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How to Recognize and Revive a Stalled Career

Know the Score

Posted: February 18, 2008 5:04 p.m.
Updated: April 18, 2008 5:02 a.m.

You're smart, educated and ambitious but you are stalled out on your career ladder and you don't understand. Well, you might be making one or more mistakes that can bring your professional progress to a screeching halt.

Are you willing to take an honest inventory? After all, your career is your responsibility and only you can change its direction. It's more important now than ever to evaluate and assess your professional behavior.

Employees are no longer assured of lifetime employment because of the shifting scenario of employee-employer relations and seldom is there long-term employment with one employer.

With the shifting employment environment there is new emphasis on career management, which is up to the individual to manage effectively with minimal support from the employer. The following career mistakes are common errors that impede success. Check them out, and if you need to - correct what you can.

1. INTEGRITY - Thomas Jefferson said that "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom," and it's the cornerstone of career success. Integrity covers a variety of things including being reliable. You can be the hardest working employee in the company, but if people can't rely on your promises you won't be respected. If you commit to something, make sure it happens.

2. GIVE A FULL DAY'S WORK - Do you consider sick days to be extra vacation days? Do you slack off or come in late when the boss is away? If so, you're not gaining anything but damaged credibility. It's not worth it!

3. AVOID THE RUMOR MILL - People with integrity and strong self-esteem don't feel compelled to run other people down or engage in mindless speculation. The old saying, "those who gossip with you will gossip about you" is true. Once you lose your integrity, it's very hard to get it back.

4. BECOMING COMPLACENT - Complacent employees go through the motions at work, but they don't have passion. Their motive is to collect a paycheck not to make a true and lasting difference. Lacking to keep your skills honed can also be taken as complacency. If you're serious about moving ahead take as many professional courses as you can and keep your skills razor sharp. The more talent you bring to the table, the more invaluable you are to the company.

5. FAILING TO BOND WITH THE BOSS - Your boss plays a key role in your career success. You don't have to always agree with everything he/she says; but smart employees know their responsibility to support management. If you cannot do so, it might be in your best interest to find another job. Communication with your boss is critical to success so keep him/her informed - especially when things go wrong. Don't rely on thinking that they should know your job better than you do, and keep in mind that if communication breaks down you are at least 50 percent at fault. Talking about your boss behind his/her back also shows poor judgment. Remember that a boss's job isn't easy and so do your part to make it as smooth as possible.

6. DON'T BE "ME-FOCUSED" - An extremely talented woman is hired at a large corporation and in the beginning she seemed too good to be true, but soon her fatal flaw became apparent. She looked out for number one constantly, which became quite annoying to management and her peers. She didn't progress far in the company despite her many positive qualities. Don't consider promotions owed to you and worry if you're getting everything you deserve. It shows a lack of professional maturity.

7. DON'T BE NEGATIVE - Negativity is alive and well in corporate America. According to a 2005 Harris poll, many employees dislike their jobs and don't have good feelings about their employers. These statistics show there are a lot of unhappy people in the workplace, so it's inevitable that you'll come in contact negative co-workers. A bad attitude is really an outward reflection of what's in your heart, so changing negativity is an inside job. Don't be around negative people if you can avoid it, and always be upbeat yourself. Surrounding yourself with dynamic and energetic co-workers carries a double reward. You'll be viewed as a positive person who deserves quality friends, and their optimism will be contagious and inspire you to be your best.

If any of these career mistakes hit home with you, you can make a change and put your career on the right track. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that you'll earn the success you deserve. Here's to your success!

Commentary by Dr. Maureen Stephenson, a local author and owner of REMS Publishing & Publicity. Her column represents her own views, and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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