When it comes to climbing the career ladder , how can we ensure that we’re always putting our best foot forward? Whether it’s brushing up on our interpersonal skills, communication skills or becoming a better leader or team player, there are certain behaviours that could be preventing us from reaching our goals.
We asked career coach and Managing Director of Personal Career Management Corinne Mills for her advice for identifying and rectifying 8 key traits that are doing our job prospects more harm than good. From not being afraid to toot our own horns to whinge-free conflict resolution, there’s no reason for why we all shouldn’t be able to storm our next appraisals with this career advice to hand.
1. You're too modest
It might feel counterintuitive, but with so many people vying for that lucrative spot on top of the career ladder, there's no shame in being your own biggest cheerleader. "When you’re at work, you need to be owning your achievements and telling people what a good job you’ve done - not just raising the problems," says Corinne. "It’s about managing your own PR, so don’t be afraid to sing your own praises."
2. You're taking things too personally
This is perhaps the hardest of office stumbling blocks to overcome considering how long we spend at work these days, but Corinne provides a refreshing perspective: "At work, difficult decisions are being made all the time. There’ll be some you like and some you don’t like, but the bottom line is what’s best for business.
"If you don’t get your own way, it doesn’t mean that your company doesn’t value or like you. De-personalise it, it’s a business decision."
3. You're over-worrying about being liked
This can get in the way of separating professional and personal lives. "At work, there are all kinds of conflict situations with people competing for time, attention and resources," says Corinne. "If someone says no to you or they have a different point of view to you, don’t worry that it’s about you not being liked. Sometimes you have to challenge people because that’s what the business needs and it’s the right thing to do. Focus on what’s right for the company, the team and the organisation more than being liked."
This applies to everyone in the office hierarchy. If you're a boss, Corinne provides some advice for dealing with the potential awkwardness:
"If you are in a role where you have to manage other people, you have to accept that you are not going to be liked by all of your staff all of the time. The most you can hope for is that you’re respected and seen as fair. Your principal aim is not to be liked by everyone. It is to do the job well and to have professional and constructive relationships."
4. You're whinging...
Nobody wants to be known as the office moaner. "If you are constantly complaining about your boss, your team or your office, people will start to get really fed up with you," cautions Corinne. "Keep it to a minimum and adopt a more positive outlook. If you do want to whinge, do so outside of the office where you can let of steam in the pub with friends or with your partner, just don’t be known as a whinger at work."
5. You're underselling yourself
You're more capable that you're probably giving yourself credit for. "Ask for a pay rise and get what you deserve," advises Corinne. "You don’t get if you don’t ask and so ask for things at work you think you deserve. You will need to be prepared to justify why you deserve it, but don’t be a meek wallflower and think you’ll just simply get everything you want. In life, you have to stand up and ask for things."
6. You're putting up with people being unpleasant to you
Is office bullying undermining your confidence? Don't be afraid to do something about it. "If people at work are being horrible to you, don’t just put up with it - ask them what the problem is," says Corinne. If the prospect of confrontation causes you to break into a sweat though, (as it does for most people!), adopt a joint problem solving strategy. "Say something along the lines of, 'It seems that our relationship is not as helpful or constructive as I’d hoped," recommends Corinne. "'Is there is something I’m not aware of that is getting in the way?' Nobody has the right to be downright horrid to you, whether that be your boss, peers or customers."
7. You're afraid to change jobs
It'll be worth it in the long-term. "If your job is making you miserable, you’ve done everything to improve it but you’re still going home stressed and unhappy, dust off your CV and get another job," says Corinne. Your current workplace may not be giving you the respect you deserve, but somewhere else will.
8. You're working through lunch
Ensuring that you schedule your lunch break as a non-negotiable in your working day is one way to ensure you're firing on all cylinders. Breaks throughout the day can also act as a useful way to get your face away from your screen and in front of some important faces too. "Get up from your desk and get a coffee with someone for a spot of networking," advises Corinne "Or just for a breath of fresh air to give you a dose of renewed energy and a new perspective for tackling the challenges that the afternoon will bring." There's never been a better excuse to stretch your legs.