Ok, let’s establish the fact that I’m not a runner. Like I’ve told my brother (who is a runner, biker, and into all things cardio) more than once, “That just doesn’t look fun.” But, on occasion, when properly motivated, I have been known to run…including once when a serious lapse of judgment took hold and I decided to try to be Rocky outrunning Apollo on the beach (gratuitous Rocky III reference). And it was indeed confirmed…it was not fun at all.
I talk to people all the time who feel exactly that same feeling in their job. They exert a tremendous amount of effort to see little result. No matter how hard they run, they just dig deeper and deeper in, and make no real progress.
Right now I can see you nodding your head, and completely identifying.
While there may be a lot of different reasons why this may be the case, there are a few that I see on a fairly recurrent basis. And here’s the kicker: none that make my list lay at the feet of the company. The reason being two fold: first, there’s nothing you can do about those. All you can do is to control the controllables…that’s you. Second, in today’s marketplace you can no longer afford to tie yourself to just one organization. We live in a free-agent market, and you have to adjust your career approach to fit that model. Now I know that sounds like I’m preaching disloyalty, but that’s not my intent. In fact, I believe exactly the opposite. When you accepted your position you entered into a barter arrangement: pay for services. And I believe, ethically and morally, it’s your responsibility to fulfill that agreement to the absolute best of your ability. But the truth is, not many employers still offer all that one needs to grow and advance the career. With companies increasingly relying on technology, and majoring in specialization, fewer are providing the “from the mailroom to the boardroom” tract. So that leaves you having to become a hunter-gatherer of the skills and competencies required to advance to the places that you desire to be.
So…here’s the top of my list of CLMs (career limiting moves) and how to avoid/repair it:
You lack credibility
The word credibility comes from the root word “Credo”, which means “To believe”. So if you have credibility you’ve been successful in getting other people to believe in you. If not, then the opposite is true.
Pay attention to how you dress and how you groom. Trendy works on TV and in the magazines, but unless you work for a creative it probably doesn’t work in your office. Rule of thumb: if it draws attention it’s not conservative enough.
Guard your mouth. Communicate professionally at all times. Curse words are never professional. Slang should be minimized. Don’t talk like you text (NEVER NEVER say OMG). Expand your vocabulary. Become an expert of your industry jargon.
Keep relationships appropriate. It’s important to keep in focus the line between being friendly and being friends. It’s important to esprit de corps that we are congenial and friendly. But when we lose focus on that line is when we are in danger of losing focus on why we are at work. If you are in leadership (GM, AGM, Supervisor) this is critical. You just can’t behave as if you’re BFFs one minute, then flip the switch and expect them to respect you as the boss. Once they’ve seen behind the curtain, you’ve been compromised.
Mind your social profile. Rule of thumb: what’s done in public can’t be private. Just know whether you agree with it or not, employers and potential employers are looking at your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Monitor your pictures, and what people post on your profile. On more than one occasion I’ve asked friends to keep what they post respectful, hid posts, or out and out blocked them.
Grow. Your career will never outgrow you. If you want to see your career develop, then it starts with you developing yourself. That means you will have to engage in developmental activities such as reading, taking classes, going to seminars, networking, etc. The number of ways to learn new skills, knowledge, and competencies is limitless; but, however you choose to do it, DO IT!
Make Life Happen