How To Bring Your Career to a Crashing Halt

by Joe Lavelle on June 16, 2009

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How to Crash Your CareerIn my new book, Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail, I provide proven strategies for accelerating your career growth and for getting faster promotions and bigger raises.  In this post, I want to offer the opposite advice.  I am going to share some strategies that will surely cause your career to come to a crashing halt. These strategies are as valid as the career acceleration strategies in my book. How do I know? I have used each strategy personally and many people I have mentored and coached were once using them as well.  If you are using any of these strategies, please pull over to the side of the road (take time off to evaluate how you got there), get out your map (seek guidance from your network of mentors), and set yourself back in the fast lane to success (create a plan to eliminate your bad behaviors).

Foolproof Crash Strategies

duncecap1) The “That’s the Dumbest Idea That I Have Ever Heard” Strategy —  I was an engineer in college and was taught “black and white” thinking.   Additionally, I was taught to defend and debate my view of the truth aggressively.   So, in my first three or four years in the business world, my associates and clients would regularly hear me blurt out from the back of a meeting “That’s the Dumbest Idea That I Have Ever Heard” regarding any idea that wasn’t mine.  Needless to say I created more than a few hurt feelings and, sadly, I even made a couple of people cry.  Over the years, I learned a much better approach.

To Correct: Instead of blurting out, “That’s the dumbest idea that I have ever heard” I learned instead to say, “That’s a really interesting perspective, but what if we thought of it like this…”

billboard2) The “My Boss is An Idiot Campaign” Strategy —  Because I was a consultant, I had occasion to have many bosses over the course of the early part of my career. Many of these men and women were terrific and still mentor me in my career.  But, in all honesty, there were several bosses that clearly were not qualified to be in their positions.  I applied the same “black and white” thinking mentioned in the previous strategy to take it upon myself to communicate loudly and brashly just how incompetent I found those bosses.  What I learned over time is that everyone already knew what was going on and my negative campaigning only brought my stock down and there were much more effective approaches.

To Correct: Instead of campaigning about your boss’s lack of capability, use all of your energy to make your boss more successful.  In most cases, your boss will be tremendously appreciative and will have no alternative but to recognize your superior performance.  And, everyone else will recognize your contribution, your leadership skills, and your team play.

3) The “I Got Screwed” Strategy for Performance Reviews — Early in my career, I ignored the performance management process at the companies for which I worked.  My thought process was that if I worked the hardest and accomplished the most, my boss would SURELY recognize my efforts and I would get terrific raises and early promotions.  Guess what?  When I got performance reviews, my reaction was often “I got screwed”.   I was very slow on this one; this occurred several times before one of my mentors showed me a better approach.

screwedTo Correct: Instead of waiting until I got a review that I didn’t like to talk to my boss about my performance.  I talked with my boss at the beginning of the year about what his expectations were and about what I would have to do to get promoted and a big raise.  I documented those expectations and then I checked in regularly and continued to document our discussions.  This way, I was able to course correct and eliminate the chance that I would be surprised at review, raise, and promotion time.

Look, I have yet to meet anyone who is perfect, so it would not be reasonable to expect that you will not find yourself in one of these situations or a similarly destructive situation.  What is important is that you identify when you are on course for a crash and that you course correct as quickly as possible so you can get back to accelerating your career.  Please contact me if you are in a situation in which you need help before someone has to extract you with the “jaws of life“.

Good luck to you and always Act As If It Were Impossible to Fail!

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