Boss Lady

5 mistakes holding you back from success


If you want to get ahead, you need to get noticed. But what differentiates average employees and business owners from the exceptional ones? It’s the little things that make a big difference. And often it is the little things that we overlook. So, to stand out from the crowd, you better avoid these 5 mistakes that could be holding you back. In fact, forget any thoughts about doing any of these. Ever.

1. Forget cut-and-paste communication

It was a work anniversary that got me thinking about this. That’s when the usual “Congratulations on your work anniversary” LinkedIn messages started pouring in from random contacts, who probably don’t even know what I do. The knowledge that they had literally just clicked a button, triggering a pre-written template message, made their congratulations redundant. There was just one personalised message, so I instinctively wanted to connect more with that one person. I don’t even remember the names of the ‘one-click wonders.’ If you want to get noticed, personalise your communication. Avoid generic at all costs or you’ll be filed in the SPAM folder.

2. Forget Tall Poppy

A while ago, one of the ‘talents’ at a media outlet where I was working featured in a magazine. The response from the rest of the team was predictable — sniggers and snide remarks behind their back. Yes, this person had an ego but it was still a noteworthy achievement. I sent them a quick email saying “congrats on the feature, nice work!” At the next staff meeting, this ‘talent’ got up, brandishing the magazine and I’m sure I spotted a tear in his eye as he revealed that just one person had congratulated him. He later approached me to say how much it had meant to him. Note, I didn’t say ‘suck up’ because people see through that in an instant. Be genuine at all times.

3. Forget gossip

You never look good trying to make someone else look bad. Seriously, if you’re backstabbing someone around the coffee machine, everyone else is thinking “what are they saying about ME behind my back?” When you’re frustrated, it can be so tempting to ‘offload’ and sometimes you just want to know: “Is it just me, or is this guy getting on everyone else’s nerves?” When I’m looking for someone to promote, it will be someone trustworthy and positive to be around — so it’s not the one talking about everyone else behind their back. My general rule is: Always talk about someone as if they’re in the room and never say anything about someone behind their back that you haven’t already said to their face. Integrity is a key ingredient in success and the way you talk about others reveals more about yourself than you think

4. Forget status

When I’m looking at hiring or promoting someone, of course I’m interested in how they approach and talk to me, but a more accurate gauge of character, is how they treat the Receptionist. This is often the most undervalued and unappreciated role in an office. I’ve watched people all but get on their hands and knees to lick the shoes of their boss and then treat the Receptionist with contempt. How you treat the Receptionist is who you really are. Plus, the Receptionist is usually the first to know when there’s a promotion coming up, or free stuff in the staff room, so they are a great ally!

5. Forget ‘that’s not my job’

Too many employees go as far as their job description dictates and not an inch further. Great employees always go above and beyond what’s required. Be a problem solver! If you find an issue, go to your boss with a solution before they even know there is an issue. Don’t just dump a problem on their desk and walk away. Read beyond the brief to what’s really being asked of you and prove that you’re capable of much more than what’s on your current job description. You’ll soon get noticed and promoted!

Now you know what to forget, here’s what you need to remember if you want to get noticed and promoted: Be a positive influence in your workplace, be a problem solver and be renowned for your work ethic. That’s the winning trifecta for workplace success!

About Annette Spurr

Annette is co-founder of Blue Box Media; a full service advertising agency in Brisbane. With over 15 years’ media and advertising experience, Annette specialises in writing for TV, radio, print and digital platforms. She’s also the founder of where she blogs regularly about life as a working mum. In her spare time, Annette loves running, reading and doing life with her husband and two boys.

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