Career Mobility: The 7 Deadly Workplace Sins

this is about getting ahead at work

The Tipping List

The 7 Deadly Workplace Sins

… and virtues that cultivate upward career mobility

-John McKee

devilish grinAchieving one’s career goals takes far more than faith; it takes keen insight. Success in the workplace doesn’t happen on a wing and a prayer, but rather by knowing what specific job promotion pitfalls to avoid in working toward that heavenly pot of career gold.

The following list of 7 Deadly Workplace Sins details key emotional offenses professionals should AVOID AT ALL COSTS to better assure upward career mobility. These enlightening, commonsense tips will help aspiring pros get on the path to the ever-elusive paycheck promised land:

1. Pride
Far too many who experience “workplace wins” take full credit for these achievements, regardless of any support or assistance they received in the process. What often goes unrecognized is that people around, and especially below, the serially solo-successful resent the egocentricity and may actually begin to actively undermine that person’s efforts in the future. While one’s pride wants all due recognition, a team philosophy can garner the grassroots support that can fast-track a career. Indeed, a dose of acknowledgment of and appreciation for one’s peers and subordinates so that they may share in some of the glory, can go a long way to foster one’s long-term success.

2. Envy
While it’s okay to recognize other individuals or organizations as they achieve, lamenting “what should have been yours” can be destructive and can adversely impact your own ability to focus on the job tasks at hand. Allowing yourself to be overly envious of others in the workplace can sabotage your self-esteem, which is one vital characteristic every successful businessperson shares. Rather than being envious, let the accomplishments of others become motivational fuel for your fire in working toward your own successes.

3. Anger
Begetting nothing but disagreement, dispute, tension or conflict, anger provides no benefit in the workplace. There is simply nothing productive about anger, which impairs one’s objectivity, poise and self-control. Don’t let a bout of righteousness damage your reputation and image in the workplace. It’s fine to feel passionately about your job or a project at hand and to disagree with others, but learn how to channel those emotions into actions that will work to your benefit in the eyes of others – especially your superiors – rather than against it. Those prone to angry outbursts rarely get promoted; they are seen as being poor leaders who cannot inspire or motivate others.

4. Greed
Selfish desire for “more, sooner” is what motivates many in our western culture to achieve career goals. However, taking this notion to the extreme can and will be self-defeating as core values become misguided and life becomes unbalanced in the process. The road to success requires a long-term approach in all aspects of one’s job duties. Those laser-focused on quick, short-term gains may do well in the moment but will be ill prepared to take things to the next level.

5. Sloth
Simply put, complacency and laziness have no place whatsoever in the workplace – especially for those with high aspirations. Expecting one’s past achievements and successes to carry them forward in their long-term career is imprudent, as today’s uber-competitive global marketplace nothing short of ensures that only those who continue to grow, evolve and make fresh contributions of value will succeed. In a global environment where outsourcing is becoming a norm, everyone at all levels of the employment food chain is now replaceable. So, treat every workday and every project as if your job and your future at large depend on them. They very well may.

6. Gluttony
Many individuals move up the corporate ladder so fast that they actually end up failing as a consequence. More isn’t always better – especially if you’re not ready for the challenge at hand. It’s important to ensure that you are not only professionally ready to take on a new and bigger challenge, for which expectations are equally bigger, but also that your personal life is ready for the new demands and strains to be placed upon it. Achieving career success also includes maintaining a life balance, and a misplaced professional desire can create a backlash both at home as well as amid peers for your perceived obsessiveness. Those who are truly successful in all aspects of life recognize that they perform better with a personal action plan, which details goals and aspirations relative to their work, personal and financial lives. Too much focus on only one facet of this life-success holy trinity is a recipe for failure in all.

7. Lust
An overly intense desire for what others have achieved at work, or being chronically dissatisfied with one’s own status, is a surefire career killer. Spending an inordinate amount of time fixated on what you don’t have rather than what you do will foster a bad attitude and a negative overall demeanor. One’s overall presence in the office plays a big part in who gets promoted and who doesn’t. No matter how ambitious, it’s prudent to be present and make the most out of your current position at any given moment in time. Organizations recognize and reward those with a good attitude who make the most of a situation. Winners recognize other’s successes with sportsmanlike conduct, while at the same time exhibiting an air of confidence that they, and their team, will realize their own great achievements.

John McKee, founder and president of, is the author of Career Wisdom and 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot. He can be reached at 720-226-9072, at, or at and

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