7 Toxic Attitudes That Can Harm Your Career

It may be time to adjust your work mindset.

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There are certain attitudes that you will not find among successful employees. These attitudes resemble illnesses and if left unchecked, can destroy careers. Here are some of the most common:

1. “If they promote me, I’ll show them how capable I am.” This person has the process exactly reversed. Capability needs to be demonstrated in order to secure the promotion. This means doing far more than the basics of the job. It requires extraordinary performance and loads of initiative.

[See 15 Ways Good Bosses Keep Their Best Employees.]

2. “I won’t turn down any requests because I want to have a reputation as a can-do person.” This is more controversial. I know of some consultants who recommend this approach. Unfortunately, there are some projects that will consume too much time and will seriously inhibit the successful performance of other, more important projects. A person who overpromises and then underperforms is unlikely to succeed. The successful person knows his or her limitations and carefully explains the choice of priorities. You succeed both by the projects you take on and the ones you avoid.

3. “I’m going to stick with this until I make it a success.” Persistence is admirable, but it can become foolish. The persistent person needs to learn when to drop projects that have become a drain of resources and time.

[See How to Ruin Your Work Reputation Slowly.]

4. “I’m a turn-around artist.” That may be the case and there's no doubt that such skills can be sorely needed. Turn-around artists should recognize, however, that they have short shelf lives. Eventually, management will want to put this wizard into another hot spot. If the turn-around artist wants to stay put, new skills will have to be acquired and new expectations negotiated.

5. “I don’t need people skills. I’m in a technical position.” If the lack of people skills is not noticeable, the techie may be safe. If it becomes an issue, a very harsh lesson may be coming.

6. “I’m a perfectionist.” That's all well and good, but the perfectionist had better be able to meet deadlines. As Ronald Reagan quipped about his B-movie career, “They didn’t want it good. They wanted it Thursday.”

[Find more job advice at U.S. News Careers.]

7. “I don’t have time to schmooze.” Finding some would be wise. Isolation from others keeps out important information and reduces influence. It can be amazing how much can be accomplished today because time was taken for a cup of coffee with another manager six months ago.

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.

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