5 Ways You Might Sabotage Success at Work

5 Ways You Might Sabotage Success at Work

Professional success and advancement is hard enough as it is. Avoid doing these five things that can sabotage success at work.

Just Don’t Do It: 5 Ways People Sabotage Success at Work

Growing a business or advancing up the ranks of a company is difficult enough without getting in the way of your own success at work. Here are five ways people sabotage success – their own and others – in the workplace.

Though not officially breaking hard and fast rules of an organization, and by no means exhaustive, here are five ways that people sabotage success. Not only do they hurt themselves and others in the process, they may also be negatively impacting your brand in the process.

  •   Having a negative M.O.

M.O., a shortened reference to the Latin phrase, “modus operandi,” translated: method of operation. It’s a term used to describe someone’s habit of working, particularly in the context of business.

If your personal M.O. or your organizational culture is often characterized by lack of enthusiasm, open cynicism, gossip, criticism, a “can’t do that” or “that won’t work” attitudes, then a negative M.O. might be holding you – or your business – back.

The last thing you want is for people to dread having to work with you because of your negative reaction to ideas or your “can’t do” attitude. The last thing any boss wants is to have to create a special presentation just to get one “Negative Nellie” on board every time they want to do something new.

Our advice? Even if you ‘know’ something isn’t going to work, get on board with your co-workers and company – and row. If you’re known as someone who is difficult or unpleasant to work with, it’s not likely that other departments or bosses will want to bring you up and on to their teams.

If negativity and cynicism are impacting your organizational culture, don’t fool yourself into thinking that it’s not impacting your business. Loss of morale among co-workers and negative individuals on your team – even if they don’t deal directly with customers – can still stall the growth of your business and negatively impact the customer experience.

  •   A poor appearance

If you would wear it to a night club, don’t wear it to work. (Unless, of course, you work at a night club.) If you would wear it to weed your garden or workout, don’t wear it to work. (Unless, of course, you work at a fitness club and you like to pull weeds on your way in.)  Dressing for the job you want to obtain (via professional advancement) is still good advice — even if that job doesn’t exist in your current company.

Unkempt, disheveled, poorly groomed or downright unclean – these should never be words used to describe any aspect of your appearance in the workplace or for any of the staff in your business. Whether or not you or your staff interface directly with customers or even other co-workers, appearance matters and will impact your ability to succeed.

  •   Innuendo

If you never miss an opportunity to make an innuendo, insert an off-color reference or drop a “that’s what she said,” chances are, you are sabotaging your own success in the workplace. In fact, even if you aren’t the one making the innuendos, but happen to be the leader allowing them to permeate your organizational culture, you could be leaving yourself open to personal liability as well as putting the business at risk.

Leave innuendo and off-color jokes to the stand-up comics and sitcom writers – it’s their job to come up with them – not yours.

  •   Not knowing how to talk or write more better than you do

Few business leaders rise to the top (or inspire their employees to share their vision) without having the ability to write and speak effectively. Delivering flowering oratory is not the issue; communicating clearly and without the distractions that poor grammar, spelling and inappropriate use of language create, is. (Proposition intended.)

  •   Keeping baby in the corner

For those unfamiliar with the reference, one of the most well-known lines from the iconic movie, “Dirty Dancing,” occurs near the end when the story’s hero, played by Patrick Swayze, comes to claim his heroine for a dance, saying, “No one puts Baby in the corner.” Then, taking actress Jennifer Gray’s hand, he proceeds to take her up on stage for the climactic scene of the movie, wherein the staff brings about the end of one era and the beginning of another at a luxury resort in the 1960’s.

If you put yourself in a corner, and never speak up, speak out, generate ideas for improvement or innovation, you sabotage your own potential for success. Or, if as the leader of your business, you regularly stifle or discourage employee suggestions or meet their dissatisfaction with an attitude that says you don’t care, you are also limiting your organization’s ability to improve and grow. What’s more, you are undermining employee morale and practically ensuring low levels of employee engagement.

Though none of these five self-sabotaging traits technically break the rules within your organization, they can prevent your professional advancement or business success all the same.




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