Adam Ayers

14 Ways Tech Professionals Derail Their Careers

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A career in technology has almost limitless potential. With the explosion in the use of technology across most industries, there’s a wide field for tech professionals looking for a good job in any field they have an interest in.

Indeed, tech professionals have an excellent chance to progress as far as they’d like to go in their careers—if they can only stay out of their own way. Below, 14 professionals from Forbes Technology Council talk about the ways they’ve seen tech professionals effectively sabotage their own careers and offer advice on how others can avoid going down the same path.

1. Being Attached To Outdated Methodology

Many tech folks will embrace a particular methodology or technique early on in their career and continue to embrace that way even as technology evolves. Be careful not to get rooted in old methods as matter of truth or “only way,” as it won’t necessarily remain the best way. – Aaron Vick, Cicayda

2. Being Unwilling To Adapt

It is frustrating to see tech pros who are unwilling to adapt. Tech moves at breakneck speed, so to have an impactful career you need to invest in yourself, stay on top of trends and emerging technologies, and be willing to walk away when something is no longer working. Too often folks function in a silo and get comfortable. They are then unable to transition when the time comes. – Abishek Surana Rajendra, Course HeroForbes Technology Council is an invitation-only community for world-class CIOs, CTOs and technology executives. Do I qualify?

3. Being A Poor Team Player

I think one way that tech pros sabotage themselves is being arrogant to the team around them. It is important for people to listen to other ideas and not be jerks. I have worked with arrogant jerks who were smart but just couldn’t work nicely with others as a team. These people seem like they are providing value to the company but in the long term, the performance of the whole team will suffer. – Eugene Malobrodsky, One Way Ventures

4. Not Having An Open Mind

Technology is always changing. It takes a lot of effort to become an expert in any technology. Therefore, it is understandable that some people find it hard to give it up and move to a new tech or domain. However, that would be a death knell to a career. Problem-solving approaches and experience are what makes us valuable as professionals. Keep an open mind, then you will learn and grow. – Song Bac Toh, Tata Communications

5. Having A Bad Attitude

Self-saboteurs don’t pitch in and help teammates when help is needed. In general, they treat co-workers poorly. And last but not least, they have a bad attitude. – Anne Bisagno, Xantrion

6. Refusing Input From Others

In an environment as broad as technology, no one is an expert at everything. Leaders who cannot accept input and advice from other subject-matter experts are limiting themselves and their organization’s overall effectiveness. – Cody Barnett, US Med-Equip

7. Signaling Versus Actually Doing

When signaling that work is getting done becomes a better career-advancement strategy than actually getting work done, there’s a problem. This problem is very likely to face tech professionals, particularly at larger companies where people who once started a career in tech to build stuff end up spending their time preparing presentations, attending meetings and navigating corporate politics. – James KawasThe Selling Company

8. Having A Narrow Focus

A narrow focus can take the form of staying put in a role too long instead of moving to something new or being overly satisfied with a particular technology instead of working to get exposure to new things. It can also take the form of not working to gain new types of skills. In all its forms, it can stop people from realizing their full potential. – Matthew Wallace, Faction, Inc.

9. Forgetting To Sell

The most successful tech pros I’ve come across are those who are great at sales. To be a great salesperson you have to stop and just listen to your customers. If you don’t know who your customers are or have never met them, you are probably going to find yourself out of work—often. – Adam Ayers, Number 5

10. Having Poor People Skills

It doesn’t matter how great you are at tech if you can’t communicate your ideas in a way that will be heard. The “brilliant jerk” is a very common personality in tech, and being that person is often the most limiting factor in a great tech pro’s career growth. Being great at tech is insufficient, because unless you work alone, and for yourself, people are essential to success. – Kendall Miller, Fairwinds Ops, Inc.

11. Settling For Mediocre Management

A great manager can promote and highlight the work of a tech professional, making sure that person is working on initiatives that make a big impact and get noticed. A poor manager can stifle a tech professional’s growth, limiting their ability to showcase their efforts and demonstrate value. Don’t settle for a mediocre manager. – Caroline Wong,

12. Lacking Humility

A little success can be a dangerous thing. Early in a tech pro’s career, success can breed swagger. Young tech experts begin to believe they know more about the technology than they truly do. Overconfidence leads to frustration among higher-ups, who recognize they can’t teach someone who believes they have all the answers. Once an engineer discovers humility, they can unlock the chance to grow. – Adam Stern,Infinitely Virtual

13. Refusing To Share Knowledge

One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve received was to make myself replaceable. Too many times, people believe that collecting expertise but refusing to share or train others will make them more important. What it really does is limit their growth and create unnecessary walls within the business. Always share information and help strengthen the team around you. The opportunities will come. – Brent Yax, Awecomm Technologies

14. Overcomplicating Things

Doing 30-page PowerPoint presentations and offering overly complicated explanations is 99% more detail than leadership needs. Learn to be concise—if your fifth grader can’t understand you, your boss cannot either. – Jeff Greenfield, C3 Metrics

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