pay for this, but even if they don't, it is the best investment of your money you can make to invest in yourself and your knowledge and professional base.
9). Having an in-office romantic relationship. You might as well start filling out the unemployment application now if you're going to fool around in the office - especially, but not only, if you're married. There are so many things wrong with this it needs its own post.
10). Thinking inside the box, or acting outside the box. Think outside the box. But follow the "rules" of corporations when you're acting. You can do virtually anything so long as you play "Mother May I?" correctly according to the corporate Hoyle at your company. But if you are a staid, linear thinker, you're never going to get ahead. Linear thinkers are a dime a dozen, but many are in the corporate hierarchy. This is why you have to look like a stodgy boring suit in playing the game, but truly think with originality and intelligence.
John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC was an Executive, Relationships, Life and Spiritual Coach in Denver with 30 years of experience helping people with their lives, relationships and careers.