Career Landmines: Missteps That Sabatage Your Work Life Success

(This post is based on advice shared with LadyLux for the article "9 Silly Mistakes to Avoid at Work". While the article is geared towards women, I've seen both sexes make these missteps--- so guys--- listen up too!)

1. Shying Away From Challenging Projects

Often your chance to shine at work is tied to high profile projects. Because of the attention a project like this receives, many people shy away from taking it on. They may doubt their ability to lead the project or whether they have all of the skills needed. This is fear influencing your career; you can do it- or you wouldn't be asked to lead. The more you push yourself past your limits, the more you risk and the greater the reward- both personally and professionally.

Often when you pass on a high profile project, the opportunities for challenge and growth come further apart until you are no longer considered. This jeopardizes your long-term potential for challenging work and promotional opportunities.

When a project comes up, just say "YES!". Look at it as an opportunity to grow. If you don't have all the skills you need, make sure you rally a great team to work on the project with you. Focus on attracting people who have successfully demonstrated those skill sets you feel weaker in to ensure a win.

2. Not Applying For Internal Positions- Even Though You (Secretly) Want to Grow Your Career

Typically companies post job openings to their current employees. Internal promotions allow employees an opportunity to grow their skill set, which is one of the most important  indicators of an employee's level of engagement- even more so then their relationship with their manager ("...development opportunities and leadership have 3-4X greater impact on retention than your relationship with your immediate manager".) It's a win-win for everyone- and saves the company time and money!

Frequently people share with me that they were interested in a promotion but passed on the chance to apply. WHAT?!!!  They figure someone has already been preselected for the job or because the hiring manager or HR didn't personally invite them to apply, they don't want to consider him or her so it is not worth the time and effort.

If you don't apply, how will anyone know you are interested- for this opportunity- or what's to come? They won't. While HR seems all knowing sometimes, they are not mind readers. Don't wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. Put yourself out there!

3. Interpersonal Conflicts: Play Nice or Pay a Price

Most work environments are professional and employees get a long well, operating as a T-E-A-M. But, on occasion, inner-personal conflicts get in the way of teamwork and the group suffers (not to mention productivity tanks).

For example, a manager who plays favorites. While he/she may inspire above and beyond performance from those in their inner circle, everyone who is made to feel like an outsider is resentful and disengaged. This also invites friction between the groups. With lack luster results from the team as a whole the manager is sure to get overlooked for promotional opportunities. (I've seen this happen and it's not pretty).

Leaders need to act like good parents- treat everyone fairly and draw out each person's uniqueness and talents to thrive as family, er department.

On the other end of the spectrum is someone who holds a grudge. This type of employee refuses to work with a person he/she has had a bad run in with, bad mouths them and typically creates a negative environment for anyone who has to get in between the two. It's imperative to be professional and work well with everyone.

If you have a falling out, do what you need to do to get beyond it. The way you handle the situation reflects on your character and can impact your career.

These are just a few ways I've seen people sideline their careers. What can you do to avoid the landmines? By advocating for yourself, knowing your talents and being a constant professional your career will naturally flourish.

What do you think? 

Did you make a misstep in your career? What did you do to turn it around?

Love to hear from you! i welcome your comments (and questions!).

Posted on November 10, 2014 and filed under Leadership, Promotions, Playing Nice at Work.