Saturday, May 11, 2013

Career Makers, Career Breakers...Part 2

“For just one night let’s not be co-workers. Let’s be co-people.” – Ron Burgundy (from the movie Anchorman.)

Continuing the theme of Career Maker and Breakers, we start this week with:

Career Maker #3: Be a mentor and a talent developer.
The most common denominator I see in top performing, successful executives is a track record of developing people. Sure there are exceptions. Sometimes the Me-Me-Me self-absorbed executive rises to the top, using others as stepping stones and making no investment in anyone other than themselves. I could name names, but I won’t. You know who they are and they know who they are. But far and away, the best way to move through your career is by making other people better. Superstar Lone Rangers rarely succeed over the long run. You make your career better by helping other make theirs better.

Career Breaker #3: Crossing the line and getting “too involved” with co-workers.
Here’s the rule, when it comes to relationships with co-workers, don’t do anything you would not want published in the company newsletter, on facebook or in a petition for divorce. Again there are exceptions and we all know of “happily ever after” stories that resulted from “office romances”. Some may argue that if two people are single, it should not even be an issue. Some might even say that if people are unhappily married and they find their “soul-mate” at work; good for them. All I’m saying is that if you want to put your career on thin ice, sliding sideways…get involved with a co-worker. Thankfully, I avoided such slides during my career, but I must admit that I did feel my tires spinning a few times. The reality is that we’ve all seen more than a few up and coming stars derailed by office affairs. Why go there?

Career Maker #4: Do more than expected?
And the best way to do more than expected? Manage expectations. Another way of saying it is “Under-Commit and Over-Deliver.” The most successful managers and executives do a masterful job of setting expectations. It’s a balancing act of not setting the bar too low nor setting it too high. Smart executives avoid situations where they are trying to meet unrealistic expectations. In some cases, they will leave the organization rather than fail. Top performers meet or exceed their goals and objectives. They work hard and they work smart, no question. But, they also position themselves where there is a realistic opportunity to succeed.

Career Breaker #4: Do less than expected?
The corollary to CM4 is obvious. Want to derail your career? Fail to meet expectations. Sometimes it’s unavoidable and if you’re the person in charge you will likely end up paying the price. But, more often than not, I see people fail because they sign up for a mission that was doomed from the start. This goes back to last weeks CB2, “Not being strategic about your career”. Bosses, owners and investors should demand results that are difficult to achieve. Top performers should embrace the challenge. But don’t sign up for mission impossible. This is real life, not the movies. It may be cool to say “Go Big or Go Home”. But more often than not, those who try to go too big; end up going home.

Next week we’ll continue with more Makers and Breakers.

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