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Careering towards the abyss

Publishing Date : 08 December, 2014


Many of you out there are probably familiar with LinkedIn – the professional networking e-club which specialises in linking up like-minded business people both locally and around the globe.  It also publishes on-line articles on any number of corporate advice, often topical and worth reading.

One such recently posted article was by Alan Cutter, CEO of AC Lion which specialises in recruiting senior management staff for digital and emerging media.  Entitled ‘How To Ruin Your Career in 6 Easy Steps’, the piece lays out some serious DON’Ts which are tantamount to professional suicide and which merit repeating here today.

Number 1, according to Alan:
1. Back out of a new job
“Once you make a decision to accept a position, you should stick with it. Be a man/woman of your word. Unless there is an extremely strong reason to jump ship, stop going on interviews and pursuing other options.  You can bet your jilted employer will talk, and word will spread. It is usually a small world in industry circles, and it is wise to always conduct yourself with the utmost professionalism.”

I would temper that by saying if you find yourself in the situation where after some soul-searching you decide the new post you’ve been offered and accepted just isn’t for you, or if indeed their offer has been gazumped and you’ve found a better deal, man, or woman, up.  Call the CEO or the HR manager as soon as you’re sure and let them know what and why - they may not be too happy but they’re all grown-ups and they will understand.

Number 2 is a really common fault hereabouts:

2. Resist change
Remove the “never”s from your vocabulary and be open to alternative ways of thinking or doing things. Keep an open mind! Close-mindedness will only get you so far. Failing to embrace new ideas and perspectives will significantly increase your chances of being left behind or descending into complacency.

The world is changing and so is the world of business.  There are newer and better ways of doing things so be open to them.  Try them out and then and only then if you’re not happy with them or you genuinely believe they’re not working then you should bring it up with management or the Board.

Number 3 should be the byword of every single company in existence:

3. Over-promise and under-deliver
You think you are doing yourself (and others) a favour by talking yourself up, but if you can’t walk the walk, you will surely end up disappointing co-workers and clients. Do not make any promises you can not keep. Manage your time effectively and turn in your projects on or ahead of time. If you feel overwhelmed or know that you may not be able to complete something on schedule, speak up and delegate tasks to others if possible. Keep communication open and ensure everyone is on the same page.

This doesn’t mean lowering your standards – far from it.  It means raise the bar as high as you can but know you and your company’s limitations.  And if a delay or problem arises, let the client know.  Lack of communication will lend the kiss of death to future business.

Number 4 leads right on from 3:

4. Make excuses
Do not make yourself the victim at work. No one likes a martyr, and honestly it gets old fast. It should not be anyone else’s fault that you missed the mark. If you don’t have the answers, ask the right questions. Be a problem solver, not just a problem identifier. Beating yourself up won’t do you any favours either. Learn from your mistakes, and most importantly, take responsibility for your actions.  On the flip side, take responsibility for your successes too! You may see self-deprecation or deflection as humility, but all it really does is negatively alter other people’s perception of you. Don’t attribute your talents or accomplishments to pure luck. Accept credit where credit is due.

In other words, offer solutions, not problems – simple.  And if your good work gets noticed, bask in the glory but only until the next problem arises.

Number 5 is basically shooting your-self in the foot:

5. Send a nasty email
It happens. You are livid and want to send an angry email to tell off a co-worker who threw you under the bus. Or maybe you’re feeling bitter about being turned down for a job unfairly. You believe you will come out on top and really “stick it to ‘em,” but in reality you’re just portraying yourself as immature and hot-headed. That is not who people want to work with. Always allow yourself to cool off before hitting send. You ideally do not want anything in writing that could be distributed around the block. Defend yourself when necessary, but always remain strategic.

To that I would add be very very careful to whom you copy any mail.  And of course in these days of social network sites, remember that Big Brother from work is often monitoring you so be careful mouthing off or venting on Twitter or Facebook.  Have a good old-fashioned moan with your mates in the pub if you must, but don’t commit anything to writing and don’t send it off zipping round Cyberspace unchecked.

Number 6 – you know it’s wrong, so why do it?

6. Tell Lies
Being trustworthy and honest is a fundamental characteristic that will always be valued. When you make a mis-step you should own up to it right away. Getting caught in a lie is more detrimental to your reputation than admitting you are wrong.
I tell my staff this all the time—I’d much rather have someone own up to a mistake than try to cover it up. The cover up always just makes it worse, and makes me doubt them even more. Honesty is always the best policy, even if it’s a hard truth to take. And it is not enough just to tell the truth — be somewhat transparent rather than mysterious. Your credibility will be more stable when others feel they can understand your processes and aren’t left in the dark.

Remember the wise words of Scottish poet Robert Burns: ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive’.  And as the saying goes, ‘Tell the truth and shame the devil’.
So if you ticked any of the above boxes, you know what your New Year work resolution is going to be, don’t you?

STUART WHITE is the Managing Director of HRMC and they can be reached on 395 1640 or at www.hrmc.co.bw



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