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6 Career Killers You Never Knew About

Want to get ahead at work? Heed this advice on what to avoid in the workplace to maximize your professional potential.

Mistaking Volume for Effectiveness

Just because you’re doing a lot of work doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing your best work. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your workload — or you feel like you’re not putting out quality material because you have too much on your plate — tap into a professional organization platform to help sort things out.

“The most effective communication is focused, consistent, trustworthy and accessible,”says Gretchen Pisano, co-founder and CEO of pLink Coaching Center. “Internal communication platforms, like Slack, transform office communication, eliminate email from the process and dramatically reduce unproductive status meetings that are designed to keep everyone in the loop,”

Clustering in Cliques

Joining a clique at work can provide a sense of belonging and security. However, workplace cliques can be career killers when you become branded for your peers and not for yourself. This is particularly dangerous for your career when your clique has fallen out of favor, or is not being targeted for positions of leadership.

“Instead, cross-pollinate and expand your work networks to be broader, rather than deeper,” advises Becki Saltzman, author of Living Curiously: how to Use Curiosity to Be Remarkable and Do Good Stuff. “Knowing more people and having more people know you will provide more opportunities to step into unforeseen leadership positions. This can also help you navigate group layoffs.”

Failing to Keep Up With Technology

There’s an entire generation of employees who are being phased out of their jobs because they’re behind the curve on technology. The harsh reality is that we live in a tech-driven world, and if you can’t keep up with the times, you’ll be replaced.

“If your workplace implements new systems and you do not embrace the new direction and soak up the training, you risk putting yourself out of a job,” warns Justine Miller, an HR consultant with The Stir Group, a business-consulting firm in Philadelphia. “People remain in the workplace for a lot longer now, so older employees need to be as enthusiastic about new technologies as their Millennial colleagues.”

Trying to Be Too Interesting

When you’re new to an organization, or feel marginalized at work, making an effort to have your co-workers, customers, and superiors get to know you better seems like a good thing. However, the danger is in the perceived effort. Trying too hard to be seen, heard, and interesting can backfire and make you appear self-centered and desperate. Instead, focus on being interested in others. By doing that, they’ll become more curious about you.

“Look for sincere and specific reasons to like people,” Saltzman suggests. “Ask curious questions like, ‘What would surprise people most about your job?’ and ‘If you could implement one new policy at work, what would it be?’ Or perhaps interview a co-worker about an unusual work-related project that you both find intriguing.”

Being a Nobody in the Boss’ Eyes

Trying to be too interesting can hurt your career, but so can being a wallflower, especially if it means the boss never notices you. It’s important to stand out, but even more important to provide value to the company.

“One of the biggest killers people make in their careers in today’s layoff-prone world is not becoming truly indispensable,” says career expert Barry Maher. “Find a task that your boss hates to do and offer to take it over. If losing you means the boss will have to go back to doing something he hates, then he will fight for you as if you were the company’s most valuable employee.”

Maher also says another smart strategy is simply to write the boss a very short note at the end of each week that explains what you did during the week.”Not only will the boss be reminded of just how valuable you are, but many bosses will save those notes and use them to write your review from them.”

Letting Your True Colors Come Through A Little Too Much

You shouldn’t act like a completely different person at work than you do in your personal life, but you also shouldn’t fly off the handle like a raving lunatic every time something goes wrong if that’s something you’re apt to do when nobody “important” is watching.

“Triggers and biases can activate our personal behavior bombs that might cause you to erupt when confronted by others’ selfish behavior, false accusations, a lack of recognition, or exclusion from decision-making,” Saltzman explains. “So be aware of those triggers before they activate and destroy your career. Create a ‘trigger tool’ that will help you elevate curiosity ahead of criticism, judgment, fear, and complacency. Doing so will allow you to assess your triggers before reacting, thereby reducing their power over you.”

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