Whether aspiring for a top-position in the company or just wanting a comfortably sustainable work-life, we all want to be successful in our careers. Some employees work extended hours and go the extra mile in order to build credibility. All struggle to meet deadlines to please our boss or just get a good rating on our annual appraisal. But did you know that despite all these efforts, there are a few mistakes employees make that may result to the opposite. In this article, we will examine them and find out how we can avoid them from ruining what we have worked for.
Top 10 – Turning Down Colleague Invitations.
We are not working to make friends, but it would not hurt if we have some. Turning down invitations to a party, lunch, or other simple get-togethers can greatly impact the way your work with colleagues. Of course, we do not mean that you need to get uncontrollably get drunk with them, only that these gatherings provide an opportunity to build a better understanding on how your coworkers communicate. It is okay to share some of your personal information in these sessions, but you do not need to share too much that it fuels office gossips. Instead, focus on asking questions, making observations, and listening so you can discover more about your coworkers.
Top 9 – Basking Too Much in Glory/ Knowing Too Much
One major reason why you got your job is because your accomplishments speak about your abilities. As such, there is no need to repeatedly share and go over them with coworkers. Sure, you may have done something great in a previous work engagement; now let your results speak for themselves. Especially in the Filipino culture, discussing your greatness is not exactly seen positively. It may come off as overconfident and entitled. When someone talks about your achievements however, just say a simple thanks or any gesture of appreciation. You do not want to send them the message that you do not value their appreciation of your success, but you also do not want to oversell it.
Top 8 – Forgetting Their Professional Image
We often want to express our individuality through clothing. This does not always mean that we can wear whatever color of hair we want. Our workplace usually has a dress code, whether documented or unspoken. Consider getting the vibe or researching about the do’s-and-don’ts in the office. Having tattoos these days is also often not an issue, but in some offices and work designations, it could be taboo. Have a general understanding of how acceptable this is in your workplace before you decide to get one. When unsure, just cover it up as much as possible. Always wear clean and well-pressed clothes when going to work however relaxed your workplace is with the dress code. Ideally, wear something with sleeves and collar. Most managers believe that dressing well can help you get ahead at work and it sends the right message to everyone. Of course, we are not claiming that good clothing will get you promoted by itself, but neither will bad clothing for sure; so choose wisely what you would like to express to your coworkers and managers through what you are wearing.
Top 7 – Not Making Eye Contact
When we mention work, we mean we are busy as a machine that sometimes we forget that we are still humans. Sometimes a coworker or two approaches you to ask about a very pressing work-related question. Because you are so consumed with your task, you end up multitasking; passively listening on one hand and typing on your computer screen. While you may not see the immediate impact, this behavior makes you lose a very important aspect of communication: visuals and feedback. By not doing eye contact with your coworker, you are sending the message that they are not important enough to merita chunk of your time. Imagine what impact that message can have to your direct reports, or even to your manager. When you are busy and can absolutely not attend to the person asking, pause what you are doing and calmly ask how urgently they need an answer. If it is not urgent, set a more reasonable time for a quick conversation at your soonest possible chance. If it is urgent, then attend to it right away. This will make sure that you are sending the right message and that you are there for things that truly matter.
Top 6 – Abuse of Technology
So you have a new phone and you get excited to SMS your friends that you do this even during office hours. During meetings, you are either looking at your phone or laptop. It seems no one can get between you and your phone. While these gadgets are great and can make work-relation communications easier, a lot of people overuse their gadget at work. Whether false or otherwise, this sends a message to everyone that you may not be as focused. Minimizing your face-time with your gadgets can go a long way. When in a meeting, using the old-fashioned notebook can encourage more interactions and helps you focus on taking notes only on the important items of the meeting. In the work-area, it is a best practice to assign a regular place where you can safely keep your phone. This will minimize the distractions it can create to your daily work.
Top 5 – Lack of Netiquette
Perhaps because technology is always evolving, we may not have enough time to establish norms in etiquette for using the internet and other such advancements. For instance, while some are engaged on their phones for non-work activities, some use technology for work-related tasks, but a little too much. During the pandemic, some managers seem to think that they can call, video-conference, SMS, or email to communicate work tasks at any time of the day. And they also sometimes expect results pronto. We definitely need to be reminded that work-life balance and work-life integration need to take place regardless of whether we are in the office or working from home.
There are a lot of other things we can still improve in terms of Netiquette. Work email should also be written with finesse and professionalism, avoiding miscommunication. Highlight words and phrases using cool colors instead to red, to avoid misinterpretation. Minimize the use of all-caps to avoid appearing to be angry. Wear what you would wear in the office when you are at home for a video-call. The list goes on.
Top 4 – Saying “I don’t Know”
There is nothing more annoying that hearing someone say, “I don’t know…” especially if you are asking something within their work responsibility. So while you should not lie about things that you know or do not know, there is always a more professional way of handling it. Try saying,
“I do not have that information right now. Let me find out…”
“May you point me to where I can get that information?”
“Allow me to look into this further. I will get back to you in a bit”
“I apologize that don’t have that data. Let me verify it.”
Top 3 – Procrastination
Sometimes, our worst enemy is ourselves. In a workplace where everything is all about deliverables and results, there is no excuse for not meeting the deadline. But when we manage our time, we often find little things that distract us from our real priorities. We sometimes delay doing the more complex tasks to as further down the line as we can because it is usually difficult to start. We may not realize that procrastination is NOT about being lazy. It has nothing to do with your will power. It is a natural response to being stressed. So, just like all other responses to being stressed, you can condition yourself to minimize procrastination by using the 5-Second Rule, as explained in her book by Mel Robbins. When you catch yourself procrastinating or when you feel yourself avoiding your task, acknowledge that you are stressed. Allow five seconds to think about this and acknowledge then force yourself to work for five minutes. Just five minutes. Then, tell yourself that you will do whatever it is you want to do afterward. Then, you will realize you are already putting more work. This technique will also will improve how you focus further on in the task.
Top 2 – Gossiping
Nothing turns off a manager more than an employee who likes gossiping. Talking about other people in the workplace really takes the cake among the list of things that can ruin one’s career. Being in the habit of gossiping may take away any possibility of future opportunities for you in the workplace. Instead of spending your time on gossip, learn new skills, and focus on your tasks instead. Gossiping is a form of procrastination so, if you are one of those who may tend to love talking about other people’s business in the office, you may perhaps also use the 5-Second Rule to manage yourself (And perhaps you can instead procrastinate by watching cat and dog videos online).
Top 1 – Overpromising and Underdelivering
This often happens to us Filipinos because we find it hard to say, “No” to people. As such, we end up accepting multiple tasks from our managers. Each task we accept is a promise that we need to deliver on. However, when the number of tasks pile up, it becomes unmanageable and puts us into a spiral of undelivered promises. This greatly hurts our career and other possible work opportunities in the future. So, how should we avoid it? Only accept work that you can manage. If you manager gives you so much more than you can handle, learn to negotiate. Discuss with your manager the tasks you have at hand and provide sufficient evidence that the tasks are not possible to complete. You may also ask for movement of some of your other deadlines and emphasize on the business impacts of assigning an additional task to you. But keep in mind not to decline tasks only for your convenience.
So there you have it. These are our top 10 common mistakes employees make that ruin their careers. It is okay if we may be guilty making these mistakes ourselves, as long as we know that awareness can lead to taking control of the matter. The next step now is to manage yourself by using some of the tips we discussed.
Do you agree to our list? What other mistakes do employees make that ruin their career? Share your thoughts by adding your comments below.