CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 15, 2015
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6 Destructive Career Mistakes That May Get You Fired

Over the course of your career, you can count on making mistakes. It comes with the territory. The good news is that most mistakes won’t cost you your job, as long as you do something to fix the problem.

See also: How to Avoid Recurring Career Mistakes

But if you’re making these mistakes and doing nothing to correct them, you could lose your job, like I did. Yes, some of us learn life’s lessons the hard way.

Here are the six destructive career mistakes that may get you fired:

1. Being unclear about expectations

You’re working long hours and doing great work, believing that you’re a key contributor to the team. At the same time, your manager is disappointed in your performance because you’re not doing what he expects, even though he hasn’t clearly communicated those expectations. This gap between what you think is expected and what your manager expects is a danger zone.

I’ve seen this miscommunication many times during my career. Managers think they’ve made their expectations clear, yet they’ve never clearly stated them or written them down. That leaves their team to make assumptions and interpretations about what’s expected.

Take the initiative to be 100% clear on everything expected of you. If your manager hasn’t clearly stated their expectations, don’t be afraid to ask. Review what you think is expected with your manager and get confirmation and clarification. If you don’t, you’ll both be disappointed.

2. Neglecting to improve skills

It doesn’t matter what field or industry you’re in or how good you are at your job, there is always room to improve. But when things are going well, many of us slip into auto-pilot. We become complacent instead of taking steps to grow and bring even more value to our company.

Take personal responsibility for continuing to improve your skills and learn new ones. Many companies have programs that will pay for courses, seminars and other continuing education programs. If yours doesn’t pay, there are many ways to learn new skills online for free. If you aren’t learning and growing, you’re falling behind, and in the process you’re likely to become frustrated and unhappy.

3. Getting caught up in office politics

Don’t get caught up in the politics or take sides, especially when a company is undergoing changes. You never know who may stay or be forced out. Stay neutral and be your best at what you do. Your efforts will not go unnoticed. And if things don’t work out or the situation becomes too toxic, you’ll have little trouble finding employment elsewhere.

4. Not having an active professional network

Many of us don’t pay much attention to our professional network until we’re actively searching for a new job. We forget that the best time to build and maintain our network is now, before we need their help.

Having an active network goes beyond collecting business cards at events or having 500+ LinkedIn connections. To have a strong and active network, you need to build relationships. Whether you’re going to a networking event or building connections online, always look for ways to add value and help others. As you begin to establish a relationship, stay in touch by developing a system for regular follow-up. People go out of their way to help who they know, like and trust.

5. Being negative

Positivity increases your competitive edge, but negativity will only lead to dissatisfaction by both yourself and your manager. Once you have that negative label, your manager and co-workers begin to assume everything you do and say is negative, even if you don’t intend it that way. And once you have that label, it’s nearly impossible to overcome.

6. Waiting until it’s already too late

You’re afraid to admit your mistakes. Instead, you blame everyone and everything but yourself for the problems you’re facing. If this describes you, you’re living in denial.

I spent a couple of years in denial before waking up and realizing how negative and miserable I’d become. Several months before I was laid off, I’d realized some of my mistakes. I tried making some changes. But it was too late, the damage had been done. I’d overstayed my welcome, and there was little I could do to rebuild my reputation.

See alsoHow to Avoid the Common Career Mistakes of the Masses

Remember, everyone makes their share of career mistakes. If you don’t make the same ones I did, you’ll make others. What’s important is that you admit to your mistakes, correct them, learn from them, and move on.

So, how about you? Are you making some or all of these mistakes? If so, let us know in the comments below.

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