#1: You are not confident you can do the job at the next level.
Going back to that because it’s the number one reason. It’s a tough one to swallow, I give you that. You may be tempted to dismiss this one but don’t.
Are you really confident you can do the job at the next level and do it well?
Do you feel worthy of the responsibilities and the higher rewards that come with it?
And is this confidence and sense of self-worth showing through your actions and your words at work?
Lesson and Action: Focus on one thing you can do differently to be more confident. It can be our posture when you sit up and stand to present, your voice when you speak at meetings, and the way you talk bout your work. Pick one area and begin to show your confidence – not arrogance, but confidence and assertiveness – about it.
#2: You do not have a company owner mindset.
A company owner mindset is one of the key pillars of moving up the corporate ladder. This alone can get you more than halfway there. How you think says a lot about the company and it shows through your actions. Let me explain.
If you see yourself as just an employee, or as someone working for the company, then your employer will see you that way. You do your work and expect to get paid. You follow guidelines and want to get rewarded. But if you start to think like a company owner, you become the company – a concept that we go into together in Crack the Code to Get Promoted – then you act and talk entirely differently.
That’s when your employer notices you almost immediately and puts opportunities out there for you to succeed.
Lesson and Action: Observe the way you interact with your co-workers and your boss. Do you express how you feel about the company? Do you engage in gossip? Do you complain? Ask yourself if you would do all of that if you were one of the company owners.
#3: You think too small and have no strategic vision.
If you are only concerned with your own work, and your own projects, and if you do not understand the company vision and mission and strategy, then you are boxing yourself into a hole. If you are stuck in a corner doing a small project that nobody has heard of, you will have a hard time getting noticed, much less getting ahead.
There is a ton of corporate projects flying around all the time, and your manager may be too busy to assign you the right ones that give you opportunity and visibility so take initiative here.
Your career grows and expands when you really get your company’s vision and values. I talked about this in my interviews with company leaders (the nuggets of wisdom are in this program) and they agree on one thing:
You have got to become a strategic thinker to get promoted and advance in corporate america (or corporate anywhere).
Lesson and Action: Think bigger about your role at your company by looking at your overall contributions and then asking yourself to connect the dots between what you do and what matters most to your company.
#4: You embarrass or surprise or correct your boss in public.
Even if your boss makes a factual error in a presentation, you never ever EVER correct your boss in public. In public means more than you and him (or her) alone. When you are in a private meeting, you can gently point out the error for his reference.
Otherwise, keep silent and always be your boss’s number one supporter.
Also, never surprise your boss even with good news. Bosses do not like surprises, and you could ruin your trust with him if you get clever here. And please, don’t embarrass your boss. Like, ever!
Lesson and Action: Look at your relationship with your boss and ask yourself if you fall for any of these career suicide traps. If you have done anything in the past, don’t worry. Just focus on re-building trust with your boss going forward.
#5: You get defensive when you get constructive feedback.
The natural reaction to constructive criticism is defense, defending your work and yourself. And it’s a certain career advancement killer. It doesn’t matter if your boss dismisses your entire presentation, remember to separate yourself from your work and take criticism with a gratitude and with curiosity.
Never ever get defensive. Get curious to learn.
Lesson and Action: When was the last time you got some constructive feedback from your boss and how did you react? What would you do differently with the next feedback? In fact, as a bonus, go ahead and request his feedback on a recent project and listen to learn.
#6: You do not have a solid strong relationship with your boss.
Your boss is your primary gatekeeper to you getting noticed and getting ahead. Everything lives and dies with him. If you don’t like your boss, you need to start liking him fast or else get yourself a new boss. This is as simple as it gets when it comes to bosses and employees.
Sometimes we get an angel for a boss, sometimes a complete jerk, but they are still your bosses. If you don’t have a great relationship with your boss, it’s a career stopper like nothing else.
Lesson and Action: What is your relationship with your boss? Is it a good one? Is it non-existent? How do you get along with your primary gatekeeper? And what can you do differently tomorrow to make it better and stronger?
#7: You expect your work to speak for itself. It doesn’t! You do!
If you think your work speaks for itself, I hate to tell you the truth. You, my dear, speak for your work and your skills and talents and if you don’t, nobody will. You need to not only speak for what you have done but also how much value it is bringing to the company.
Connecting the dots between your work and the company’s strategy is a skill you need to learn fast or else you become irrelevant in your management’s eyes.
Lesson and Action: Schedule a one-on-one conversation with your boss to talk about your recent accomplishments and describe to him how they impact the team, the organization and the company. Use your best guess estimate, and deliver the message with confidence. If you are having trouble with this dialogue, learn the step-by-step ways to do it.
#8: You complain, gossip or have a bad attitude. Even if on occasion.
The number one career suicide mistake is an attitude of complaining, gossips and a sense of entitlement. If you do any of these even on occasion, you are sabotaging all your hard work. Don’t kid around with your career here. Cut this out immediately and start doing damage control today.
Lesson and Action: Put yourself on a no-complaint no-gossip contract for a week, then extent it to 2 weeks and then go a month. Don’t make any exceptions to this. Not only will your career improve, your life will take on a new meaning too.
So there you have it. There is a lot more depth we could get into on this topic but consider this your quick guide to mastering your career.
See, the corporate system is set up in a smart and logical way and the more you understand how the system works, the less frustrated you get, and the more effectively you can align your actions to results.