Your job is a huge part of your life.
If you work a typical 40-hour work week, that’s around 2000 hours a year spent on the job. You spend more waking time working than you do with your spouse, partner, children, or friends.
Hopefully, your job is more than a job. Hopefully, it is your profession, your calling, your passion. But even if your current job is just your career for now, you don’t want to unknowingly sabotage it and undermine your opportunities for success.
According to Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at Claremont McKenna College, in an article for Psychology Today, here are five behaviors that could derail you on your career path:
1. Poor Interpersonal Style. Although technical competence and successes may initially pay off, as one moves up in an organization or profession, interpersonal skills become more important. In our study of firefighters, technical competence was the key to getting promoted to captain, but lack of social skills prevented captains from going higher in the chain of command.
Having an abrasive or arrogant style, being insensitive to those around you, or coming off cold and aloof can lead to derailment of managers and supervisors.
2. Over-Controlling and Inability to Delegate. In today’s team-centered work world, it is critical to be able to work successfully with others to get the job done. Managers who try to do it all themselves, who micromanage, or who are unable to build a team, are likely doomed to failure.
3. Inability to Adapt. Change is the only constant in organizations. Workers who fail to adapt will become obsolete and fail. In one engineering department, the manager was unable to master, or even understand, the new design technology. Due to his own insecurity, he refused to let the new technology be used in his department. The result: they fell further and further behind on projects and produced inferior results.
4. Lack of Transparency. Dealing openly and honestly with those you work with is the key to success. Even if you are justified and fair in the decisions that you make, you need to let people know why and how important decisions (such as promotions) are made.
It goes without saying that unethical behavior is a key de-railer for anyone’s work career, so the best way to avoid temptation is to be transparent in the decisions you make and strive to be virtuous in your behavior.
5. Inability to Think Strategically. All too often, we get bogged down in the day-to-day work that is in front of us, and focus too much on short-term goals. However, career success requires constantly looking at the big picture, and thinking strategically about where we are headed. Strategic thinking helps us anticipate problems, recognize new opportunities, and build a track record of accomplishments.
If you see yourself in any of the behaviors listed above, it’s not too late to get back on track and start honing your emotional intelligence and management skills. In fact, you can assess your level of emotional intelligence by taking a free assessment here. And you can test your management skills with this assessment.