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Don't make these career-killing mistakes

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Everyone makes mistakes at the office, and in their careers. But, as in our personal lives, some mistakes are deadlier than others.

Don’t let these five career mistakes derail your career.

Burning bridges along the way. So often, fields are small ponds – everyone knows each other (or at least knows of each other). Having a stellar reputation goes a long way. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that people will talk more about your mistakes and failings than they will about your successes. That goes double for anything that may be interpreted as a character flaw. Don’t put yourself in a position where you have said or done something that can come back to haunt you.

Forgetting that you have to prove yourself. I once overhead an intern complain because her supervisor wanted to observe her make follow-up calls to clients. However, when she began conducting the calls, it soon became apparent that more coaching was in order. Whether you are just starting out or are a 20-year veteran in your field, remember than you have to prove yourself as an asset every single day. Don’t get complacent, and don’t get defensive if you are asked to show your progress or report on a status.

Having a bad attitude. Even the most talented and intelligent people will get tripped up by a bad attitude. If you are the colleague who complains every morning when getting her coffee, stop now. You may think you’re just venting, but you are sabotaging your career. Nobody wants to promote the Complainer. Moreover, a bad attitude will poison everything you do. It will color your perception of others negatively, impede your progress and prevent you from being objective. If you are guilty of this, work on trying to be more positive.

Not asking for feedback. Quiz your boss regularly about your performance. Don’t wait for your annual review. Nip any problems in the bud. for example, at the end of a project, “What could I have done differently? What skills do I need to work on so I can handle more responsibility down the line? What’s the best approach for getting those skills?”

Playing office politics. Just say no. Seriously. Don’t gossip – eventually, it will get back to your boss and/or the person you are talking about. It will ruin your reputation and distract you. When you get enmeshed in gossiping or office politics, you forget about the goals, mission and getting the job done.

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