Five career killers to avoid

Expert outlines workplace errors

Like other types of workers, IT professionals can be vulnerable to committing career sabotage — sometimes without even recognising it.

Computerworld US spoke with John M McKee, the author of Career Wisdom: 101 Proven Strategies to Ensure Workplace Success. Here are five potential career-killers, with McKee's advice about how to recognise and avoid them.

1. Failing to deliver results "Winners in business know that it's all about accountability. Those who harbour a sense of entitlement for simply having put forth effort, irrespective of the results of those efforts, are guaranteed to fall by the wayside. It's very easy in a corporation to believe that becoming more efficient will translate into becoming more effective. So becoming preoccupied with creating greater efficiency may be a short-term solution to helping the bottom line, but it doesn't help the organisation to grow. I rarely see people get the big bonuses in the organisation simply because they understand the policies and procedures of the company. It has to do with delivering the goods. You have to know your customers, know what your marketplace wants. Great leadership is all about asking questions."

2. Confusing efficiency with effectiveness An example of this is using email because, ont the face of it, it's more efficient than arranging face-to-face meetings, McKee says. "Those who think that communicating via email replaces the need to actually talk with people around them fail to recognise the importance of personally connecting with others in today's highly automated and technological environment. Communicating in person whenever possible is imperative for success-seekers."

3. Believing that you are irreplaceable "There is no room for divas in the workplace. As soon as you convince yourself that you and only you can do the job 'right,' your star will surely start to fall. In any organisation, any person can have a good couple of ideas, a good couple of years and a few successes under their belts and they start to think that the company can't do without them. They start to sit on their laurels and find themselves in greater jeopardy of losing their jobs. Comparing notes with others in the organisation helps keep people grounded. It helps anyone in the organisation to have different trusted advisers' perspectives on what's going on and how their performance is being viewed."

4. Surrounding yourself with "brown-nosers" "Losers like having people tell them how smart they are, whether or not it's true, while successful managers and other professionals accept and encourage intelligence and creativity in others. If you're constantly being told by your peers that everything you're doing is wonderful, you need a better group of advisers."

5. Losing perspective "Intuitive businesspeople recognise that, despite their best attempts to do everything right, sometimes they approach roadblocks. Those who fail to recognise their shortcomings are destined for the unemployment line. It has everything to do with forgetting the reasons why their business exists, why they're in this business, and what it is they intended to accomplish when they entered this industry. You need to be excited about what it is you're doing, and you need to put more enthusiasm into what it is you're doing. If you're not looking forward to getting out of bed in the morning, you're working on a downward trend — you just don't know it yet."

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