Many of us aspire to be a senior executive (and many of you already are). Sometimes you might wonder why you’re not getting picked for the role.
You’re a solid performer, your work is great, and you’ve exceeded every goal yet still you don’t make it to the big leagues. Can’t figure out why? You might be exhibiting silly little behaviors that are easy to fix but no one has ever pointed out. In short, you sometimes come across as a clown. Now, I know I’ve previously said it’s okay to occasionally be a clown in the social networking arena but this post covers the flip side of that coin.
When you exhibit these little quirks, other senior executives (and your team members) question how polished you truly are. In a day when people are risk averse, they’re not going to take a bet on you if they believe you might embarrass yourself or the organization in front of the board, customers, partners, or large groups of associates.
The good news is I’m more than happy to point out some of these little failings that are extremely easy to fix. Yes, some take time to implement while others require but the click of a few buttons.
If you’re serious about playing at the next level (or if you want to ensure your performance at that level isn’t lacking credibility), read on, take a hard look at what you’re doing, and modify behaviors accordingly. It’s the little things that can make a difference. And here they are:
With the prevalence of electronic communication, you just have to nail this one. Your embarrassing emails are being forwarded and ridiculed whether you know it or not. A few things they’re making fun of:
– You’re using comic sans as a font. Unless you work at Marvel Comics, you need to be using Arial or Times New Roman. Using comic sans makes you look like a clown. Don’t believe me? Check this out: http://bancomicsans.com/
– You have multiple colors and inspirational quotes in your signature block. Stop. If I need a quote pick me up, I’ll go find it on twitter. If you want people to think about Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat when they read your email, continue.
– You hit reply all. Stop. 99% of the time there is NO REASON to reply all. Focus your messages.
– You CC EVERYONE (rather than BCC). When you do this, you expose everyone’s email to every other recipient. In an age where people try to avoid spam, you’re enabling it.
We’ve talked about some of this before when we discussed 5 reasons nobody reads anything you write. Go check it out again.
You never get a second chance… Your dress says a lot about you. Here are a few things to watch out for:
– Blue suit, black shoes. No. Stop.
– Black shoes, brown belt (or vice versa). No. Stop.
– Flip flops, jorts, t-shirts, and other nonsense. No. Stop.
If you’re unsure about how to dress, go find an image consultant or a clothier. They can help.
This one drives me nuts. If you’re not sure how to pronounce something, ask (or listen carefully to someone with impeccable speaking skills). Buzzwords sound dumb enough. They sound even dumber when you mispronounce them. A few of my favorites:
– Strategery (yes, I’ve heard it)
For some of my favorite word choice challenges, take a look at this post.
The vast majority of us aren’t funny. Unfortunately many of us think we are. If you crack a joke in a meeting and hear crickets or see eyes rolling, you’re in the unfunny club. It’s not endearing. People don’t enjoy your jokes and they cringe at the notion of you telling them in front of important clients, business partners, or associates. Leave the humor to the comedians.
Yes, I’m going here. Halitosis. Dirt under your fingernails. Sneezing and not covering it appropriately. B.O. Stains on your clothes. Unless you’re an auto mechanic we don’t want to experience any of these issues. Come to think of it, we NEVER want to experience these issues. Go clean yourself up. Seriously. It’s embarrassing.
Complaining and Oversharing
People don’t want to hear about your personal issues. That’s why they’re PERSONAL. Keep it out of the workplace. If you come to be known as the guy who’s always regaling the office with tales of his kid’s misbehavior, his marriage issues, arguments with in-laws, or problems with his lawn mowing service, pretty soon no one will want to talk to you.
Keep it personal. If someone pointedly asks you how your kids are doing, it’s fine to share. If not, they’re likely more concerned with their own work (or kid) issues to be burdened with yours as well.
Look, I’m not trying to be mean here. I’m simply giving some of you a wake-up call. And yes, I’ve been guilty of several of these items at times too. Fortunately I’ve had friends, colleagues, and family members let me know about my problems and I’ve done what I can to fix them. Go take a hard look in the mirror. One of the stupid little things on this list might be exactly what’s sabotaging your advancement and credibility.