The demands of a robust career can be overwhelming, to say the least. From difficult bosses, increasingly dynamic goals to uncooperative teammates, the challenges never seem to end.
As such, the tendency to take shortcuts is becoming increasingly common among career builders. The Oxford dictionary defines a shortcut as an alternative route that is shorter than the one usually taken. Unfortunately, not every shortcut is a desirable alternative.
Countless people have lost great career opportunities due to this habit. Take the case of Robert, a process technician in a fledgling packaging firm. When the automated system sent out a distress signal, Robert decided to disregard the documented troubleshooting procedure and simply restarted the system.
Unfortunately, the problem was much more severe than he thought. The end result was tonnes of misprinted and damaged packaging. Robert lost his job the next day and is still pondering his next move. Many people make these mistakes. Some like Robert will attempt to shortcut the usual process out of laziness or sheer laxity.
Others will take shortcuts in telling the story as it is, preferring instead to give a modified version for selfish reasons. And yet others will not go the whole distance in seeking solutions, choosing instead to take the easiest option out of every little dilemma.
And others, to avoid risk, will misuse their boss by consulting on each and every minor decision rather than think through, make some decisions and learn. Others invent schemes to make illicit cash through misrepresentation of facts and the consequent diversion of company resources for selfish gain. Some people even go to the extent of taking shortcuts in their own career training and development, a classic case of self-sabotage!
These shortcuts do more harm than good. The individual involved is the first loser in the game mostly through lost chances and delayed career growth. In extreme cases, some individuals end up in jail as employers attempt to get justice for the accrued losses.
In team settings, other team mates also pay the price while the organisation in question is left counting losses arising from poor customer service, low innovation, depressed productivity and lost market share. So what should one do? To start with, you must identify whether you have been bitten by the shortcut bug. A critical analysis of your work life coupled with some honest discussion with a supervisor or professional career coach can shed good light in this regard.
Never lose sight
Like all vices, you must replace the habit with another. Make the decision to do the right thing whether someone is looking or not. Initially, you will need to be conscious of your actions as the tendency to slip back is much higher whenever you drop your guard.
Ride on the perceived benefits of going the whole distance in building a new habit. Seek out and acquire appropriate behaviour change books and materials. Surround yourself with the right people. Keep away from situations that may raise the temptation to take shortcuts. Whatever you do, remember to never lose sight of the prize which is career success.
—The Writer is Human Resource Specialist and the co-author of “The Career Code”. Email: [email protected]