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December 20, 2007

11 Office Mistakes Women Make

By Amanda Rice

When it comes to the workplace, we’ve all made mistakes, but for some of us, we never seem to learn from the error of our ways and continue to make office mistakes that might be detrimental to our success.

Luckily, there’s always room for change and improvement and by paying attention to the following 11 office mistakes, you might just be able to bounce back from your faux pas and become the office guru you always knew you could be.

Office Mistakes #1
Sticking to the desk job

While it’s great that you’re working so hard at the tasks at hand, you’re actually missing out on a lot of what goes on at work. Sometimes working harder will hinder you from working smarter, and that’s what your objective should be.

Whether there’s an office bowling team or a professional network in your area that meets up once a month, making professional connections at the office and abroad is important if you want to get ahead in your career and in your profession.

Office Mistakes #2
You think you have privacy

I can’t tell you how often colleagues and friend of mine send around damaging email via their work accounts, doing so under the false impression that no one but the intended recipients will see them.

Almost every company tracks what its employees do, and you’re no exception. Of course, it’s quite possible that your emails are going unchecked, but why would you take that chance? Ensure that you never send around any email that could hurt your career.

Damaging email does not only come in the form of badmouthing colleagues or sending around sensitive information; you can get fired for spending too much time on social email – if your boss find out, she’ll assume that you’re slacking off on company time. And no one likes employing a slacker.

Office Mistakes #3
Asking for a raise at a bad time

Most bosses would agree that there’s never a good time to ask for a raise, but there is a right and a wrong time to request one.

For example, you should never request a raise when you’re angry; doing so will only come off as threatening. As well, don’t ask for a raise because you have personal changes going on in your life. Your boss doesn’t care that you bought a new house.

If you’re going to ask for a raise, you need to make sure that the company had a good year and that you’ve done your homework. Make sure to present a compelling argument as to why you deserve one. What have you accomplished for the company? What makes you an asset? You need to figure this out before setting up the meeting.

Office Mistakes #4
Treating your boss like a boss
It’s an all too common occurrence in the workplace; employees treat their bosses like they’re untouchable and avoid any social interaction with them due to intimidation.

But your boss is human, just like you. Alienating her might lead to career suicide. You should instead think of yourself as a support system for your boss. Imagine that she’s your client and your mission is to show yourself as a leader and professional.

Your boss will, in turn, view you as an asset and perhaps even a partner.

Office Mistakes #5
Revealing too much to coworkers

While having some social moments at work is necessary and even healthy, revealing too much about your life may end up harming your career and advancement with the company.

It’s fine to mention that your husband and kids are doing great, but talking about money woes or major purchases could be damaging. You never know who’s going to get promoted and before you know it, the colleague you just revealed all to may just have ammunition on your that you wish she didn’t.

Office Mistakes #6
Undervaluing your subordinates
Although I firmly believe that too many employees are incompetent, I also believe that you have to challenge them constantly if you want them to perform to their maximum potential.

As well, thanking them and offering them tokens of your appreciation will go a long way to ensure their loyalty and praise.

Office Mistakes #7
Overspending company money
We’ve all done it at some point; we’ve taken advantage of the company account and spent more than we should have. What you don’t know is that when it comes time to downsize, the people who cost the company the most are likely the first ones to go.

When you’re traveling and entertaining, do your best not to break the bank and live the “5 star” life, otherwise you may end up on the unemployment time come layoff time.

Office Mistakes #8
Being too honest

Growing up, I prided myself on my brutal honesty, but once I hit University, I realized that honesty is not the best policy and most people don’t want to hear the truth, especially not in its rawest form.

At work, it’s never a good idea to criticize anyone without an open request to do so, and even then, you must choose your words very carefully.

Office Mistakes #9
Basking in your success

You worked hard for the last two months and managed to close a deal and land the company a $40 million account; the biggest in the company’s history! That’s fantastic! Great job! Now get to work.

While it’s wonderful that you achieved such success, you need to celebrate for a moment and move on to bigger and better things. The last thing you want is to become that woman who spends the rest of her life living that one success over and over again.

Keep striving to achieve more. That’s the only way to stay on everyone’s mind – especially the ones who can help take your career to new heights.

Office Mistakes #10
Waiting for things to happen
Life would be great if we could just sit around, watching TV all day and end up rich and powerful anyway. But that’s not the way things work, so why would you opt to just “get by” at work and hope that you’ll receive a promotion or that someone will notice that you work hard?

If you want something, you need to be proactive. Your self-worth will thank you for it. Make an appointment with your boss to talk about your position in the company, or send out email to the relevant parties involved when you complete a tough task. No one’s going to toot your horn for you. Believe that.

Office Mistakes #11
Avoiding office politics
While I used to pride myself on being open and honest with everyone, I quickly learned that that’s not the way business works. When you utter negative criticism of any kind, you will not be appreciated for it.

If you absolutely need to confront someone on something, you need to come up with an innovative way to tell them without making them feel like crap. The best way to go about this is by writing whatever you want to say down, putting it away for 24 hours, then rereading it and running it by someone to see if they’d feel insulted by it.

The bottom line: Be open about your support for certain issues, but stay quiet when you don’t agree.

Stop making office mistakes

If you want to succeed in your professional life, you need to take the bull by the horns, but in a way that makes the bull want to obey. Ensure that you avoid these office mistakes and the apex of your career will be just around the corner.

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