John Lees reveals the ways in which we hamper own career prospects and howyou can turn things aroundAre you setting traps for yourself? You’ll be familiar with the ways external events and even your colleaguesseem to conspire against your career prospects. Organisations can do it too – Manzoni and Barsoux’s book, Set Up To Fail Syndrome,suggests that managers make early decisions about winners and losers, and keepplum tasks for the future stars in the organisation, and save the killerprojects for those they believe will fail. So before you try to rescue your career it’s worth checking out whether,consciously or otherwise, a manager is setting you up to fall on your face. However, most career traps are designed, set and operated by ourselves.Often the skill of managing your career is to work out how you can get whereyou want without getting in the way of your own success. This can best be described as reducing your career limiting actions (CLAs).This is not a matter of committing corporate hara-kari – for example, byparking in the MD’s space, or being sick on your manager at the office party.It’s also best to avoid copying any part of your anatomy on the officephotocopier. Finally, if you’re looking for first-level protection, always think twicebefore pressing ‘send’ on any e-mail involving humour, personal references or questionableattachments. Generally, you should only ever write in an e-mail what you wouldbe happy to write on a postcard left for everybody to see in the post tray. CLAs are self-inflicted damage CLAs are rather more subtle – the booby traps we lay for ourselves when weare actively trying to do the right things in the job. This is often aboutworking too hard on projects that don’t matter to the organisation, or aligningyourself with out-of-date systems or methods. Build on your awareness of the real needs of your organisation. Researchyour present employer as carefully as if it were a major new account that youwere trying to win. Try to focus all your working energy on the results thatwill really matter at the top. Working smarter, not harder Success is often not about what you do, but how far you are seen to be doingthe things that matter by key decision-makers in the organisation – people whowill influence your future. It’s worth remembering that those who make decisions about your career futureoften do so on the basis of very limited information – where you have made apresentation or led a highly visible team, for example – so think carefullyabout doing things that are important and noticeable. Managing how others see you is a critical step. This often means takingadvantage of special opportunities, unusual projects or new teams, and usuallymeans that you need to be flexible about what you will take on. Sticking toyour job description is the surest CLA of all. Learn how much or how little to put in writing. Each organisation has itsown internal rules on using memos and e-mails to confirm or record decisions.Learn what is acceptable and necessary, and always do it with a light touchrather than sounding prim. If you can’t get the tone right in an e-mail, pickup the phone. Other career limiting actions are typically about the way you manage yourline manager. Don’t always double-check every detail to be 100 per centfire-proof. Go to your manager with solutions rather than problems. And make sure you avoid doing things that really irritate your boss. Perhapsthey have a clean desk policy, while you believe that a tidy desk is a sign ofa sick mind. Avoiding career limiting actions is ultimately all about learning how yourorganisation reads you and your contribution – and beginning to manage thatperception. John Lees is a career coach and is also the author of the publicationsJob interviews: top answers to tough questions, How to get a Job You’ll loveand How to get the Perfect Promotion Comments are closed. Career limiting actions (CLAs) – and how to avoid themOn 13 Apr 2004 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.