Career Speedway

by The Red Recruiter on June 5, 2010

Firebird Car CrashSomething occurred to me yesterday as I was driving home from work… the dynamics I see at play on the highway really remind me of the workplace.

Personalities at work, and how you navigate them, can play a huge role in your career success.  It made me ponder the correlation…

Speed Demons

You know the drivers I’m talking about.  These are the caution-less, speed loving “owners” of the road who like to zoom by at completely unreasonable speeds.  They are often in a hurry to get nowhere.  I love pulling up to a stop light next to someone who just got done passing me only to see them waiting impatiently for the light to turn green.

In the workplace, these speed demons handle their careers much in the same way as they drive.  It’s all about the speed!

Unless you’re Superman/Superwoman there is no way to balance super velocity with detail orientation.  Somewhere along the way, you will miss details and end up making others look bad.  Further, this approach does not have a happy ending.  It can be presumed that someone who always pushes the envelope will eventually make a fatal error.  They’ll crash and burn.

Reckless Drivers

As compared to Speed Demons, the Reckless Drivers are not always the fastest on the road… but, they make decisions that are equally harmful.  These people change lanes without looking, cut you off in line and are probably on their cell phones (or putting on make-up) at less than optimal times.

At work, a Reckless Driver can cause a lot of headaches by cutting corners, bending the rules (beyond a reasonable point) and constantly putting their needs before the needs of the group or company.  Worst of all, they don’t understand why it’s a problem.

Slow Drivers

While not as frustrating as the previous two, this type can be equally hurtful to success in the workplace.  You’ve all been caught behind a Slow Driver at one point or another in your career.  This master contemplator has a hard time making decisions and moving forward.  Without the help of outer affirmation, often times they prefer not to make decisions at all.

Another trait of this career personality is their rate of completion.  What could be done in a day will take this person weeks.  Perhaps for their speed, but also due to how much they over analyze every small decision.

Tailgaters

My least favorite category of driver, this career personality can usually be found on the coattails of someone within your organization.

Just as on the roads, this bumper lover will sooner or later be privy to the unfortunate destiny of slamming into the person in front of them.  Of course, it won’t be their fault when it happens… or is it?

Tailgating is not a safe approach in developing your career.  While it’s perfectly acceptable to have mentors, teachers and a team that helps in your career progression, it’s also pertinent that enough distance is left for individual accomplishment.

What happens when the person your following runs into a major obstacle or slams on their breaks?  You’re stuck, without options or the time necessary to navigate around the situation.

It doesn’t make sense on the road and it’s a terrible strategy at work.

Defensive Driving

There is a reason why Defensive Driving is considered the safest form of travel on the road.  Destination in sight, this person is aware of potential obstacles and plans in advance for them.

In the workplace, you must set goals, understand your route (as much as possible) and always be on the lookout for influences that could derail your efforts.  It’s okay to go five over the speed limit, but you have to be aware of your risks and plan in advance for moments when you may need to push the envelope.

By no means is risk taking a bad attribute.  Sometimes you simply have to take calculated risks in advancing your career.  However, that does not remove the need to have a “Plan B.”

What other driving styles do you see in the workplace?  How do you recommend others navigate the career speedway in their presence?

Zoom, zoom!

Photo Credit, libbyrosof

  • http://www.weekendletter.com Jon L. Long Sr.

    I hadn't related the two before, but now that you mention it… I know some people (Type “A”) that drive agressively, and are always in a hurry at work. It tends to be “all about them” and what “they need or want”, whether it is that 20 feet of road in front of you or the next step up the corporate ladder. They do whatever it takes without regard to others. Maybe that is where rudness comes from. One of my pet peeves. Thanks for the post.

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  • http://www.weekendletter.com Jon L. Long Sr.

    I hadn't related the two before, but now that you mention it… I know some people (Type “A”) that drive agressively, and are always in a hurry at work. It tends to be “all about them” and what “they need or want”, whether it is that 20 feet of road in front of you or the next step up the corporate ladder. They do whatever it takes without regard to others. Maybe that is where rudness comes from. One of my pet peeves. Thanks for the post.

  • Pingback: The Human Capital Vendor Space: Rants, Rulings and Ramblings by J. William Tincup, Starr Tincup | » The Daily Briefing – June 7, 2010

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    I'm still hoping that you design that laser gun that pokes a hole in the tailgater's radiator… *fingers crossed*

  • http://theredrecruiter.com theredrecruiter

    I'm still hoping that you design that laser gun that pokes a hole in the tailgater's radiator… *fingers crossed*

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