You’re always on time for meetings. You have a smile for everyone. And your projects are always meeting their deadlines, which makes sense because you work late most days. But if you’re guilty of any of the office blunders listed below, you might be undermining your own career.
1. Spending too much time at your desk
Gluing yourself to your chair and staring into your screen all day long will help you cross items off your to-do list. But it won’t do much else. And there’s more to a brilliant career than a well-managed inbox. So get up, find a nearby coworker, and talk to them. You don’t have to have a reason. Just let them know who you are and try to form a few solid relationships. You never know when you’ll need a favor, like hiring help or a job recommendation.
2. Mishandling lunch
Every workplace has its own lunch culture, and it’s important you take part in this culture every now and then. If your coworkers like to go out to a restaurant together everyday while you chew through a sad sandwich at your desk, that’s no good. Likewise, if your coworkers are healthy, frugal people who don’t like to blow ten dollars and ninety minutes every day on greasy restaurant food, stop trying to force this. Look around and adapt. And remember: Food is never just food. It’s a social vehicle that shouldn’t be ignored.
3. Inattention to clothes
Dress code or no dress code, work clothes should always be clean, in good repair, and lint free. Shoes should look new, not worn, and hair should be orderly, not out of control. This applies to both men and women. Most of us rotate through the same five or six basic slacks, blouses, and shirts during the week, but if one of your go-to items develops a subtle stain or loose thread, pull it from the lineup immediately.
4. Weak greetings
When you pass people in the hallway, say hi. Add the person’s name and make eye contact, at least briefly. You don’t have to stop and chat with everyone, and you don’t have to smile if you don’t feel like it, but at least look up and say hello. It’s a small gesture with a big impact.
5. Neglecting opportunities to share credit and praise
After a team victory, acknowledge the credit that comes your way, and if possible, redirect it onto others. Share responsibility for accomplishments and actively lift others up. Don’t just passively allow credit to flow to you. And when it comes to blame, be willing to accept your share.
6. Being clueless
In the interest of “rising above” gossip and office politics, some employees choose to simply tune them out altogether. But there’s a difference between fanning the flames and simply dialing in. Pay attention to what’s happening around you. Know who’s getting along and who isn’t, who wants what from whom, and what’s happening behind the scenes of meetings and negotiations.
If something doesn’t go your way – from a missed deadline to a denied promotion – snap out of it. If you made a mistake, make amends and determine what went wrong so it never happens again. If you’ve been passed over for an opportunity, make a decision: Will you strive for another chance, or will you find another employer who can provide you with the career support you need? In either case, don’t wallow in disappointment. Take responsibility for you own future and your own feelings, put this incident in the past, and move on.