The Top Ten Failures We Make as Employees
by Kevin Dwyer
I often write articles critical or at least challenging of management of organisations. But of course, it is not only managers who behave in such a way as to cause problems. Often it is me, the subordinate employee.
Here are my top ten failures I observe of employees, like us.
1. Continuing in a job I dislike
I stay in a job which does not suit me. I always ask myself, “What am I good at?” and, “What do I enjoy?”, but I do nothing about the answers.
I do not seek and secure a job that has at least some of the elements of the answers. I miss the opportunity to shine in a job that I will enjoy and thereby advance my career and remuneration.
2. Never asking questions
The boss asks me to do something. I leave their office not understanding what they really wanted. Or I leave the office thinking I know exactly what they wanted. In either case I did not ask a clarifying question.
What is the end result? The majority of times I deliver something back which requires a major revision or is completely off track. The reason I did not ask questions in the first place is some misplaced view about how competent I might be seen if I ask clarifying questions.
Returning time and again with work which requires revision, leaves people in no doubt about my competence.
3. Never saying, “I don’t know”
Pride or fear stop me from saying to the boss, “I don’t know” to a question which requires a factual answer. I either make a best guess or I pick an answer I have a vague recollection of from another conversation I had with another colleague.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find out”, is an answer I find difficult to say; even though coming back within a short time with a more considered answer saves time and rework.
4. Always managing upwards
I am so inured to concentrating on my career and not wanting to upset my powerful boss that I continually manage upwards. I make sure that they get no bad news. I even go to the level of burying bad numbers in a sea of detail. Or I am economical with my definition of some variables I need to report on so that they appear better than they are.
I do this to the detriment of the business; because the boss does not want to hear bad news, or so I have convinced myself.
5. Saying, “We can’t because...”
I respond to a presentation on a programme involving change with a sentence commencing with,”We can’t because…” I am being incredibly lazy. What I need to do is ask a clarifying question to be sure I heard right and then say, “We can if...”
6. Not being specific
I talk about our poor sales figures and explain them away due to “poor sales skills”; instead of being specific and saying, “Poor opening skills” or “Poor product knowledge”, or “Poor closing skills”. When I am not specific and I talk about a generic solution like “Sales training” for the above example, I risk applying a generic solution to a generic problem. Generic solutions applied to generic opportunities get a completely random result.
7. Managing time poorly
I continually arrive late for meetings. I even make a bit of a joke out of it. I can’t determine the difference between urgent and important tasks, proactive and reactive tasks. I call meetings which do not have a purpose. I cc people on emails I send because they might like to know. I complain of being overworked, spending many hours in the office over the norm.
8. Expecting a bonus for doing my job
I meet my targets, and I think I therefore deserve a bonus. My targets are stretch targets and therefore I think I deserve a large bonus.
In fact, when I meet my targets; I fulfil the requirements of my job. If I always meet my targets, I am likely to be promoted to a more challenging role with a higher salary. If I exceed my targets by a wide margin, then I may deserve a bonus.
9. Not seeing the big picture or only seeing the big picture
I work in a silo and am not interested in the impact I have on other departments or the organisation as a whole. That is their problem. They have a job to do just as I do and they just have to cope with what I do to meet my targets.
Or constantly I am aware of the big picture, changing what I do and what my department does to help out. Whatever it takes to get the big picture right is my motto.
I don’t get the day-to-day detail done. My customers suffer. My colleagues suffer waiting for my work. Our organisation suffers.
10. Not having respect
I bear grudges. Other people are either for me or against me. People must earn my respect. I have no respect for people with whom I disagree. I do not seek the common ground on which we do agree so that we may have respect for each other, even through disagreements.
Kevin is the founder of Change Factory, a company which helps organisations who do not like their business outomes get better outcomes through changing people's behaviour. To find out more about Change Factory and see more articles visit http://www.changefactory.com.au