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Habits That Many People Think Can Make Them Excel At Work But Actually Cannot

Habits That Many People Think Can Make Them Excel At Work But Actually Cannot

Speaking up at your new job early on.

New jobs can be scary, and too many employers don’t have formal onboarding programs to properly guide new hires. While you’re finding your footing, try not to be too eager too soon, and get labeled the “office whiner.” Your boss isn’t there to take care of you so find alternative ways to help you become successful in your new role. I’m not suggesting that you don’t ask questions or follow up; I’m saying find a balance between trying to go at it alone and driving your new supervisor crazy.

Navigating a new work landscape is like searching for those designer boots you saw at Macy’s. You browse every online shopping site to find the best price. Similarly, there are so many different ways to find the tools you need to impress your boss without flooding his inbox or knocking on his door in between conference calls. Maybe it’s the person you’re replacing, a trusted colleague, or a mentor who knows your field better than you do. Whatever it is, plan out the right approach, and you’d be amazed at how happy people will be to lend a hand.

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Waiting for your boss to notice you.

Avoid buying into the traditional mindset – the one that consistently reminds us that the 200-year-old word “employee” means a person who is subservient to his or her master, the employer. Today, employees are considered business partners. Your boss is busy, and the more ways you can make your boss’s life easier, the better chance you have of getting noticed.

Be proactive because you owe it to your career to make the relationship work. If your boss doesn’t reach out much, don’t follow his or her lead. Make it a point to check-in regularly. Ask how your boss prefers to be contacted—in person, via phone, by email—and how often. Make sure you understand your goals and give progress reports. Volunteer your time outside of the 9-5 minimum in order to see projects through – you will thank you for it.

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Counting on your supervisor to hold you accountable.

Unlike responsibility (the “before”) and self-empowerment (the “during”), personal accountability is (the “after”). It’s a willingness to answer for the outcomes of your choices, actions, and behaviors. When you’re personally accountable, you stop assigning blame, “should-ing” on people, and making excuses. Instead, you take the fall and learn from the mistake when your choices cause problems. It takes courage to be personally accountable and requires you to be honest with yourself, police yourself, and look at your own actions before pointing fingers at others.

As a career coach, I preach to my clients that professionals should treat themselves as independent contractors, meaning it’s up to them to enhance their background. I’ve watched people’s careers skyrocket based on principle and theory alone. So here’s some for you: it’s time to come to terms with the fact that a job isn’t just a job – it enhances your career and adds intellectual property to your metaphorical “toolbox.” Step out of your comfort zone, get new experiences under your belt, and seize every learning opportunity because at the end of the day, it all benefits YOU.

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Putting all your energy into current hard skills.

People focus too much on technical job skills required now and ignore opportunities to learn about emerging software programs or other forms of field training and development. The average person shifts his or her mindset from a “learner” to a “knower” and misses out on serious job enhancement prospects.

And don’t forget about soft skills – the number one reason people are let go from their jobs. Whether it’s time management or improving your ability to read a person’s body language, your brain has an endless capacity to adopt new behaviors that support a long-term prosperous career. It’s also important to get into the office politics game. Pursue key relationships with team members, clients, and partners your boss respects. Ask your boss, “What is it critical for me to know and who is it critical that I get to know?” And then invite thought leaders to coffee or lunch and pick their brains. Don’t just focus “vertically” on managers above you—also create “horizontal” alliances with colleagues. You want to have support at all levels.

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Assuming that doing your job ensures security.

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you’re safe from termination. Too many people get complacent and lose motivation to be proactive about potential problems. They’ll blame leadership because it’s easier than mapping out all the possible issues involved in a project. These people will take notes at the meetings, then walk away with an “I’ll figure it out later” attitude.

There’s a simple antidote: ask questions. Many professionals are afraid of asking too many questions in fear of looking stupid. But the most direct route to self-empowerment is to be clear about expectations—not only what you expect, but also what’s expected of you. To do that, you need to ask questions, make agreements, and clarify everything in writing. Repeat what’s expected of you back to your supervisor as often as possible to be sure you’re both on the same page. Otherwise, you risk suffering the source of all upset: missed expectations.

It’s better if you’re not to blame or don’t make a mistake.

Clearly James Dyson didn’t prescribe to the habit of blaming others…or wavering on his tenacious dream. How many design prototypes of that vacuum did he try? That’s right, it was 5,127. Most people stay in the safe zone and wonder why they never make it to the end zone. It’s easy to claim responsibility when things go well, but it’s hard when they don’t. A truly responsible person, however, accepts responsibility either way. So next time you take on a project, be 100% responsible for the outcome. Not a little. Not somewhat. Not pretty much. Own it 100%—good or bad—with no wiggle room. When you make a mistake, own it, but also take the time to figure out what you learned from it.

Featured photo credit: Financial Times photos via imcreator.com

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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