5 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Career

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Maybe you were passed over for a promotion or received a skimpy annual raise. Why? If your performance and technical skills are up to snuff, the reason might be your on-the-job behavior.

Research suggests that emotional maturity and the way you treat your co-workers and boss may play a greater role in determining your success than having a high IQ. At their most extreme, undesirable behaviors can lead to disciplinary action and even termination.

Here are some of the common behavioral mistakes IT professionals make that can jeopardize their income and careers.

It’s Your Way or the Highway

The accounting manager prefers Hyperion software, but you’re dead set on using SAP. You’re not only argumentative about your preference—you dig in your heels and refuse to budge. Running roughshod over the concerns of stakeholders can send your promising IT career into a tailspin.

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“IT professionals often have a strong loyalty to a particular vendor or solution,” Bruce Clagg, a Houston-based certified career coach and principal of Advanced Career Solutions, said in an interview. “They end up damaging their careers because they’d rather stick with a program they know instead of being customer-centric and flexible.”

Making Your Boss Look Bad

Was your last software update full of bugs? Did customers have a hard time placing orders when the network crashed? The CIO probably got an earful from an angry VP because of your snafu—and now you’re paying the price, one way or another.

Face it, your manager holds the keys to your success whether you like it or not. “IT exists to serve the enterprise,” Clagg said. “Disappointing customers or run-ins with key stakeholders can make your boss look bad. Believe me, a CIO will appreciate, reward and promote a professional who makes him look good.”

Being Boastful

So you graduated from a top-rated CS program and you’re the smartest guy in the room… most of the time, at least. But if you want to get ahead, you need to keep your ego in check, or you may be forced to eat a slice of humble pie.

“You may look great on paper, but if your uppity attitude offends your teammates, you won’t go anywhere,” Clagg said. “Your teammates will respect you and follow your lead as long as you’re collaborative, collegial and modest.”

Being a ‘Negative Nancy’

People who are quick to point out why something won’t work, or who shoot down everything that crosses their desk, rarely get ahead. While you don’t have to be a sycophant, be sure to pick the right time and place to share your opinions with your boss.

“Don’t express your displeasure publicly,” said Michael Shteynberg, a career coach based in San Francisco. “Young professionals often criticize their boss or company on social media because they underestimate the consequences.”

Getting Caught Playing Hooky

You’re on your deathbed… or so you said. So why are you posting pictures from the beach on Facebook and Instagram? If you’re caught interviewing for another job or enjoying a little weekday R&R, it may be impossible to repair the damage.

“You might not be fired immediately if you get caught playing hooky,” Shteynberg said. “But your next mistake could be the final straw.”

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3 Responses to “5 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Career”

  1. So what you’re saying is be obedient and subservient to the often time illegal actions of your previous employer. Now you realize you just showed your [expletive] dice. Maybe you all should let the voice of the people ring the truth in rather than deny the truth.

  2. MichaelMuegge

    Laying off well educated professionals may cause them to leave the workforce. Case in point, me, analog and power supply engineer. After looking for a new job for some time I deseided to stop trying to bust through a cement wall and change careers. I sold my house and became a stock market day trader. This turned out to be much more financially rewarding, but I miss electronics !