If you are experiencing a lack of progress in your career, it is easy to offer up reasons that have nothing to do with you. It’s the economy, company policies, the boss, or maybe you never received proper training. These may all be true, but it may also be time to take a step back and evaluate yourself. Are you your own worst enemy? Not everything is in your control, so you can’t spend 1 minute thinking about those things. But, many things are in your control, and most of them have to do with attitudes and behaviors. There are barriers to success, and if you find yourself stumbling on the path, it could be time to make some adjustments.
Lack of Humility – A sense of entitlement, resistance to accepting advice, thinking you know it all, refusing to accept correction, thinking the rules don’t apply to you, making excuses for poor performance, blaming others-your boss, your co-workers, or company policies, thinking too highly of yourself, and that you are better than others of a “lower position.” If there is one thing I’ve learned in 20 years of teaching and training, it is that I cannot coach a person who already knows everything.
Be coachable. Receive correction from those who are more experienced than you. Ask for feedback before it is offered. Own your mistakes. Refuse to play the blame game. Be kind to the receptionist, the janitor, the parking lot attendant. Everyone you work with deserves to be treated kindly, regardless of their position or title. Stop thinking about what others should do for you. Go the extra mile for others with no thought about yourself.
Lack of Respect or Honor – This goes hand in hand with a Lack of Humility – treating your boss or other superiors with familiarity, thinking you’re just as good as they are, and putting yourself on their level, being disrespectful to your supervisors behind their back or openly, questioning them in front of your peers, rolling your eyes when they are speaking, looking at your phone or email or not paying attention during meetings, being too good to get them a cup of coffee or pick up their lunch. This person is not going to be offered a raise or promotion.
Have respect for your supervisors and those who are more successful than you. Stand up when your boss enters the room. Look them in the eye when they speak to you. Stop what you are doing. Give him or her your full attention. Make it your business to volunteer for everything that your boss has need of. If something is bothering him or her, be determined to find the solution. Don’t wait to be asked. If something needs to be done, do it. Make yourself indispensable. If you want more (money, responsibility, honor, and respect), then you must do more. You must give more (effort, energy, honor, and respect).
Complaining – having a negative comment about every new policy or procedure, being resistant to change, the need to get people to agree with you. Complainers create a toxic environment that kills growth and productivity. Don’t be a complainer or a partner to one. If approached by someone who is complaining, offer an immediate positive response. Refuse to engage.
If you have fundamental disagreements with a company such that you cannot work without constant complaining, then you need to find another job. Get with the program or get out. If you persist, it will destroy your attitude and those of your co-workers. Think of the company as a small boat. Each employee has an oar. If 3 out of 6 people are rowing in opposite directions, the boat goes nowhere or goes in circles. And, remember, you are on the boat too, going nowhere.
Analysis Paralysis – waiting for conditions to be perfect before you make a move, needing to know everything about a situation, conducting exhaustive research, running endless reports, running through all the what-ifs. The root of this is fear, the fear of making mistakes. This is also known as perfectionism. Perfection sounds wonderful, but it is a myth. There is no such thing. Those who make the most mistakes, make the most progress. Those who make no mistakes, make no progress.
We learn best from those things we do not do correctly the first time. Some of us need to make the same mistake multiple times before we find our way through. Very few mistakes in our work cannot be corrected, and we may learn from ALL of them. Do not fear mistakes. Embrace them as learning opportunities. Try new things. Challenge the way things have always been done. Look for innovative solutions. When in doubt, just do something, and learn from the results.
Multi-Tasking – The opposite of Analysis Paralysis, Multi-Tasking, is taking on everything at once. Multi-tasking sounds like a great ability, and employers think this is what they want. But what you have going on is a lack of focus. Your brain can only do one thing at a time well. Do you want to do many mediocre things, or one thing excellently? If you spread yourself too thin you will forget things; you will drop balls. It takes longer to get three things done simultaneously than it does to do each thing one at a time.
Focus is essential for success. When someone is speaking to you, either on the phone or in person, stop reading emails, stop typing, and put your phone down. Do one thing at a time, and follow it through to the end before starting another thing. I hear all the excuses, now. Look, I know what you are saying. But, if you take control of your time, you can make this work. Prioritize and reorganize. Table one item before picking up another. Whether you want to deal with it or not, you can only effectively do one thing at a time. This is why your kids ask for permission to do things while you’re talking on the phone! Even kids know this truth.
About the Author:
Karen Aggas, M.Ed., CSP, CSC – is a certified staffing professional and serves as the Corporate Trainer for Burnett’s Staffing, a Texas-based employment agency established in 1966. Burnett’s Staffing is a trusted expert in the recruitment industry. For more information about Karen and Burnett’s Corporate team click here!