The worst kinds of career gaffes are those you do unintentionally. It’s easy to see why reaming out the boss or taking an unscheduled vacation might get you into hot water, but more subtle self-destructive behaviors can be just as damaging. Here are a few to watch out for.
While it’s essential to be productive and possess a strong work ethic, you don’t want to be perceived as the person who couldn't care less about her co-workers. If you never make casual conversation and are always declining happy hour invites, your managers and colleagues are going to think you don’t like them, which will cause them not to like you – and we far prefer to work with people we like and with whom we have strong personal bonds. So if there’s a clique you can tolerate, join it. The “I’m not here to make friends” attitude is a good way to ensure you aren't there at all.
Layoffs and firings rarely come completely out of nowhere. By ignoring signs that your industry or company is floundering, you are much more likely to get caught in a job loss situation from which it’s difficult to recover. For example, if more and more of your job responsibilities are being automated, you'd better start developing some skills that can't be. And if you've been given a performance improvement plan, don't get defensive. Instead, treat it like your own personal Bible and follow it to the letter.
Once you get to a certain level, you are removed from much of the action in your department and it’s easy to lose sight of what’s really going on. Complacency can rear its ugly head, and next thing you know your skills are lagging and your experience is no longer relevant. Maybe you've also developed a bit of an ego and think you're invincible. Recognize that now that you’re a leader, self-awareness and continuous improvement have never been more critical. Take the opposite view and you’ll eventually be replaced with someone who “gets it.”
Are you the type of person who is never satisfied and is always looking for a better opportunity? If you’re spending your days trolling around job boards and LinkedIn, you probably aren’t focusing on your job. Organizations and their managers can smell when someone isn’t engaged and when her heart and soul are elsewhere. If your job genuinely stinks, then get out. But if you’re just a “grass is always greener” employee, re-consider how good you have it and fully commit to your role. Your company will be much more likely to trust and want to invest in you, which in turn will lead to a better overall situation.
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