Seven Career Killers

John McPhee,

Kudos to the paltry 14% of us who keep New Year's resolutions. The vast majority -- a full 86% -- go right back to our counterproductive ways as it relates to personal health, careers, relationships, and otherwise. Forgo the ever popular New Year's resolution to lose weight and, instead, commit to avoiding a simple list of career-killers that so often result in hearing the feared words, "You're fired," again and again in the course of a career.

Avoiding these seven deadly sins will also help individuals balance their "whole life" and assure they are ready to take on new workplace challenges as they are presented -- and execute them well.

Peter Drucker, the famed management author, guru, and teacher said it best: "Lifting a person's vision to higher sights, is the raising of a person's performance to a higher standard." Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes.

Deadly Workplace Sins

At least seven "deadly workplace sins" detail key emotional offenses professionals should avoid at all costs to better assure upward career mobility. A few common sense tips will help aspiring pros get on the path to the ever-elusive paycheck promise land.

First, there's pride. Far too many who experience "workplace wins" take full credit for these achievements, regardless of any support or assistance received in the process. What often goes unrecognized is that people around, and especially below, the serially solo-successful resent the egocentricity, and may actually begin to actively undermine that person's efforts in the future. While one's pride wants all due recognition, a team philosophy can build the grass-roots support that can fast-track a career. Indeed, a dose of acknowledgment of and appreciation for one's peers and subordinates, so they may share in some of the glory, can go a long way to foster one's long-term success.

Moreover, while it's OK to recognize other individuals or organizations as they achieve, lamenting "what should have been yours" can be destructive and can adversely impact your own ability to focus on the job tasks at hand. Becoming envious of others in the workplace can sabotage your self esteem, which is one vital characteristic of every successful worker or executive. Rather than being envious, let the accomplishments of others become motivational fuel for your fire in working toward your own successes.

Anger is another motion that needs to be held in check. Begetting nothing but disagreement, dispute, tension or conflict, anger provides no benefit in the workplace. There is simply nothing productive about anger, which impairs one's objectivity, poise and self control. Don't let a bout of righteousness damage your reputation and image in the workplace. It's fine to feel passionately about your job or a project at hand and to disagree with others, but learn how to channel those emotions into actions that will work to your benefit in the eyes of others -- especially your superiors -- rather than against it. Those prone to angry outbursts rarely get promoted; they are seen as being poor leaders who cannot inspire or motivate others.

One's selfish desire for "more, sooner" is what motivates many in the Western culture to achieve their career goals. But taking this notion to the extreme can and will be self defeating as core values become misguided and life becomes unbalanced in the process. The road to success requires a long term approach in all aspects of one's job duties. Those laser-focused on quick, short-term gains may do well for the moment, but will be ill-prepared to take things to the next level.

At the other end of the spectrum, sloth, or simply put, complacency and laziness have no place whatsoever in the workplace -- especially for those with high aspirations. Expecting one's past achievements and successes to carry them forward in their long-term career is imprudent. Today's uber-competitive global marketplace ensures that only those who continue to grow, evolve and make fresh contributions of value will succeed. In a global environment where outsourcing is becoming a norm, everyone at all levels of the employment "food chain" is now replaceable. So treat every work day and every project as if your job, and your future at large, depends on it. It very well may.

Many individuals move up the corporate ladder so fast that they actually end up failing as a consequence. More isn't always better -- especially if you're not ready for the challenge at hand. It's important to ensure that you are not only professionally ready to take on a new and bigger challenge, for which expectations are equally bigger, but also that your personal life is ready for the new demands and strains to be placed upon it. Achieving career success also includes maintaining a life balance, and a misplaced professional desire can create a backlash both at home as well as amid peers for your perceived obsessiveness.

At times this can spill over to lust. An overly intense desire for what others have achieved at work, or being chronically dissatisfied with one's own status, is a surefire career killer. Spending an inordinate amount of time fixated on what you don't have rather than what you do will foster a bad attitude and negative overall demeanor.

Above all, one's overall "presence" in the office plays a big part in who gets promoted and who doesn't. No matter how ambitious, it's prudent to be present and make the most out of your current position at this moment in time. Organizations recognize and reward those with a good attitude who make the most of a situation. Winners recognize other's success with sportsmanlike conduct, while at the same time exhibiting an air of confidence that they, and their team, will realize their own great achievements.

John McKee, founder and president of, is the author of "Career Wisdom - 101 Proven Strategies to Ensure Workplace Success" and "21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot."

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