You have decided you are going to make your mark and you will have a stellar career. That’s great, but let’s hope you avoid making these career mistakes which could shatter your dream in the long term. In order to make it to the top, here are 10 mistakes you should never make.
1. You limit your networking to inside the company.
Some employees cannot be bothered to start networking outside their company. They may be pretty friendly and helpful inside the company, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just think what would happen if you were not in the loop when a new acquisition was proposed. You are the production manager and because you neglected networking, you were just not on the ball. You failed to exploit your contacts outside the company to gain valuable feedback, support and knowledge of market trends and innovation. That is the value of networking, yet many managers underestimate its importance. A lot of this needs to be done offline because it is the real social contact and human interaction that counts. It will give you a chance to seize an opportunity because you have your ear to the ground.
Larry Page failed to spot the opportunity of developing a Google social network in time. When they did eventually launch Google Buzz (later Google +), they failed to take off because of Facebook’s dominance.
“I clearly knew that I had to do something and I failed to do it.” —Larry Page.
2. You place too much importance on salary and benefits.
How does a temporary salary cut appeal to you? If you are considering a move, think of the experience rather than the money. In the long term, this will pay handsome dividends as the new job will be a challenge for you to achieve new goals. Aim to widen your skills set, broaden your responsibilities and manage teams. Think of the job satisfaction that it will give you and also how impressive it will be on your resume. Nobody will notice your salary increases.
3. You are afraid of failure.
If you are afraid of failure, it is doubtful whether you will be able to learn from mistakes. The successful manager has to factor failure in for every project. One good piece of advice is to look at a project before it becomes operational and ask your team to list what could go wrong. This is a great way of identifying possible problems and obstacles and it can help you make adjustments if necessary.
When failure does happen, you have to be ready to react without playing the blame game. Wise tactics include listening, getting feedback and analysing what went wrong. There is some excellent advice along these lines in the book, Managing Yourself: Can You Handle Failure? by Ben Dattner and Robert Hogan.
Success will not teach you; failure will. This is the bitter lesson that Bill Gates learned when he failed to develop a Microsoft search engine. When he did develop Bing, it was already too late. It had little success and it cost Microsoft more than $2.5 million than it earned in 2011.
“Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” —Bill Gates
4. You buy property.
Maybe you have always wanted to buy a house in your favorite area, near your workplace. The problem about doing this early on in your career is that you are tied in many ways to one location. You are less mobile which may be a factor against you when you want to move up the ladder. Of course, you can always rent it but there are extra hassles which you could do well without. Many companies will be reluctant to pay expensive moving costs.
5. You avoid challenges.
Taking the easy way out is a short term policy which will not stand you in good stead. It is when you encounter difficulties that you begin to understand how you react to stress. You also realize what your strengths and weaknesses are and you can avoid any situations which are totally negative and sap your energy. Aim for challenges where you feel that you can grow and use your skills and passions to greater effect. It is only when meeting difficulties along the way that you can understand that.
“My biggest motivation? Just to keep challenging myself. I see life almost like one long University education that I never had – everyday I’m learning something new.” —Richard Branson
6. You ignore customer feedback.
Some successful businessmen have made very foolish decisions about launching a product or service, simply because they did not take customers’ needs or wishes into consideration. A example not to follow is that of Hiten Shah (founder of KISSMetrics) who spent $1m on developing a hosting company that never even launched. They realized too late that customer delight must be top priority. A similar example is that of Robin Chase co-founder of Zipcar.
“We built the website first and asked our customers about it later.” —Robin Chase
7. You are too self-absorbed.
Basically you do not help coworkers or colleagues as you are too focused on your own success. This is a big mistake as research shows that when you help your peers, you are building a broad base of support which will pay off handsomely down the road. Research done by James Citrin and Richard Smith shows that the most successful entrepreneurs were four times more likely to help their peers than those who had not made it to the top. This is mentioned in their book The 5 Patterns of Extraordinary Careers: The Guide for Achieving Success and Satisfaction.
8. You avoid hard work.
“The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand.” —Vince Lombardi
Almost all successful entrepreneurs are convinced that the real secret to their success was hard work, self-discipline and self-confidence.
9. You are afraid to make a job change.
You may feel that your present working environment is far too restrictive and that you are not able to develop your leadership skills sufficiently. There may be other restrictions such as a lack of training to widen your skills set. Examine carefully how a job change could put you on the next step of the ladder. If you wallow in self-pity and boredom you will never have the courage to make a job change which could help your career to take off.
10. You undervalue emotional intelligence.
Nowadays, successful leaders have learned that emotional intelligence is really crucial in managing a team and also leading a company forward to success. Some studies are suggesting that a person’s success may depend only 25% on qualifications and intelligence while the remainder is made up of people skills and empathy, which make up the core of emotional intelligence.
If you cannot relate to the thoughts, experience and feelings of your peers or your team members, then you will be unable to manage them successfully. Whether you are a team member or you are in a managerial role, emotional intelligence should be high on your list of skills to acquire.
Let us know in the comments what mistakes you made in your career and what were the lessons you learned.