Felicity Huffman.Lori Loughlin. Harvey Weinstein. Prince Andrew. Donald Trump. These names that were once synonymous with tremendous, are now best known for a kind of career and lifestyle scandal that makes it hard to take them very seriously in the future.
As we close out the year, we thought it would be a great time to remind you of some essential professional gaffes to leave behind in the year that was.
1. Don’t (always) put it in writing: Sure it’s important to keep notes and records, but sometimes there are things that are so highly personal and potentially professionally damning that you might be best off committing it all to memory instead. “Don't put
anything in writing — email, text, slack, etc, that you wouldn't want the rest of the world to see,” offers financial writer Debbie Carlson who adds “An oldie, but a goodie, that people always forget.
2. Assume everyone sees everything: Along those lines, Ghostwriter Marcia Layton Turner said “Assume everyone can see what you post on social media, and don’t post anything having to do with work there.” That’s a tough one because some people use
social media to promote their careers. Maybe we can amend it to not posting anything highly sensitive or complaining about your boss.
3. Avoid stunts: For some weird reason, many people in the real world seem to think that a grand stunt similar to the ones on reality television might in some way be appropriate for the workplace. They aren’t. Ever. In fact, former Empire star Jussie Smollett’s false claim to have been the victim of a hate crime made him loathed instead of respected. He also lost future work opportunities.
4. Don’t lie if you’re caught doing something awful: Singer-songwriter Ryan Adams was just one of many powerful men accused of sexual misconduct. He denied all. Later, an unnamed woman provided proof of his actions. Adams later apologized, canceled tour dates and postponed a future album.
5. Don’t apologize halfway: In October, actress Gina Rodriguez used offensive language while rapping. Her first apology wasn’t much of an apology “I’m sorry if I offended anyone.” Later, she amended it to add “I have some serious learning and
growing to do.”
6. Don’t cut corners to achieve success: If the college admission scandal taught us anything, it’s that ridiculously wealthy parents have a funny way of trying to help their kids on their paths to academic success. Paying your dues isn’t just about being the lowest person on the totem pole, it’s about learning as you go so you can actually achieve something in life instead of just pretending that you did.
7. Stop running from hard conversations. “This year I learned the power of having truly difficult conversations – about salary, about relationships, about power, etc. in the workplace – and nothing has helped me to feel more capable and better able to serve the people who work for me,” shared Kristina Libby, EVP of Future Science and Research, Hypergiant Industries. “The secret is that if you are worried about it, someone else probably is too,” Libby continued. “If you have the thought, someone else probably does too. And, that by addressing those concerns head-on we can build trust. Trust is what makes every workplace better because it helps you feel secure to express more ideas. So, it feels scary to go into a difficult situation and talk about hard things but I’ve decided that it is WAY scarier to live in a workplace where you can’t.”
8. Take ownership of your performance management: While you might not have the corner office…yet… “You are the CEO of your own career, and your employment is an investment in your own future. It’s critical that you take ownership of how your performance is measured and managed so that you can chart your course and ensure your personal and professional goals are being met,” said Doug Dennerline, CEO at Betterworks. “This starts with working with your manager to clearly define and
agree upon the top goals of each quarter, which should include goals for career development. But don’t just “set and forget” solicit frequent and comprehensive feedback from your managers and peers, and keep an open mind and heart to learning
from that feedback so you can continuously improve yourself.”
9. Assuming any contact number can be texted: It seems simple, right? Not quite. “ I use a landline for business (and I assume larger businesses mostly use landlines),” shared Teresa Mears, CEO of Living on the Cheap. “An intern I was supposed to interview didn’t show up because I had not responded to his “texts.” I have also been ghosted by several interns. In most professions, those kinds of things can easily be shared with other potential employers.”
10. Committing to Small ideas: “Let’s all stop spending time and money on small ideas,” urges Ben Lamm, CEO of Hypergiant Industries. “Can you imagine what we could do if we did not limit ourselves?” The holiday break is a great time to dream big.
11. Don’t tell all: In a bizarre professional moment, Liam Neeson made a confession about his own desire for revenge while promoting the film Cold Pursuit which deals with a father’s pursuit of revenge. In an attempt to be relatable, many celebrities reveal too much (or jump on couches on the Oprah Winfrey show).
12. Don’t bite the hand that (literally) feeds you: Prince Harry and wife Meghan Markle seem uncomfortable with all the public scrutiny. That makes sense for a young family. What doesn’t make sense though, is what some see as an aggressive tone in avoiding the tax-paying public that pays for a large portion of their upscale lifestyle. Job requirements aren’t always fun, but paying attention to your responsibilities before accepting a position is smarter than complaining about them once you’re hired.
13. Thinking your past won’t haunt you: Calgary Flames head coach Bill Peters resigned after allegations that he used racial slurs a decade ago emerged. If you have a skeleton in your own closet, face it, address it and fix it.
14. Being remembered for someone else’s work: Special Counsel Robert Mueller had one job- finding any connections between the Trump campaign and Russian influence. It doesn’t matter what he did before or will do afterward, his professional career is now highlighted by this one moment in time.
15. Don’t make a living from other people’s pain: It sounds simple, right? Not quite. The opioid crisis didn’t happen in a vacuum. Pharmaceutical companies made billions of dollars off of other people’s suffering. We all know better. Maybe it’s time to do
better as well. You should probably avoid these too.
16. Don’t leave a job without letting your contacts and colleagues know why. It might feel like the end of the world now, but you never know what’s right around the corner.
17. Don’t lie about your qualifications: Everyone knows if you’re faking. Why damage your reputation for the long term by pretending to know something you don’t?
18. Not saying thank you: If someone did something nice for you then, let them know now. You never know what favors you might need in the future.
19. Being impatient with others: We’re all just trying to get by and do our best.