Well, there are many reasons, but here are a few that I have observed in my work with various organizations.
- They cling to old habits during transition. Many companies have been bought and sold several times in the last 10 years. Every time new management comes in they change things. Do you wail and moan that the old way was best, or do you get with the program and look for positive things about the new ways? To be a success in today’s ever-changing world, you must become very good at dealing with change. Are you?
- They fail to be a team player. It used to be that you could walk all over everybody to climb the career ladder, but that no longer exists in most companies. One of the things that employers are looking for is team player skills. The ability to work on a team effectively and to lead a team is very important today.
- They are difficult to work with. Interpersonal skills are becoming more and more critical in today’s workplace. Are you known as a “jerk?” The ability to get along with others is a critical one. Spend a little time each day getting to know your coworkers on a personal level. Ask about their family and interests. If you are a manager, make sure your management style is not one of command and control. If so, you are not getting the best out of your people and therefore not advancing your career.
- They don’t enjoy what they do. If you hate coming to work every day, it will show in everything you do. You will be rude and curt to coworkers, turn in sloppy work or procrastinate about what you have to do because you don’t want to do it. If you are really unhappy, look for another job that you will like.
- They don’t ask for frequent feedback. If the only time you hear about how well you are doing in your job is at your annual performance review, you’re in trouble. You must ask for frequent feedback on how you are performing. That way, you can make adjustments as needed. It doesn’t have to be extensive. Just ask, “If you could change one thing about the way I do my job, what would it be?” Then follow through and change.
- Not having any balance between your personal life and work. Ha! You thought that to get ahead, you had to work long hours your whole career. Yes, long hours are important in some industries, but if you keep it up for years you will become burned out and not do a good job.
- They don’t network. “I’m just here to do my job, and if I do it well, I will get ahead,” they say. Well, maybe. Many people have risen to the top in their careers because of contacts that they have made. People noticed them giving a speech for their association, for instance, and recommended them for better things. You never know who is going to offer you your next step on the ladder. Be visible and make friends.
- Not continually trying to improve your skills. I see them in my training classes—the participants who were “sent there.” They sit with their arms crossed and the look on their faces say, “I know everything, so this is a waste of my time.” They are very mistaken. First, they were usually sent to a class because their boss wants them to change but doesn’t have the guts to tell them. Second, our world is changing so fast that you constantly need to be updating your skills.
So, how would you grade yourself? If you are guilty of any of these, make plans to change now.