Five ways we might self-sabotage our career and how best to avoid them.
Never have employees been as empowered as they are today. Career opportunities are there in abundance thanks to the global skills shortage, and if you are in any doubt about this then recent research in the US should put those doubts to rest.
A survey of 800 US employees recently showed that 63 percent of respondents had received a promotion within the previous 24 months and research among 300 HR professionals revealed that almost 50% of companies were investing more in upskilling their workforce.
And yet it seems we might still be limiting our career prospects in various ways, perhaps without even realising it, and some of these are entirely down to the pandemic.
1. Is the grass greener on the other side?
You might be thinking it’s too risky to make a career move right now. Interests rates are high, the cost of living even higher. Surely there’s more security in the job, the boss and the company you know. Better the devil right? What if the new job doesn’t work out? You’ve got rent commitments, or a mortgage and/or a family who depend on you.
On the flip side, what if a career move is the start of something amazing? What if it really does work out? Life comes with absolutely no guarantees and with every decision we make there is always an element of risk. Typically we are the ones holdings ourselves back. The grass is sometimes and quite often greener. We just need to hop over that fence.
2. Working from home
It might indeed be true that you ‘get more work done at home,’ but according to experts, you might be playing career roulette if you are working from home more than two days a week. This is simply because you are not being seen sufficiently and out of sight can sometimes mean out of mind.
Opportunities to shine in those all important water-cooler encounters or impromptu team catch-ups are lost when you are not physically present. Also lost are those invaluable relationship-building moments, the happenstances that help develop trust amongst your colleagues and the myriad social interactions, often unconscious, that all contribute to your overall performance.
If you are new to a role, or indeed new to the workplace, the irreplaceable in-office experience of learning simply by osmosis cannot be underestimated. In-person engagement and cultural interaction are also essential to increasing career success.
3. I’m not ready
Maybe you just need a little more time in the job you are in, or perhaps some additional training or mentoring. Perhaps these are things you are telling yourself when in fact your line manager is championing you and encouraging you to go for a promotion.
We are hardly ever truly ready for the next career step, the question is are we ready enough and do we believe in our own abilities strongly enough to take that leap of faith?
What is unique about today’s workplace is that employers are very aware of the need to upskill their staff and managers know that they must be supportive and patient. Similarly, they need employees to believe in themselves and to demonstrate resilience and stamina.
4. Quiet quitting
There has been much talk of quiet quitting in recent times, the conscious act of doing the bare minimum required of you in a job and putting in no more effort, time or enthusiasm than absolutely necessary.
Being that such a worker is still in their role and continuing to be paid a wage, this term is something of a misnomer, but do you recognise these traits in yourself? Are you in fact a quiet quitter and why? Is it because you are overworked and feel under-appreciated or is just bloody mindedness because you don’t feel like going the extra mile?
If you are deliberately holding back because you feel unappreciated then be careful that you don’t end up really being unappreciated.
5. Setting boundaries
Something to come out of the pandemic was that we have become more adept at saying no and this has led to an improvement in organisational culture and our working environments. But boundaries should not be set in stone and require readjustment according to shifts in the wider scheme of things.
Check that your no-noes are not holding you back from learning opportunities or that they are leading to career stagnation. Be careful too that they are not causing limiting team collaboration and potentially blocking the yeses coming from peers or your manager.
As a general rule, we have no idea when we are career self-sabotaging. In our heads we are protecting ourselves with ‘sound advice,’ when actually our inner voice is crushing our self-confidence and feeding self-doubt.
In some instances, self-destructive behaviour such as career self-sabotage is actually rooted in anxiety, and there has been and still is much to be anxious about, so we can hardly be to blame if self-protection is overriding everything else.
Ultimately, self-sabotage is preventing us from reaching our potential because it is stopping us from making the changes we need to make in order to achieve our goals, and if there is one thing which is essential in today’s everchanging business landscape, it is that we must embrace change.