It turns out that we all have blinds spots, and the only way to identify them and deal with them is to ask someone who has a different perspective and who will be honest enough to tell us the truth about ourselves.
We can do everything right for our careers (earn degrees, take on extra projects, work overtime etc.), but still find ourselves veering off track because of our professional blind spots, those little behaviors or attitudes that are holding us back or causing full-on danger in the workplace.
I've identified nine different "syndromes" or "blind spots" using very distinct characters and case studies from my 15 years of work on the subject. Here are just four of them:
Don't Fence Me In - This professional blind spot affects those who are often quite sharp and industrious, but habitually resist what they perceive to be cruel constraints of authority -- unnecessary rules that limit their individuality, their creativity, and most of all, their freedom. Sometimes categorized as rebellious or uncooperative, difficult and even defiant.
If this is you, think about the structure and norms of business in a new way. Just because you follow those basic rules doesn't mean that you are being smothered by authority or shamelessly catering to office politics or production rules. Playing the game is a smart, savvy way to get ahead... not a humiliating, white-flag-waving surrender.
Frozen Compass - People with Frozen Compass syndrome rely on their usual style of interacting with others, despite changing conditions and demands for new approaches. Unfortunately, they are so comfortable following the same path that has always worked for them that they don't recognize the roadblock. Whether that style is to be extremely candid and direct or more understated and indirect.
If you suspect that Frozen Compass syndrome might be your professional blind spot, take some time to analyze your personal work style. Start by defining your usual manner of interacting with other people. How has your natural tendency been successful for you in the past? Have you been rewarded for that behavior? What has changed in your work environment? One of the primary tools you can use to minimize Frozen Compass syndrome is self-awareness -- being more aware of your own behaviors and those of the people around you.
No Crying in Baseball - People in this category excel at functional, task related skills like technology or accounting but fall short with things like relationship-building and empathy. What should be a strong reputation for technical excellence is often diluted by a reputation for having a mechanical, detached personality.
If you think you might have tendencies toward No Crying in Baseball syndrome, ask yourself these questions: Do you feel uncomfortable showing any kind of emotions at the office? Do you inwardly lose respect for colleagues who express emotion more openly? Do you focus so intently on a task that you lose sight of the people involved? If any of these ring a bell, don't panic. There are valid strategies to help you make changes. Start by uncovering the genesis of your belief that displaying emotion is inappropriate. Most of us spend at least half of our waking hours at the office, so it's important to connect with our co-workers and relate to them on a more meaningful level
Faulty Volume Control -People in this category are struggling to find the optimal sound level for their own self-promotion. With some, their volume is too low, while others self-promotion volume is cranked up to the level of full-throttle. Many will not reach their full potential until they tune in and find just the right volume level for communicating their value. Blend in to the woodwork vs. standing out.
Getting hired or promoted is currently determined much less by what's on paper and much more by how you bring those credentials to life. Making yourself stand out involves turning up the volume -- strategically sharing your strengths with the right people and infusing your personality to add warmth, depth and dimension to your resume. Whether you succeed or fail is often determined by whether you can find the right volume level and better control the way others see your value.
Thankfully, there are ways to fix each of these blind spots so that we are not paralyzed or stalled in our careers. Once we understand the power of our personal reputations we can begin to see how others' perceptions of us can impact our ability to compete in the marketplace -- for jobs, for raises and for promotions.