Sometimes getting ahead at work means making all the right moves…But sometimes, climbing the ladder and winning the respect of your bosses and peers simply means dropping the habits that are standing in your way. Too often, ambitious employees don’t realize that these very common and socially acceptable behaviors are actually preventing their professional growth. Drop these self-sabotaging moves—even if doing so requires courage. Then watch what happens to your career.
1. Waiting for praise.
You just completed a difficult project. You polished the pitch, made your presentation to the client, and achieved about 75 percent of what you set out to accomplish. You didn’t hit a perfect homerun, but you didn’t crash and burn either….at least, as far as you can tell. You don’t know what your boss thinks. So you head back to your desk and you wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually new work comes your way and life goes on. Here’s what to do instead: Stop waiting. Don’t let your boss decide when you’ve done well or when it’s time for a promotion or a raise. Evaluate the project on your own terms, using your own metrics. And if you did well, collect your own reward. Sit down with your boss and directly request the advancements and compensation you know you’ve earned.
2. Letting others help themselves to what’s yours.
You made a suggestion in the meeting, and everyone ignored your words and carried on. A minute later, someone else makes the same suggestion using different words and is praised for the brilliant contribution. Instead of sitting still and politely shrugging this off, raise your voice. Reinsert yourself, claim the idea (as in: “I just said that”) and add the details and implementation plans that you already have in mind.
3. Defending yourself unnecessarily.
You usually arrive at work twenty minutes early. But today, your car gave you trouble and you actually arrived at the stroke of nine (or even five minutes after). Your boss asks you to explain yourself. If your first impulse is to apologize and describe your car trouble in detail, stop. Don’t do this. Your behavior was in no way out of line and you have no need to explain or defend yourself. Move past this moment with a shrug and a Mona Lisa smile and change the subject.
4. Getting angry and not doing anything.
Don’t get angry at work. No matter what you do for a living, if lives aren’t at stake, it’s a good idea to keep your emotional investment within bounds. If you find yourself simmering with rage or resentment, do whatever it takes to back up, get some perspective and cool your head. Meanwhile, when someone does something that you don’t like (including your boss), have the courage to calmly confront the person, explain what isn’t working for you, and get their side of the story. The worst move: simmering furiously but saying and doing nothing. The best move: Keeping a cool head and taking decisive and appropriate action.For more on how to navigate the rough waters of working life, explore the job search and career support resources at MyPerfectResume.