By Eryka T. Johnson
Do you feel stuck in your current role? Have you been in it more than three years? It’s easy to believe you are doing all the right things and making all the right career decisions particularly if your manager says nothing. On the other hand, the silence could mean something totally different. The reality is you are responsible for your own career. Although you have leaders, you are the key stakeholder when it comes to managing your career. You want to display the right behaviors and make the right decisions that will advance your career rather than stall it. In today’s article, let’s discuss three career mistakes you make keeping you stuck in your current role.
The other day I read an article in Forbes highlighting the worst mistake you can make when it comes to your career. That mistake is placing all your faith in an employer, function, or industry. Ouch! When I think about my personal situation, I wonder if this statement is valid. I’ve been with my employer now for nearly 15 years and have held at least seven job functions excluding adhoc assignments to address high profile projects that needed to be completed with a quick turnaround.
Honestly, my first four years was spent in the same assignment were I failed miserably and no one said anything – neither my manager nor his manager. I was doing what I thought were the right things and ultimately digging a deeper hole for myself. It was not until I faced the hard truth that I was the captain of my career destiny. I needed to make decisions that would position me for better roles with increasing influence.
What I struggled to realize was ALL the wrong moves I was making by complaining to my peers, failing to build a network, and refusing to grow fully in my job. These are all things that will hold you back and keep you struck in your current role. In other words, it is career suicide.
Here are three career mistakes. If you are making them now, you need to immediately stop and do the exact opposite.
Career Mistake # 1 – Working so hard that you never leave your desk to connect with others.
In a previous article, we talked about the power of networking. You must build relationships that make your day-to-day job function easier. These can be both within your company and outside your company. Go to lunch, meet up for coffee, host a small sip and paint event and enjoy getting to know others.
Here’s the truth…hard work only produces “more” work. You will be busy accomplishing your job tasks but no one will be aware of what you want in a career or even know how they can help you when they hear of an opportunity the perfect fit for you.
Don’t get me wrong, leaders start off by being exceptional at their jobs but often move into leadership because they began understanding the “rules to the game.” Corporate is full of un-written rules, unspoken expectations, and good-ole politics. If you choose to remain oblivious to them, you will maintain your current role but never grow it into a career.
If you think talking with your peers is considered goofing off, you need to re-think that. More deals are made on the golf course rather than in the board room. Perhaps, the break room may be a perfect place for you to start connecting with others.
Career Mistake #2 – Failure to grow in your current role
Often times, you are placed in job roles to grow your skills and use your existing skill set to help you navigate along the path. Some job roles come with increasingly difficult situations but for a reason. The most difficult circumstances often lead to the greatest personal growth. Ask yourself “I’m I still growing?”
Stop fighting the process. If you don’t know something, it is ok. You can always learn it. I had a manager who would always say “It’s not rocket science people.” Often times, he would say it in the most inopportune times and his tone would always be sarcastic. But the reality is that his statement holds a lot of truth. If your mental facilities have not failed (which I’m sure they have not considering you are reading this article), you have the ability to learn. And if the ability is there the only thing that is lacking is your willingness.
How committed are you to succeeding in your career, getting your next promotion, and creating new opportunities for yourself? Show your commitment by fully embracing your current role. Ask questions. Get advice from your mentor. But, don’t be ashamed to learn. No one person knows everything there is to know about a job function. You are certainly NO exception.
Career Mistake #3 – Bickering and complaining
No one likes to be in the presence of someone who is constantly complaining and pointing out all the things that are wrong. This is negativity in its rare form. A few years ago I did a webinar entitled Stop Spinning Your Wheels and it addressed the issue of negativity.
This type of energy is toxic and rather harmful to the success of your career. Often times, these individuals are known by everyone in the office. And believe it or not, management knows who you are as well. They make mental notes to not include you on fresh, new opportunities or even solicit your ideas when a problem arises that requires a group to strategize on next steps.
Your complaining only hurts YOU. I’m sure you don’t want to be mis-labeled in the workplace which will follow you for your entire career. Resist the urge to murmur and complain. However, if you must do it, please speak only to your trusted mentor who is there to guide you and give you sound advice. And of course, all discussions with your mentor should be confidential.
This way you ensure that you are not sending or giving the wrong message. Everything you do and say has a meaning in case you didn’t know.
It’s time to get unstruck in your current role. Evaluate if you have been making any of these career mistakes and do the exact opposite as mentioned earlier. You must first be aware of your behaviors before you can alter them. Start with these three.
Can you think of other career mistakes to avoid? I would love to hear them.
Eryka T. Johnson