By Joni Lindquist

If you are new or a couple years into your career, there are things you should be doing and other things you should avoid.  Unfortunately, your college education doesn’t always prepare you for some of the basics for building a successful career.  Here are 8 “D”umb mistakes to avoid:

  1. Duh – it’s not all about you. We all have a tendency to think myopically and assume everything that happens at work is related to you.  That is simply not the case.  Only focusing on your tasks, challenges and situation can limit your potential.  Understand that it is about the company or organization that is paying your salary.  Focus on how you can help the company be successful. Do you understand what the company’s strategy is?  How does the organization make money and who are its key clients?  Being a good teammate is also crucial to your career.  When you are part of a team, make sure you deliver and help others as appropriate for the team to be successful.
  1. Being Deep into your personal social media at work. I am aware of several situations where an employee spends more time on their personal social media than doing their assigned tasks.  Talk about a huge career derailer!  One of these folks just got let go in a “down-sizing.”  While good people often lose their jobs when companies have layoffs, firms typically start with the poorer performers.  If you are sitting around on snapchat, Pinterest, texting, etc. – guess what, you probably are not producing a lot of quality work.
  1. Depending on praise when you are merely doing your job. I know, we baby boomers are responsible for this by giving the younger generations “participation trophies” for nearly everything.  Then we wonder why they often need feedback and praise.  Well guess what?   The work world is different than school in multiple ways – it was for us as baby boomers when we entered the workforce and it is for millennials.  We have all had to learn to adapt to new situations.  Get used to not requiring praise for merely doing your job.  It’s not going to happen. Find other ways to motivate yourself to do great work.
  1. Doing only your job is not enough. Many employees of all generations have a mindset that doing their job is enough and if they are in that job for a couple years, they ought to get a promotion.  Merely doing your job is not enough.  Your paycheck is your reward for doing your job.  You will need to show initiative and be willing to take on additional projects to advance  your career.  Be a “Go-To” person that others want on their team.
  1. Deadlines are not to be missed. This is an important one.  People who routinely miss deadlines with assignments will damage their reputation.  Bosses and others won’t trust you to get the job done.  Once you lose the trust of others in an organization, it’s is extremely difficult to repair it.  Be someone who meets their deadlines and follows through on commitments.
  1. Showing Disinterest by not asking questions. I’ve seen employees who do not effectively use their communication skills.  If you don’t understand an assignment or the “why” of the assignment, ask your boss.  Ask questions to learn about the company and the work you are doing.  By not asking clarifying questions, you may not deliver what is expected of you.  Asking questions demonstrates that you are interested in learning, one of the most important lifelong skills you need.
  1. Device usage – there is more than data and text options on your phone. Many of us have a tendency to rely on texts or email to communicate.  Many companies now have defined polices about when team members should pick up their phone and talk to someone instead of continuing an email string.  Build your interpersonal skills – your ability to talk with others – to solve problems together, to handle conflict and to be able to influence others.  These are crucial skills to have as you advance in your career.
  1. Disclosing Basically the opposite of #7, which is about building your interpersonal skills. Do not discuss things that should not be shared in the workplace.  Don’t be known as the company’s gossip hub.  If someone shares something in confidence with you, never betray that trust.  You need trusting relationships with teammates, bosses, peers, subordinates and clients to have career success.

Stay away from the 8 “D”umb mistakes and move yourself to becoming an “A” employee.  You will position yourself to advance in your career!  To start building your unique career plan, schedule a meeting by clicking below, contact Joni Lindquist –, or call (913) 345-1881.

Photo credit: Simone Lovati / Foter / CC BY-SA