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20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

20 Common Work Mistakes You May Have Been Making Every Day

You want to get ahead at work, but your journey to the top won’t have to take nearly as long if you stop making these common work mistakes.

1. Overworking.

According to the U.S. BLS, Americans are 400% more productive now than they were in 1950. And you want to prove your worth, so you pack on the projects just to show you’re capable of carrying the world (and maybe Venus, too) on your shoulders. But all you’re doing is draining your capacity to crank out the stellar work you need to produce. The more you work, the more stupid you become, making costly mistakes because of your decreased brain volume (thank you, stress).

Work less, but smarter.

2. Powering through.

In 2012, only one in five Americans left their desks for lunch. But working through your break decreases your productivity and your focus. When you take breaks, you give your brain the time it needs to recharge and refresh, and this is uncompromisable (especially in creative jobs).

If you feel you’re on a roll, jot down some memory-jogging notes and you’ll pick up exactly where you left off when you get back, steam gained, not lost.

3. Lack of sleep.

No matter how many times it’s been said, it’s never enough. Many of us just don’t like to sleep. We feel unproductive and slack. But in reality, NOT sleeping makes us less productive! Sleep strengthens our memory, allows us to prep mentally for the tasks ahead, and even regulates our metabolism, as reported by recent studies in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Stop shaving hours off your night, start adding quality to your work.

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4. Writing nonsense.

You may have a lot to say in that email to your colleague or boss, but avoid it. Chit-chat is the fastest way to get that email deleted instead of read. Leaders at the top of any powerful organization refuse to read or send long emails.

You want to send a pro impression. Keep your emails short (under 300 words) and to the point, and the recipient will love that you respect their time and will actually read it.

5. Slouching.

Just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean you get to slouch. Slouching is not only bad for your posture, it’s bad for your image. People perceive slouchers as slackers. Your posture influences how people perceive you, as well as how confident you are. Amy Cuddy and her famous TED Talk on power postures reveals there are physical changes that happen when we adopt a particular stance and that explains why we are perceived as leaders when we stand tall and straight.

You’re in this game to win it, so work on aligning those shoulders with your ears. You may even get a raise out of it.

6. Not looking at the big picture.

You work in an office, yes, but you still want to be a leader. Do you want your boss’s job? Do you want HIS boss’s job? Don’t resign yourself to the cubicle and wait for the Universe to drop a management or ownership position in your lap.

Learn how and why the leaders in your world make the decisions they make and train your brain to make decisions based on the “big picture”.

7. Rambling.

Say what you have to say and stop. Rambling makes you look like an amateur, at best. At worst? You look like a liar.

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Keep your conversations on point at all times to let your higher-ups know you mean business.

8. Looking for another job.

You might not be happy. Who would be with minimum wage and a boss with a bad attitude? But don’t look for another job while on the job you currently have. Accountemps uncovered that three out of 10 employees job hunt while on the job. Even if you’re not trying to get ahead in the office you’re in, you could bring demise faster than you planned, if you’re caught fishing off-shore.

9. Facebooking.

Facebook on company time? Salary.com surveyed employees and found that 41% are using Facebook at work. You know your boss is reading your posts, right? What do you suppose he thinks when he sees your “Delicious Mexican for lunch again today!” post? You think he’s thinking “Let’s give him a raise”? Nope. He’s wondering why you’re not pimping your company or already focusing on what you’re going to do after lunch.

10. Complaining.

Everyone has to vent. Do it when you get home. Venting at work makes you look like a nagger and a whiner, taking away points from your overall success score. Having a listening partner can do wonders for your ability to take crap in the office (making you look like the rockstar you are).

Set up a daily or weekly time to yell and scream to an objective third party who is simply going to listen and say, “I hear you. That is frustrating.”

11. Not communicating.

If you don’t talk to your team, how will they know what needs to be done? And if you and your colleagues are working on a project together, how will you figure out who does what? They’re not mind-readers. And you’re not telepathic. The National Association of IT Professionals reports that 28% of project failures are due to a lack of communication.

Work out a time for weekly meetings to get everyone on the same page. Your boss will love the initiative.

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12. Not controlling your voice.

Asking for a raise and having your voice crack right in the middle of your request is the fastest way to a denial of said request. Learn to speak confidently and clearly so you always come across as someone who knows his stuff. As Nick Morgan, author of “Power Cues: The Subtle Science of Leading Groups, Persuading Others, and Maximizing Your Personal Impact,” points out, the richer and more resonate your voice, the more authoritative you sound. So ask with your leadership voice, letting your voice rise with passion and fall with authority, and you’ll stand a better chance of getting what you want.

13. Not prepping for meetings.

You don’t just breeze into the President’s office, totally unprepared to rebut any possible retort he might have about your project. Being unprepared is not only sophomoric, it shows a great disrespect for your position and your colleagues. Bye-bye raise, promotion, and big cushy chair.

Know everything you can possibly know about your boss’s needs and anticipate his questions/comments/inquiries so you can address them on the spot.

14. Playing games.

You cannot become VP by spending your days playing phone games like Candy Crush. Lay off the games. Focus on your work. Focus on the objectives your management team expects from you. But go even bigger than that. Focus on the things that would make you a superstar in their eyes. Push yourself to the next level.

15. Being too nice.

You can’t keep doing favors for your colleagues. You work hard, right? Make the rest of your team work hard, too. If you’re letting them skate by, then you’re nothing more than the office workhorse and the only thing you’ll get for it is that haggard, overworked look around the eyes.

When people ask you to do them favors, think very well about what you’ll gain from saying yes.

16. Not smiling.

Who said smiling is overrated? Making your co-workers feel valued is a trait that will take you to the next level. It shows you’re a team player. You work for the greater good. And Pryce-Jones reported that smiling and happy people at work are engaged in work-related activities 80% of the time, as opposed to the unhappy grumblers who are productive only 40%. And if you don’t feel like smiling, here’s evidence that says doing it anyway will make you happier. Win-win!

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17. Overusing your phone.

Using your phone at work could cost you your raise if you’re spending more time with it in your hand than your mouse (Hint: We know you’re playing Candy Crush again. Or, worse, you’re on Tinder.)

Avoid the urge to check your email, answer your mother (again), or surf the web by locking your phone in your drawer, only pulling it out at lunch and on breaks.

18. Not writing it down.

Being creative is a must. If you aren’t creative, you have no advantage over the other Nagging Nancy in the next cubicle over. And ideas have the habit of coming at horribly inopportune times, which means you probably won’t remember them.

Spend time each day coming up with ideas and write them down. Keep a notebook with you and write down every idea that comes to you. You’ll not only have a created a journal of wealth, but you will have developed one of the most powerful muscle in your body: the one that is going to carry you to the top in the business world.

19. Wearing multiple faces.

This is not high school. This is the real deal. Don’t waste your valuable time making friends with all feuding parties. Inevitably, if you get embroiled in the office drama, someone will stab you in the back. Be courteous to all, but don’t take your eyes off that trophy position.

In the end, avoid as much as you can of office politics or learn how to play the game more ethically than the rest.

20. Not dressing the part.

Want to be a success? Make them think you already are one. Whatever the style of your office is, step it up one notch. Even Neil Patel talks about how simply wearing a particular watch vetted him profits. It’s important to look the part you want to play. Period.

Invest in a wardrobe that will increase your value.

These common work mistakes are keeping you squarely positioned in your cubicle. Get out by vowing to make this the year you break your bad work habits and develop habits that will smash your competition.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

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Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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