You would be surprised at how many smart people wake up at night and wonder what went wrong with their careers. They had it all going for them. They joined the best company at the right time, they had excellent qualifications and yet, somehow, they have not advanced to the point where they can look with pride at what they have achieved. Here are 7 things they have overlooked along the way.
1. They forget to develop a good support system.
They all know about teamwork and perform it religiously, but they never develop a real support system. They fail to realize that everybody needs advice from the experts in their field who will guide them and help them learn.
They never realize the potential for learning from these competent and kind people and they forget to seek them out. They are not easy to find. You need trustworthy, competent people in your support system.
If you neglect to build this, you may find yourself in a bind when you need last minute help or some candid feedback on your project. Sharing one’s knowledge is the other side of the coin and is always a great investment.
“Be nice to the people on your way up, because you’ll also be seeing them on your way down.” – Unknown
2. They underestimate the fallout from negative thinking.
These smart people can immediately see what is wrong with the policy, projects and company procedure. They are somewhat frustrated that they cannot influence company policy as they would like. Guess what? This is what comes across as complaining and not being proactive enough to get things moving.
Negative thinking is one major factor that gets in the way of most careers. The whiners are usually at the top of the list of people who will be laid off.
Cynthia Shapiro has outlined this in her book Corporate Confidential: 50 Secrets Your Company Doesn’t Want You to Know—And What to Do About Them.
“Don’t ever publicly complain, disagree or express a negative view.” – Cynthia Shapiro
3. They neglect to do their own PR.
This is about building relationships at every level. That is why they have to build bridges all the time with everybody who will have a say in their promotion or downfall.
They do not realize that qualifications, skills and successes are not enough. They do not volunteer to take on new responsibilities and do not seek out unique ways to raise their profile within the company.
In fact, success, knowledge, qualifications and brilliance have a habit of irritating some people and they come across as being too pushy. This is all the more reason to get going on their own PR. If they neglect that, nobody else will properly do it for them.
4. They do not understand the risks of multitasking.
Lots of managers and leaders seem to thrive on multitasking. They may do for various reasons, like pressure of time, stress, looming deadlines and so on. They might think it is even a more efficient way of keeping everything under control.
Researchers at Stanford University have found that there is no substitute for doing one thing at a time. In fact, they have found that being bombarded with several streams of information affects their memory, focus and attention to detail.
Multitaskers have problems in sifting irrelevant details and when they do have to switch to another task, they are actually slower than their one task at a time counterparts.
5. They become too complacent.
They have gotten the job they’d wanted and their upward path is almost guaranteed. Well, not quite. The danger here is that many managers just assume that they can take it easy. They fail to grab chances to widen their skills set and even keeping up to date on technology.
They also neglect to find out what is going on in their industry. Other leaders tend to neglect details and start to cut corners.
Some of them cannot even be bothered to join the relevant professional organizations and they pass up opportunities on joining various committees which are extremely useful for career advancement, as they can be in the loop as to what is changing.
The dizzying changes in technology alone are frightening and they need to be up to speed on this and many other aspects of their business. Complacency has ruined many careers.
6. They do not realize the value of networking.
Many managers and leaders are so wrapped up in their own career goals that they neglect an essential task of networking outside the company. They fail to see the potential of personal, operational and strategic networking.
At the strategic level, they may miss out on getting stakeholder support for future challenges. They may fail to see the potential at the personal level of using these contacts for their own professional development.
At the company level, they are not exploiting useful contacts for information, trends and developments in their industry.
7. They lose touch with their values and ethics.
“Character is the quiet, reserved, value-creating force of the person, untouched by circumstances or external pressures.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
After some time, there is a risk that many managers and employees go on autopilot. What happens then is that their values, ethics and drivers get shoved down on the list of priorities.
It is an alarming fact of life that you will hear more colleagues complaining about their bad eyesight, memory or hearing than about questioning company ethics, values and their own character defects. It is frightening to reflect that bad management is often the result of thousands of tiny surrenders of certain values and ethics which are eroded on a daily basis.
Do you think that your career is at risk because of one or more of the above scenarios? Have you made one of these dumb mistakes? It may be time to take stock.
Smart people who succeed have always worked hard and they never stop building relationships. Above all, they never lose sight of their own strengths and weaknesses and they are keenly aware that they must never become complacent or negative.
Featured photo credit: Manager for a day/ FTTUB via flickr.com