If you want to have a long and successful career, here are three mistakes to avoid. (This piece was originally published September, 2007.)
Employee turnover hurts not only those receiving their "walking papers," but employers as well. It's a costly, though avoidable, problem. At my coaching practice, BusinessSuccessCoach.net, I often see the same detrimental effects that some actions repeatedly have on different individuals.
If you want to have a long and successful career, here are three mistakes to avoid.
1. Failing to have a personal action plan – Like companies, the very successful career managers know where they're headed. They have a clear plan, whether it’s memorized or actually written down; after they create it, they continually massage it, and refer to it often. That said, I am constantly amazed that many managers who would never think of trying to run their department or organization without an annual plan and regular reviews somehow think they can do a great job of running their life without one.
When I am brought in to an organization to work with someone who is on the brink of being let go; I always start by asking him or her what they want out of their professional life. Invariably, these folks don’t know.
And of course, if you don’t know where you’re going, how can you expect to get there?
Ask any really successful individual if they have a plan for their career, their personal life and or their financial status and you’ll find that over 85% of them have a plan. They may not have it written down; but they can tell you what they intend to do.
2. Failing to deliver results – Winners in business know that it’s all about accountability.
Those who harbor a sense of entitlement for simply having put forth effort, irrespective of the results of those efforts, are guaranteed to fall by the wayside.
In many companies, it seems like promotions and raises are often granted based more on who one knows, or one’s appearance and not being a competent manager. Many companies appear to make promotion decisions about based on seniority without much weight on results. In such environments it’s easy to become complacent; believing that results don’t matter, or worse that you are bulletproof.
Surprise! In today’s job market, no one is bulletproof forever. And nobody survives forever without delivering the goods at least some of the time. Take a hard look at what you’re giving the company with your efforts – can your performance being quantifiably shown as making a difference? If all you can report are soft and squishy contributions that don’t make an impact of the company’s key objectives or financial targets – you’re at risk.
Also, don’t be one of those losers who inappropriately take full credit for positive results despite the help or input received by others. Winners give credit where credit is due. Losers inevitably reap what they sow.
3. Failing to self promote – Bragging is one thing, but ensuring that others throughout your company are aware of what you’re contributing is simply a smart practice. Losers often fail to recognize the importance of letting others know about their successes, or go about it in entirely the wrong way.
Relying on others to look after you is a quaint idea at best. I’m pretty certain it was naïve even in the good old days when everyone drove a Ford or Chevy; while Mom stayed home to look after the house while Dad went about five miles to his job; and no one doubted that the USA would be the dominant leader in technology and management practice.
In today’s world, decisions affecting one’s career are made very quickly. I know execs in startups who thought that they’d just joined a new company that was going to make them wealthy with a long-term career, but then saw the company bought out by a competitor. I’ve also known people who had enjoyed a good career but their employer couldn’t succeed due to industry evolvement. They found themselves talking to a new supervisor about why they should be kept in the new entity. A bad place to be.
Make certain that people in your company and elsewhere in your industry know of your success through whatever means available. Don’t put your future in the hands of others who are going to be preoccupied with their own long-term success.