Career Advancement 101: Stop Being a Fool

“I’m not here to make friends. I’m here to put in my time and move on up,” you overhear one ambitious junior staffer say to another. Really? And he wonders why no one gives him a break.

Like it or not — and you’d be better off liking it — the way you relate to your coworkers makes a big impact on your professional image.

Harvard Business School professor Laura Morgan Roberts says professionals in the workplace need to distinguish between the way they want to be seen and the way they are actually seen. She calls this “Impression Management.” The way we are perceived is affected by the way we handle situations (or, predicaments) and stereotypes (which are outside of our control). If someone believes they have a negative perceived image, he or she can take deliberate steps to turn that around and earn respect of his or her peers and managers.

The first step is to identify actions, behaviors and attitudes that contributed to the negative image.

The next step is to come up with a plan to stop those actions, behaviors and attitudes (starting with a good, long look in the mirror) and finding ways to present a more positive image.

Sometimes, the littlest gestures can go a long way.

Go to Company Gatherings

Whether the company sponsors parties, has informal gatherings at the bar, or takes everyone to sporting events, see these as opportunities to bond with your coworkers and increase your reputation as a friendly guy or gal. Even if your company doesn’t have after-hours gatherings, take the chance to chat with your colleagues on your breaks and as you encounter them at the water cooler. Amazingly, CareerBuilder.com says workers who do this don’t just get noticed by their comrades — they’re actually more productive. The site reports that 40 percent of workers recorded improved productivity in a poll conducted by Robert Half International.

Bring in Breakfast

Everybody loves to come into work and see a nice, fresh box of donuts waiting for them. Attach yourself to this goodwill by being the one who brought in that box. Your AMEX small business credit card will hardly notice the ding, but everybody will remember your generosity. For the best results, make sure the rest of the staff has arrived so they see you put the box on the table. Otherwise, you’ll end up being an anonymous benefactor and lose the career-advancing opportunity.

Don’t Put a High Priority on Emails

According to Inc.com, many people rush right to their email inbox when they get to work and begin to freak out as they are bombarded with all sorts of seemingly urgent messages. Then, they spend all day answering the emails and get nothing else done. Needless to say, this lack of overall productivity does nothing to advance your career. Make sure to send your own agenda, and don’t let emails derail it. This way, what you accomplish will be what the boss actually cares about.

Clean Up Your Desk

Messy desk lovers often claim they perform better when their desks aren’t pristine. While this is likely true, Bankrate.com says a messy desk gives the impression that you are overwhelmed and disorganized. Therefore, managers who are looking to hand out assignments will often pass you by. Also, the site notes that a study conducted by the University of Texas shows that most people who have messy desks really are less organized. You may find that cleaning up your desk actually improves your productivity as well as the impression you make.

Do Not Multitask

Multitasking will make you lose more IQ points than being stoned, CNN reports. They say that a study conducted in Britain shows that someone who is stoned on marijuana loses four IQ points, while someone who is multitasking loses an average of 10. Not only that, but those who do things like answer messages while they’re also engaging in face-to-face meetings are seen as rude. Rudeness never did anything to advance a career, and the added mistakes caused by distraction will only serve to give you a reputation as being incompetent as well.

Leave a Reply