10 stupid career-limiting moves… …and how to avoid them

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Jay A. Allen 10 years, 1 month ago.

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  • #111433

    Henry Brown

    From John Heckers via Mike Wash, the CIO of GPO, blog

    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.

  • #111441

    Jay A. Allen

    Thoughts I have on this, which are not always carried out in action (basic human failure).

    1. Concur. And when experience wanes, go looking.
    2. Concur, to a point. If you have values, and they begin to be devalued, evaluate, reflect, and be courageous. Know your options and act with dignity.
    3, 4, 8. Concur. If you’re not going forward, you are going backward.
    5, 6, 9. Duh. (Can’t say I’ve been successful at 6, though).
    7. Concur, however. Yes, we live in the “days of entitlement” (not necessarily “enlightenment”) and the “new worker” (I would include myself in that category, however) is expecting workplace “flexibilities” to be present. The greening of government included, with the passage in both sides of Congress new rulings on telework, the new “work-life” balance is not doing less than 40 hours, it’s simply doing it where and when I want to which still meets (or exceeds) the performance objectives of the task being accomplished. If I choose to work on a weekend, why should that not be accommodated? Why require me to expand my carbon footprint by driving to my Metro-inaccessible workplace? Work-Life balance has taken on a new flavor, particularly in the Metro DC area with the congestion. I’ll still perform way more than an average of 40 hours, but it may be in a t-shirt and sweats.
    10. Concur, but this is a very complex cultural issue. There are certainly times when “challenging the norm” is appropriate, however (as you point out) call it “continuous improvement towards Six Sigma.” That way, the nods may be more North-South, then East-West.

    Thanks for the conversation starter.

  • #111439

    Gadi Ben-Yehuda

    What makes this post difficult to analyze is that it conjoins mundane advice, applicable to any professional setting (e.g #5) with counterfactual advice (e.g. #4, which may be the “kiss of death” at a design firm), with perhaps-true, but unnecessarily blustery advice (e.g. #7, which is more true in certain offices). So the author seems both clueless and obvious.

    Add to that the strangeness of paying $25,000 to the person who would say this so he could tell you more things in this vein (or dropping 100K on car, which I seriously doubt anyone on GovLoop is going to do for quite some time)?

    I also want to point out what should be clear: if you launch an attack on work-life balance, you alienate parents (full disclosure: like myself) who either want to spend time with their children or simply can’t afford 24-hour day care. Another way I have come to think about this issue: my children represent this guy’s Social Security payments. It’s in everyone’s best interest to give them the highest probability of good-paying jobs, no?

  • #111437

    Jenyfer Johnson

    #7 is a slippery slope and I can see both sides.

    I worked for many years as a single mother with a young son, who was in a YMCA daycare (excellent BTW) and worked 40+ a week as a Program Manager. It was tough and there was no body offering to accomodate me because that wasn’t the “flavor” back then. When I had to respond to a spill after-hours, I put my son in the car, parked outside the “hot zone”, gave him something to do, cracked the window and told him “Mommy has to work; I’ll be back to check on you.” It’s the way things were. So I understand what Henry is saying about just sucking it up and doing the job. It’s not an entitlement. Sometimes the job has to come first and you just have to do what you have to do. My son is now 21, a fully functioning adult and no worse for wear. We laugh over the times I had to take him to some of the things because the spill team would visit with him when they were done. He was like their mascot.

    But alot of these younger employees want to spend more time with their kids and that’s where telework is a great option. Do I think it’s an entitlement? Not really…I think of it as an option that may be available on some jobs, for some people.

  • #111435

    Jeff S

    I guess this is why I am in a dead end job I have commited 2,3,4,6,8,9 and 10

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