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Avoiding a Dozen Career Limiting Mistakes
By Michael C. Dennis, MBA, CBF

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A career limiting move (CLM) is any action that limits your future employment, or your potential for advancement, or your choice of assignments. You can avoid certain CLMs by following these rules:

  1. Recognize and respect the fact that there needs to be professional distance between you and your subordinates ---- and between you and your manager.

  2. When you disagree with your manager, ask if he or she wants to hear another perspective. If they answer no, do as you were instructed to do - unless the instructions are illegal, immoral or hazardous to you or others.

  3. Recognize that in business what your manager says is not always what they mean. For example, the phrase: "Please try to complete this assignment as soon as possible" actually means "Do this now!"

  4. Don't take management overrides personally, and if the decision to release the order turns out to be the wrong decision, avoid the urge to gloat or worse to say: "I told you so!"

  5. Never complain about your manager at work. You can assume that the person you are speaking to will immediately repeat your comments - possibly even to your manager.

  6. Never ignore or bypass your manager. There is no way to do so without being penalized in corporate America.

  7. Always complete assignments on time - period.

  8. Arrive early for meetings with your manager, or at the very least be on time.

  9. Accept 100% responsibilityn for what happens in your department. Senior management does not respect middle managers that try to pass the buck to their subordinates.

  10. Know exactly how much authority you have so you know how hard you can push back when others in the company [such as sales management] challenge your decisions or your authority to stick to them.

  11. Shore up weaknesses in yourself such as poor presentation or public speaking skills.

  12. Avoid looking like a contestant on "Survivor" during a business meal. Don't clear your plate. Don't eat with your fingers - even if you would do so at home...and please don't ask for a doggy bag.

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