Career – Stop The SelfSabotage
Are you your own worst enemy at work with behaviour that slows your progress? Read on to see which habits apply to you and how to break them
Does this describe you: you are constantly on your phone during work hours for personal exploits. Nine out of ten times, you’re using the company Wi-Fi to WhatsApp, share social memes on Twitter and watch Instagram live videos. Stop and think. How much work can you realistically complete in between watching TV series on your desktop?
Then the time for promotions comes, and surprise, surprise, you are not among those picked to move to the next job grade. Devastated, you question why you’ve been overlooked when you are at your desk 24/7, working on the job.
Er, remember the behaviour described above? These are serious red flags that can hamper your career progress. While you may be entitled to them, when, where and how you display or use them is where the self-sabotage lies.
Let’s take a look at six behaviours stopping you from taking your career to the next level:
1. GATVOL ABSENTEEISM
The rules for taking leave are usually very clear. The Department of Labour states that, based on Legislation in Section 20 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, “workers must get annual leave of at least 21 consecutive days, or 1 day for every 17 day worked or 1 hour for every 17 hours worked.” The conditions of your leave would’ve been agreed upon upfront in your contract, and so you should understand how the system works.
But, as Johannesburg-based industrial psychologist Jenna Segal explains, “Absenteeism, in this instance, does not mean taking your annual or sick leave. It’s when you take what’s called ‘gatvol’ leave. This means that people are either burnt out or not fully engaged in their work so they take time off work without much warning.” In the middle of a team deadline, this could be detrimental to its success, and add pressure to the team as a whole. “Remember, we all need to take breaks from work and time to recover. It becomes self-sabotaging when people choose to do this as a passive aggressive ‘protest’, rather than having a proactive engagement with management,” Segal adds.
2. PRESENT, BUT NOT REALLY
Being physically present at a place, doesn’t necessarily equal to being fully engaged. Segal describes presenteeism as people arriving at work, but either doing the bare minimum, being unproductive or become ‘professional passengers’. There’s probably a situation where you’ve seen someone in your office who displayed this behaviour. What kind of emotions did this bring out in you and other colleagues? Most likely frustration, irritation and anger that the person was just coasting or plain lazy. “People who do this are less likely to enjoy their work or make an impact. This is not enough to fire you, but enough to make your manager distrust you,” Segal emphasises.
3. SAYING YES TO EVERYTHING
When you’re new to an organisation, you’re often given the opportunity to work in various departments before settling down to what becomes your niche. Many new employees feel entitled to these rotations. Although, many times, it’s mandatory, it’s important to make sure you track what you agree to, so you don’t stall your growth. Saying yes to everything when you’re new is well-intended, says Kutlwano Bokala, a Centurion-based consultant and coach specialising in human resources solutions. “You want to showcase your expertise, to show you’re willing to go the extra mile, be a team player and that ideal employee you promised in your interview and exhibited in your CV. In the structure of many internship programmes, you actually get exposed to different functions so the organisation can also track your career growth and map out your succession plan,” she says.
However, most time, saying yes to everything is rooted in the fear of missing out on opportunities. Despite this, Bokala stresses that, “not measuring your yes can sabotage your career. You can’t create employee/employer boundaries, which can
lead to you feeling depleted and exhausted.” Once you become dubbed a ‘Yes Mam’, it becomes difficult when you say no, even when you’re entitled to.
4. BEING A LONE RANGER
Even if you consider yourself an introvert, the fact remains you have colleagues. Be careful not to turn privacy into exclusion. Excluding key members from your career journey could lead to stagnation, Bokala explains. “Get a mentor and be accountable to someone. Ask for tips from your seniors on how you can improve. Get people who can advocate for you when you’re not around — someone who can testify that you work super hard. You may think you don’t need friends, but you do need people as they will help you advance your career.”
So don’t isolate yourself, but grow relationships that you feel are authentic to who you are.
5. DISPLAYING SELF-IMPORTANCE
It’s important to not feel self-important, and think a degree is all you need to advance your career. “In this current climate, organisations are cutting down on training and development. If you don’t understand this as an employee, you’ll get frustrated at why you aren’t getting the opportunities,” Bokala continues. Recognise that development can come in numerous forms.
Learning from others and their experiences can be a way to make sure you remain relevant and sharpen your skills. “We need to be agile with how we understand progression. How we grow will not come in the traditional form. There’s no distinct hierarchy or ladder to climb, in some ways, the ladder no longer exists,” Bokala explains. Segal adds that in any organisation, there are opportunities for people to grow that aren’t necessarily in a vertical growth trajectory. There could be extra training your direct job needs, or the potential to become involved in a committee or club at work. Although this may add extra tasks in your day, it broadens your skills and allows for wider social interactions in the organisation. b
6. BEING PURPOSELESS
Many people feel as if having a job means you have a purpose. This is not entirely true, because people often have jobs purely as a source of income. “When it comes to careers, it’s great to know where you’re going and what you need to do, but most importantly, why you’re in a particular career,” says Miné Symington, a Tshwane-based Human Capital Business Partner. She continues: “Many people think they don’t have to outline their purpose as part of a member in a team. But, clarifying it will help you to 100% crystalise why you do what you do, and help your teammates and manager to also buy into what you’re trying to achieve.”
IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO CHANGE YOUR WAYS
When you’ve been a certain way for a long time, it takes a lot of courage to firstly recognise that you’re not in a good space from a workplace behaviour perspective, and then to also change the behaviours. Segal says, “If you realise you’ve been acting in a way you no longer want to continue, it’s time to re-evaluate. Ask yourself questions such as ‘Why am I not feeling engaged in my work?’ or ‘What’s promoting this behaviour in me?’. This exercise is not about self-criticism, but rather about you coming from a place of curiosity and neutrality.”