We all have a few work habits we’re not proud of. Who hasn’t devised a sneaky way to avoid boring meetings? Or told someone you’ll “get right back to them” then calling when you’re sure you can leave voice mail?
Some behaviors we create to cope with hard or unpleasant situations or simply to make our own job easier.
But others are born out of insecurities or fears. They’re not habits per se, but more like adaptive behaviors we’ve come to think as normal.
And they can be a threat to our future career success.
Consider if you use these 5 self-destructive habits and start making efforts to avoid them:
- Relying too much on technology
When was the last time you had an in-person conversation with your boss or an employee to solve a problem? Or when you were talking with someone and one of you picked up a phone to check a text message?
Technology allows us to communicate more efficiently, but it can leave out a lot of context. And using email or phone can make us easily distracted—which could cause us to miss important information or instructions.
How it hurts your career: In a face-to-face discussion with your boss, you might have a lot of innovative ideas. But the impersonal ease of email can limit in-depth conversations about those ideas. Thus, you miss out on the chance to explain other ideas that could get you noticed for being a creative thinker.
- Letting toxic people call the shots
Perhaps you’ve developed a close working and personal relationship with a co-worker. She gave you helpful advice when you first started, but as time has passed, she’s begun to co-opt your career moves—talking you out of seeking a raise, or steering you to roles that are a bad fit.
Toxic people tend to make their mark in our lives and manage to stay there. Unfortunately, if one of these people has served as a sort-of mentor, it’ll be that much harder to side-step her ill-advised suggestions.
Could it be time to find another mentor? Use this checklist to find out.
How it hurts your career: By letting this person influence you, you’re hindering your success. Listening to their counsel is fine, but if they’re trying to micromanage decisions on what’s best for your career, you’re relying on them to a fault. Hear them out, but also consider other voices who may have more objective views or ideas.
- Getting mired in workplace politics
Gossip is everywhere—even if we try we can’t avoid it. And it is a way to keep on top of what’s going on in a company. But when we let workplace politics forge our path to getting ahead, it can crush opportunity rather than create it.
How it hurts your career: When you’re aiming for a promotion, or a move to a different department, getting to know the right people is important. But be careful not to let office politics make decisions for you.
Focus your efforts to get ahead on your abilities and goals, not on office drama. Rumors that one manager only promotes friends or that another is a horror to work for can prevent you from sensible moves.
- Dwelling on past failures
You heard there was a great lateral move opportunity and you’re tempted to submit a proposal that could win you the job. But you’ve tried before—twice—and your efforts were close, but no cigar.
How it hurts your career: Holding past failures too close to the vest can make us shy about taking advantage of new opportunities. Try to analyze objectively what you might have done wrong that first time, or consider that what you failed at in the past probably wasn’t a smart fit for you.
Chalk up times where you fell short as learning experiences or as ways you were able to expose yourself to possible career avenues.
Could failure be a positive aspect of success? One woman at the top says yes
- Comparing yourself to others
Even the most successful women sometimes can’t resist comparing how we’re doing with others. It’s especially hard when we second guess our career choices because someone else’s seem to be working better than ours.
How it hurts your career: If your desire to get ahead is based on a need to keep pace with others, you could find yourself making career decisions that will ultimately stunt your growth. Someone else’s dream job might bring with it headaches and pressures you don’t want.
Remember that failure can be a matter of perspective, and moves made in haste mainly to impress others could set you back rather than propel you forward.