Posted by Robert Half on 07 November 2014
Some common career advice that stubbornly persists in the workplace is best taken with a grain of salt if you want to truly succeed.
Unexamined assumptions can be dangerous, especially in the workplace. It is best to first examine them and relate them to your office environment before adopting them wholesale.
Working more hours bolsters success
Well, not necessarily, especially if you’re working longer hours because you’re not using your time efficiently. A lack of organisation or failing to prioritise tasks could be the real reason you’re burning the midnight oil. If you find yourself working late or on weekends more often than not, you may need to consider working more productively.
Volunteering for additional assignments
Not if you already have a full plate and/or can’t reasonably handle additional work. Overextending yourself can lead to burn out, and not being able to deliver can hurt your credibility. The best time to take on an additional project is when, a) you can fit it into your existing workload, and b) you have the required skills and knowledge to successfully complete it.
Turning down a promotion is always unwise
Not if the only aspects of the new position you find appealing are an impressive title and more money. Before accepting it, consider whether your new responsibilities truly excite you, help you achieve career goals or improve your work/life balance.
Not bothering with the ‘little people’
Focusing your efforts only on pleasing those who control your future is not a good game plan. Colleagues on all levels play an integral role in your advancement. Without help from your peers, you’d have difficulty with things like meeting tight deadlines or gaining access to key contacts. Also, remember that your coworkers’ opinions of your abilities and qualities are very likely to get back to management, and this includes both their positive and negative opinions. Impressing the higher-ups may be the ultimate goal, but success begins by fostering relationships with those around you.
Not engaging in water cooler chit-chat
This would be a good rule to follow if you have no interest in connecting with your colleagues on a more personal level. As long as you don’t participate in malicious gossip, there’s nothing wrong with sparing a few minutes each day for some non-work related talk with co-workers. Doing so strengthens professional relationships and makes you seem accessible instead of snotty and standoffish.
There are no hard and fast rules at the workplace. Very often, it’ll do you good to observe the existing company culture and examine your own personal career goals carefully, before blindly following common myths of workplace wisdom.