Don't let your good work traits go bad
Robert Half International
Successful professionals often share many attributes: optimism, helpfulness, commitment, perseverance. But sometimes, the good traits you possess can work against you in the office.
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For instance, being known as a nice person is certainly a good thing. Being too much of a pushover, on the other hand, may lead others to take advantage of you by directing unwanted assignments your way. Being seen as someone who's always "in the know" also sounds like a compliment -- unless you earned the reputation by trolling for office gossip.
Below are some other examples of positive attributes that can help you succeed in your career, provided you know when and in what measure to apply them:
Attention to detail
When it comes to ensuring top-notch work, you're the champion. But getting so caught up in confirming that every "t" is crossed and "i" is dotted could be hurting, not helping, your co-workers. For example, if you continually obsess over every minute detail before sending something out the door, you may be putting deadlines at risk. Likewise, if you're constantly double-checking their figures and reports, your colleagues may assume you don't trust them to produce quality work.
There's no doubt that producing error-free work is crucial to your company's reputation and to your own. But your level of scrutiny should be based on how important each assignment is to the business. For example, it makes much more sense spending more time carefully editing a client presentation than a draft report to a co-worker in another department.
You enjoy your job and take pride in being good at what you do. That doesn't mean your ideas and approaches are always right. In fact, insisting that they are is not only presumptuous but also rude to colleagues who also have valuable input.
Another potential pitfall: Self-confidence can lead to overconfidence. Take care not to bite off more than you can chew just because you're convinced you can handle anything and everything that comes your way. That's a quick path to disaster.
Work motivates you. Nothing is more satisfying than completing a project and clearing your desk so you can take on the next challenge.
But an upbeat attitude can backfire if you sugarcoat problems or make promises you can't keep ("Sure, we can deliver twice as much in half the time!"). An overly positive attitude isn't always realistic, particularly if you don't give yourself the chance to vent frustration or disappointment when faced with significant setbacks.
If you lose a major client or are passed over for a promotion, take time to acknowledge the loss, and then use that reflection period to develop a plan for moving forward. Just be sure you don't dwell on a setback or respond in an unprofessional way.
Multiple deadlines? Heavy workloads? Demanding clients? "No problem!" you say. "Bring it on!" While you may indeed have a higher-than-average tolerance for stress, everyone has his or her limits.
Even if people look to you to be their port in the storm -- and you relish that role -- there's nothing wrong with raising a warning flag in rough seas. Doing so will do four important things: ensure that deadlines are met, work quality doesn't slip, co-workers and clients aren't let down, and you don't suffer a massive case of burnout.
You love to make people laugh -- in fact, levity should be your middle name. When things get stressful at the office, you know just what to say to ease the tension.
Although humor plays an important role in employee morale, timing is everything. Know when a situation calls for a serious demeanor, no matter how tempted you are to break the ice with a joke. And take care not to offend co-workers you're trying to amuse. Everyone is different -- and so are their senses of humor. Remember, it's much better to be viewed as a quick wit than a clown.
Getting ahead in your career requires a mix of positive qualities, but, as in all things, practice moderation. After all, you can have too much of a good thing -- even the qualities that make you successful at work.
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Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit www.roberthalf.com. For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at www.roberthalf.com/dont-let-this-happen-to-you or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/roberthalf.