You have all had the feeling that you are a great performing act in the business. You are a top seller with multiple certificates, a great chef that brings out the best food, or even a manager whom everyone admires. You are thinking, “If I am so good, there is no reason to worry if I am going to get fired.” Think again. Many professionals who are very good employees within the setting of renowned corporations are not that good at keeping their jobs.
Companies post job offers citing verbs, such as “lead”, “drive”, and adjectives like “motivated” or “passionate”. Although these are necessary for the employer to find the right candidate to do the job required, for the employee possessing these qualities, it is usually of secondary nature. Yes, you went to the interview, and you got the job. But you will soon find that the most important things for you to watch as a professional are not particularly professional: They are co-workers and supervisors who feel threatened by your presence – especially if you are good at your job! Nobody wants the girl at the next desk to leave others in the shadows. And surely no supervisor wants his or her boss to think that Ms. Doe could do her job even better!
“Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” (From the movie, The Godfather Part II)
In order to avoid possible mid-career fallouts, you must have a distant, but close relationship with co-workers and supervisors alike. What does that mean? It means that you should hang out together, attend events, chit chat at the water cooler, offer cookies once in a while, exchange jokes, but never, never, never share information that would be perceived as a weakness, a shortcoming, or negativity towards anything around the world that anyone would take seriously. Before you know it, your words will come back and bite you! Think of yourself as a high-ranking official in the government. If you joke to your “friends” and say that you got help from your brother when you wrote that report, you can rest assured that the story will turn and turn and one day translate into closer examination of your work on the next project.
From time to time, you may wonder, “Is Susan not my friend? We hang out together, and she is a good person.” Sure she is, but Susan has feelings too! People are not good at compartmentalizing knowledge. Whatever you learned from a football game can become a lesson for you in business. Susan may even like you and talk about your “bad luck” in personal life to her friends out of good will. She might want to help you to “overcome the past” and make the best out of today. Still, nothing prevents the people she speaks to – second degree connections – from defaulting and turning information against you.
- Be open about personal facts at work, but do not become too personal about them. Competitive workplaces can distribute your “secrets” in an instant.
- Help others at work to finish their jobs with attentiveness and a smile. Your positivity will have a long-lasting effect and impact the stories told about you.
- Watch those who might feel uncomfortable of your success and see you as competition. Be more sociable with them and make them feel comfortable talking to you. It takes away the edginess.
- Already being good at what you do – you know what that means – get help when needed, and don’t blame others for your failures!
Notice that the above have little to do with your job in particular. They are a combination of human traits that will protect your position and raise your vlaue in the firm. Without these, even if you are “the best”, your tenure at the firm will only last until you get replaced by someone who will work for a little less money.
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