There are a number of factors that can inhibit our career growth, like overwhelm or a company culture that’s not a good match. Sometimes, however, we do or say things–or fail to do or say things–that can have a devastating effect on career progress.
Here are 5 tips to avoid career sabotage.
Know what you want. When I started my own company almost 30 years ago, I tried to consult on just about everything related to business. It was not until I did some serious introspection that I realized my real passion was diversity and inclusion; and my business started to thrive.
Understand your compatibility. Be aware of the unwritten norms that guide the company’s behavior. Can you thrive in the culture? I coach a young woman who was convinced that there was something wrong with her. She just did not seem to be able to find her stride at her company. They told her that she was too direct in her communication style. During one difficult session, we realized that the company’s traditional culture did not fit her style. She is now thriving with an organization that is more open to diverse leadership styles.
Constantly detoxify. Just like we have to keep our bodies healthy, we also have to keep our minds free of toxins. Stay above the fray. Don’t participate in office gossip. Be supportive of your colleagues by emphasizing their positive attributes. Stay focused on your goals. My daughter once worked for a small organization that seemed to thrive on office gossip. She got caught up in it, creating a very stressful experience for her. This took her focus away from achieving excellence in her work.
Recognize stereotype threats. A stereotype threat is the experience of anxiety or concern about a situation where a person has the potential to confirm a negative stereotype about their social group. Career women are subjected to many stereotype threats and we may not even be aware of how they impact our ability to show our best selves. We cannot control others’ stereotypes about us but we can begin to manage our own internalized, limiting self-stereotypes.
Cultivate collaborative relationships: Develop genuine, supportive, reciprocal relationships with peers and superiors both inside and outside your organization. Cast your net wide. I asked one of my colleagues how he managed to secure a very high profile mentor, a name most people would recognize. He told me that many years ago he met him in an elevator and just asked him—and the man said yes! Moral of the story: Find the courage to ask!
Founder, President and CEO, The Winters Group