Managing your career can be frustrating at times, but when done right, you can climb that ladder in record time. Here are the six most common ways people self-sabotage their careers - do you recognize your actions in any of them? (Take our quiz to find out whether you're suited to this line of work. Check out Is A Career In Financial Planning In Your Future?)
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1. Constantly Showing Up Late
You may not think it's such a big deal, and may not even realize you're doing it, but no one likes a person who doesn't seem to respect others. Every time you show up late to a meeting, to work, to an outing and are full of excuses, you're subtly reminding them that you think your time is more important than theirs, and therefore you have the right to waste their time by constantly being late. Even constantly missing deadlines is a poor reflection on your time management skills, and you'll not be promoted if you can't be relied upon or trusted to deliver what you've promised.
2. Being Complacent in Your Job
So you've dazzled your way into your job and made a good impression at the start, but why stop trying? Just because you have the job, it doesn't mean it will be yours forever, seeing as job security is not quite what it used to be. Besides, do you really want to be doing the exact same job 40 years from now?
Push yourself to learn new skills, volunteer for tasks outside of your duties, and continue to show your employer how valuable and flexible you are to the organization. If ever there comes a time where layoffs are inevitable, you want to be sure that you're the last person to go.
3. Being Lazy with Your Appearance
The way you look has no bearing on how your do your job, but it definitely has an impact on how others perceive you in the office. Even if you aren't in a line of work where you have to see clients in person, if you show up in sloppy or inappropriate clothing, you're not giving the best impression of valuing your job.
When you don't care about your appearance or your personal hygiene, people assume you don't care about your job, and no one wants to work with a slob. There's no need to wear an expensive suit or get your hair done every week, but being well-kept and clean will go a long way in making sure your manager or colleagues won't find any reason to complain about you. (Experience and hard work go a long way toward securing a position in this challenging field. See 10 Steps To A Career In Hedge Funds.)
4. Playing the Backstabbing Game
You may think that you're fooling everyone by playing a vicious game of office politics in the background, but higher-ups aren't normally promoted without having proven themselves to be intelligent folk.
By backstabbing your fellow colleagues, managers may outwardly appreciate the 'inside' information into the psyche of your workmates, but they can sense your true intentions and secretly change their opinion about you to be on guard rather than grateful. Besides, if they promote you, who's to say that they won't be the next in line to be stabbed? No one wants to work with those who cannot be trusted, and executives are no different.
A little gossip here and there may seem harmless, but words can wound. You may be unconsciously spreading falsehoods about your fellow colleagues, and these things have a way of taking on a life of their own, which may even result in colleagues quitting or being fired. Even if nothing happens, after a while you will be known as the untrustworthy office gossip and everyone will have their guard up when they talk to you from now on.
In the end, you will be the person most gossiped about, not the other way around, and you most certainly will not be promoted because of your slyly whispered comments.
6. Avoiding Team Outings
It may seem so silly to go out to lunch once in a while with others, go to a corporate picnic, or participate in volunteering to raise money for charity, but these outings and events are meant to build connections between employees and departments. You may think your presence won't be missed if you miss them, but if you are planning on moving up in the ranks, these outings will become mandatory, and what better way than to consistently show that you're ready and committed right now?
People will recognize what you do above and beyond the call of duty, and you'll want your name to be on the tip of their tongues when it comes time to recommend names to promote from within.
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The Bottom Line
It's pretty simple to be great at work: show up on time, be presentable, don't talk about others, get along with colleagues and be good at what you were hired for. If you don't feel like you can do any of the above at your current job, perhaps it's time to look for another company or at another line of work. (Stricter government regulations have put auditing professionals in demand. Check out Examining A Career As An Auditor.)