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Are you sabotaging your career?

Are you sabotaging your career?

You show up on time, pitch in, take on extra work and make plenty of money for the company. Yet you still see the juicy promotions, major projects and big raises going to other people. What gives?

Maybe the boss is a jerk and co-workers are stabbing you in the back, or maybe you could be making things tougher for yourself without even realizing it.

Here's your chance to find out. Just answer -- truthfully, please -- a few key questions. You'll get 10 points for each right answer and discover if you might be your own worst enemy at work:

  1. You have a choice of two positions. One is a job you'd enjoy with people whose values mirror your own. The second offers a much higher salary and more visibility in your profession, even if the company's priorities and ethics don't always mesh with your own. You choose:

    The more compatible culture.
    More recognition with a higher salary.
  2. When it comes to your boss's ambitions, goals and priorities, you:

    Put your own aspirations first.
    Know what he/she wants and use those goals as a means to fulfill your own.
    Still don't know what he/she wants and probably never will.
  3. The best leaders:

    Tell their team what they want them to do.
    Get their team members' opinions and involve them in key decisions.
    Borrow a page from ''The Apprentice'' -- give the team a goal, remain above the fray and make sure team members know they're accountable.
  4. Mentors are:

    A good resource.
    For youngsters just starting their careers. Once you get some experience, you'd better not need hand-holding.
    An excuse to propagate corporate favoritism.
  5. You've completed similar projects a dozen times before with great results. This time, the boss wants to try a new approach. You:

    Give five solid reasons not to mess with success.
    Say, ''Tell me what is different about this project, and how you want the results to change.''
    Think, ''Sure, I'm willing to waste time reinventing the wheel. I get paid either way.''
  6. Your boss is a jerk. The solution:

    Make light of his faults but use humor as your weapon of choice.
    Ignore him whenever you can, and hope that sooner or later his idiocy will get him fired.
    Find out what makes the man tick and use his goals to leverage your own.
  7. Your boss gives you a horrendous project with an unrealistic deadline. You:

    Can do anything! Accept the assignment.
    Take the boss aside and negotiate. Is he looking for detail or broad strokes? Is the deadline flexible or fixed? Can you delegate some tasks to other employees?
    Be honest -- and take a pass.
  8. The company you work for is under new management. Everything is changing and no job is secure. You:

    Send out resumes by the dozen.
    Weather the storm, ignore the changes, paste a smile on your face and keep up business as usual.
    Welcome change, volunteer your own ideas and send out resumes just in case.
  9. When you communicate with people at work, you:

    Treat everyone exactly the same. It's honest, open and fair.
    Speak to each individual in the style that makes them most comfortable.
    Communicate one way with superiors and another with subordinates.
  10. If you supervise people, it's really important that you:

    Maintain your authority -- even when you goof.
    Admit when you're an idiot.
    Don't admit any specific mistakes but try to keep the troops happy.

-- Posted: April 6, 2004

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See Also
You're fired! Surviving a pink slip
Give your career a boost
7 ways to impress your boss
Financial advice glossary
More advice stories

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