How playing nice can lose the career game

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jul 08

There are a lot of people running scared.  With the layoff reaper swinging his scythe up and down the office halls, the natural instinct is to keep your head down.  But it’s possible to go too far in your efforts to avoid undue notice.  Please, avoid the temptation to play nice.

There’s a difference between playing nice and actually being nice.  Being nice is always a professional asset.  Despite the corporate leaders that somehow succeed in spite of their abuse, positive relationships with your colleagues will always work in your favor.

Playing nice, on the other hand, is about acquiescing for the sake of harmony.  And here’s where the problem comes in.

Every employment agreement operates on an understanding of value.  Your employer pays your salary.  In return, they expect a certain volume and quality of deliverables, whatever they might be.  The more you deliver, the higher your worth.  The higher your worth, the more likely you are to retain your job, especially when the person sitting next to you is worth less.

Playing nice undermines your value.  For instance, if you get sidled with all of the grunt work on a project, you have less time to spend on the strategic work.  Your team members will produce more value just by virtue of working on more valuable tasks.  Or, maybe you are an equal contributor in the strategic department, but when a colleague takes the credit for the work, you let your boss believe it.  This erodes your perceived value.

Then there’s the question of your long-term worth.  Are you promotion-ready?  If you are, your long-term value for the company is much higher.  Corporate leadership requires effectively brokering agreements, delegating tasks, making tough decisions and engaging the workforce.  It requires taking a position, taking risks, and developing accountability in yourself and others.  Keeping yourself behind the scenes and avoiding conflict will not get you there.

So by all means, be nice.  Be nice, and respected.  Be nice, and successful.  Be nice, and deliver results.  But always be mindful of your value: don’t play nice.


About the author: Kristi Daeda is a success coach for professionals in all phases of career transition, including career planning, clarifying goals, adopting and communicating a personal brand, developing a job search strategy, and effective job search tactics. She blogs on career development, leadership, and job search at Career Adventure.

  • Kate Lewis says:

    Thank you for your comments back to me. I appreciate your taking the time to elaborate on your thoughts. Have a very “nice” weekend!

  • […] Be nice, and respected. Be nice, and successful. Be nice, and deliver results. But always be mindful…, […]

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