Everyone has an opinion on how to get ahead in your career. But be careful – some of the advice you get may be dangerous, especially in the workplace. Some of the common advice that stubbornly persists in office environments is best taken with a grain of salt if you want to truly succeed. Following are five examples:
• Working more hours bolsters success. Well, not necessarily, especially if you’re working longer hours because you’re not using your time efficiently. A lack of organisation or failing to prioritise tasks could be the real reason you’re burning the midnight oil. If you find yourself working late or on weekends more often than not, you may need to consider replacing some of your time-wasting work habits with more productive ones.
• Always volunteer for additional assignments. Not if you already have a full plate and can’t handle additional work. Overextending yourself can lead to burnout, and not being able to deliver because you’re in over your head can hurt your credibility. The best time to take on an extra project is when, a) you can fit it into your existing workload; and, b) you have the required skills and knowledge to successfully complete it.
• Turning down a promotion is always unwise. Not if the only aspects of the new position you find appealing are an impressive title and more money. Before immediately accepting, consider whether your new responsibilities truly interest you, help you achieve career goals or improve your work-life balance.
• Don’t bother with the ‘little people.’ Focusing your efforts only on pleasing those who control your future is not a good game plan. Colleagues on all levels also play an integral role in your advancement. Without help from your peers, you’ll have difficulty meeting tight deadlines or gaining access to key contacts. Also remember that your co-workers’ opinions of your abilities and qualities are very likely to get back to management — both their positive and negative opinions. Impressing the higher-ups may be the ultimate goal, but success begins by fostering relationships with those around you.
• Don’t indulge in water cooler chit-chat. This would be a good rule to follow if you have no interest in connecting with your colleagues on a more personal level. As long as you don’t participate in malicious gossip, there’s nothing wrong with sparing a few minutes each day for some non-work related talk with co-workers. Doing so strengthens professional relationships and makes you seem accessible instead of stuffy and stand-offish.
Some procedural notions in the workplace shouldn’t be interpreted as hard and fast rules. Otherwise, they could end up thwarting your career momentum instead of boosting it.
Article by: Stella Tang, Director of Robert Half Singapore