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Seven deadly workplace sins

  • Story Highlights
  • Anger in the workplace damages your reputation and credibility
  • Too much focus on only one facet of life, like work, is a recipe for overall failure
  • No matter how ambitious, make the most out of your current position
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By Rachel Zupek
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( -- You know the type.


The guy who takes full credit for a job well done -- albeit any help he received along the way. The "one-for-the-taking-and-focused-on-quick-ways-to-get-ahead" cougar lady. The hot-headed jerk that jumps down your throat at any sign of question or disagreement concerning his latest project.

While most of us share a common goal of achievement and success in the workplace, we also know that there are ways to accomplish this ambition -- and ways to fall short.

"Success in the workplace doesn't happen 'on a wing and a prayer,' but rather by knowing what specific job promotion pitfalls to avoid in working toward that heavenly pot of career gold," says John McKee, business coach and author of "21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot."

To avoid becoming the once-respectable, often-humble guy who got a promotion but lost his wits (and gained an ego), follow McKee's advice on the seven deadly career sins to assure career advancement and move you on the path to paycheck promise land:

1. Pride

Despite any help they received along the way, time and again, people take full credit for their accomplishments in the office, thinking that personal success will fast-track their career.

The sin: "What often goes unrecognized is that people around, and especially below, the serially solo-successful resent the ego-centricity, and may actually begin to actively undermine that person's efforts in the future."

The salvation: "A dose of acknowledgment of and appreciation for one's peers and subordinates, so they may share in some of the glory, can go a long way to foster one's long-term success."

2. Envy

It's OK to acknowledge another's achievements, but lamenting "what should have been yours" can be destructive and adversely impact your own ability to focus on current job tasks, McKee says.

The sin: "Allowing yourself to be overly envious of others in the workplace can sabotage your self-esteem, which is one vital characteristic every successful business person shares."

The salvation: "Rather than being envious, let the accomplishments of others become motivational fuel for your fire in working toward your own successes."

3. Anger

Anger doesn't benefit anyone in the workplace -- it only damages your reputation, credibility and professionalism.

The sin: "Those prone to angry outbursts rarely get promoted; they are seen as being poor leaders who cannot inspire or motivate others."

The salvation: "It's fine to feel passionately about your job or a project at hand and to disagree with others, but learn how to channel those emotions into actions that will work to your benefit in the eyes of others -- especially your superiors -- rather than against it."

4. Greed

An employee's selfish desire for "more, sooner" is what motivates many workers. While these folks may do well in the moment, they won't be prepared to take things to the next level, McKee warns.

The sin: "Taking this notion to the extreme can and will be self-defeating as core values become misguided and life becomes unbalanced in the process."

The salvation: "The road to success requires a long-term approach in all aspects of one's job duties. Those laser-focused on quick, short-term gains may do well in the moment, but will be ill-prepared to take things to the next level."

5. Sloth

Indolence gets you nowhere in life -- especially in corporate America. Laziness in the workplace will have you sitting idle, watching others surpass you in success and authority.

The sin: "Simply put, complacency and laziness have no place whatsoever in the workplace -- especially for those with high aspirations. Expecting one's past achievements and successes to carry them forward in their long-term career is imprudent."

The salvation: "Treat every work day and every project as if your job, and your future at large, depends on it. It very well may."

6. Gluttony

Too much focus on only one facet of life, like work, is a recipe for overall failure. Make sure you're ready -- professionally and personally -- to take on new and bigger challenges, for which expectations are also bigger, McKee says.

The sin: "Many individuals move up the corporate ladder so fast that they actually end up failing as a consequence. More isn't always better -- especially if you're not ready for the challenge at hand."

The salvation: "Achieving career success also includes maintaining a life balance, and a misplaced professional desire can create a backlash both at home as well as amid peers for your perceived obsessiveness."

7. Lust

The old "grass is always greener" adage applies to the workplace as well. Spending your time focused on others' work achievements rather than working to further your own is a sure-fire career killer," McKee contends.

The sin: "Spending an inordinate amount of time fixated on what you don't have rather than what you do will foster a bad attitude and negative overall demeanor."

The salvation: "One's overall 'presence' in the office plays a big part in who gets promoted and who doesn't. No matter how ambitious, it's prudent to be 'present' and make the most out of your current position at this moment in time." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. The information contained in this article may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority

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