Contrary to what you might be thinking, if your career is faltering and not where you’d like it to be at this moment in time, are you doing things, perhaps unknowingly, that are holding you back? Listed below are some examples of what I mean. The stakes are high as you could end up in a dead end job and, five years hence, wonder why nothing has changed for you. So, instead of waiting for a wake up call, start turning things around now, it’s urgent!
When ‘No’ means ‘Yes’
You keep saying ‘Yes’ to demands on your time and as a result your work is suffering. You’re now in the habit of working late just to keep up and this is getting you down; no one else seems to be working the hours you do. You don’t like disappointing people and you don’t want them to think badly of you, so you keep saying ‘Yes’. Practise saying ‘No’ politely, by suggesting another option that doesn’t involve you. Setting boundaries is essential if you want to develop your career.
At meetings you try to keep a low profile and often talk yourself out of making valid points. You don’t want to make a fool of yourself or draw attention to yourself, so you keep quiet. You’ve noticed that if you do talk your voice falters and gets higher and your hands start sweating and your face is blushing. Indeed, feeling self-conscious will always trip you up. The secret is to shift your focus from being on you, to thinking about other people in the room who need to hear what you’ve got to say. Participating matters, because it’s noticed when you don’t. So, if you have your sights on going for promotion or making a career move into management, you need to find your own voice.
You keep saying ‘Sorry’ for no apparent reason. The other day you had to get some important documents signed at work at the last minute and you kept apologising for taking up the CEO’s time. Furthermore, you were doing this in your own time as you don’t take lunch breaks, you haven’t got time. Feeling inferior does your career no favours at all. Suggest systems and procedures for enabling things to happen on time. Indeed, managing your time well is a prerequisite for career success.
You have difficulty in trusting your own judgement and being ‘authentic.’ When a senior manager asks you for something you hesitate and say you’ve got to check with someone else first, even though you know the answer, but feel you need to double check just in case. What if you started to believe in yourself and anticipated a good rather than bad outcome? This would make a big difference to your reputation and the good impression you want to make. Be prepared to apologise if things go wrong, and they will. The important thing is to learn from your mistakes and not be afraid of them. Keep stretching your comfort zone as this is when you could make great career decisions.
You believe that everything you do must be ‘perfect.’ This is becoming a problem because no matter how hard you try not to make mistakes you end up making obvious ones. The other day you just about met a deadline and for a moment you felt pleased about this. Then you realised that you hadn’t checked the final document and it had a number of errors. Indeed, you’re constantly trying to ‘get there’ but never quite make it. We all know people like this, they’re called ‘perfectionists.’ The secret is to believe that you’re ‘good enough’ and to adjust your expectations accordingly. You’ll get more job satisfaction and increased motivation, that’ll boost your performance and your career progression.
Mind your language
Are you using words that weaken your message or impact? For example, I think, maybe, just, very, only, a little etc. And, do you give instructions ambiguously, ‘I don’t suppose you could do this, could you?’ Make a note of the language you’re using and choose alternatives that are assertive and get you the outcome you want. If you’re serious about taking your career to the next level you must be able to influence people to your way of thinking or opinions, and as such your language will need to support you. And, whatever you do avoid putting yourself down as being no good or useless at something in particular.
You believe that you’ve got to do everything on your own and feel reluctant to ask for help. Break tasks down and where possible get others to help you and reciprocate. Identify your top strengths, these are the things that you’re naturally good at and use these to good effect. Notice what other people are good at and play to their strengths. If you work as a team you’ll get things done more easily and effectively. And, this will help with your career progression. Get known for being someone who has a ‘can do attitude.’
First impressions really do count and will shape how other people respond to you. How are you presenting yourself at work? Get some feedback from someone you can trust. If you make an effort this will show up in your body language, you’ll feel more confident too and you’ll start acting accordingly. As a result, you’ll come across as being professional, which again will help with getting you career success.