How to avoid six common mistakes in mid-career stages

Whatever happens at in one's career is generally within his or her control. Yet, there are certain common blunders that many people do. Six of such common mistakes are sought to be discussed in this article, based on real world experiences.


It should be noted that successful Career Planning is often the result of a big focus on learning opportunities and value-adding contributions in different roles. However, there are six common mistakes often done by even the most intelligent people. The six are: a) Quitting one's job only for the money b) Joining big names in Project jobs c) Empire building and related ego hassles d) Being very happy with comfort zones e) Challenging Management after success in crucial roles and f) Getting into dead-end jobs and activity traps.

Quitting one's job only for the money

This often happens in the Mutual Fund industry and in the FMCG industry. Someone in the promoter family meets a fairly Senior Manager, invites him for dinner and the individual is immediately bowled. He or she thinks that everything is going to be milk and honey flowing from all directions. This is far from the truth. Even if the position is in the position of a General Manager, in a very attractive role, he or she has to contend with at least one Senior level person. This position is often called Vice President, normally reporting to the CEO and the Board. In effect, the General Manager would end up second fiddle to this person. The tasks delegated may be monitoring tasks with clearly defined powers and authority. Yet, since the final decision is taken by the boss, he or she is found to be fuming. The money is very good. This is the only silver lining in an otherwise gloomy situation.

The tensions become even more acute when the family is very happy with the luxuries. Someone in the Management is often mandated to sing paeans of praise and this keeps the wife very happy. This is done with meticulous precision and, at the end of the day, what matters is money. The individual sometimes gets used to playing second fiddle and when he or she is above 45 years of age, the family pressures to "settle down" kicks in. This is exactly a dangerous trap. All this could have been avoided if several questions regarding the scope of the role and job had been clearly understood. The process of " sniffing around" is relevant here. It does pay to at least two visits, meet with different people and then take a decision. Yes, the situation would be different if the senior person is HR oriented and really develops the individual. This is a very difficult ask, though. Such bosses are indeed rare. Hence, if you are 40 plus, be very careful when you change your job. Doing so only for the sake of money will do nothing good for your career.

Joining big names in Project jobs

The Essar group, the Anil Ambani group and the GVK group are all examples of very big names. They have got into so many projects. They have messed up so many projects too. And with such a horrible record, they have spoiled the careers of hundreds of people too. Those who often join in such project jobs, do so in good faith, always trusting the big brand name. Somewhere down the line, debts start piling up. The suppliers start barking. The natural ax falls on the lower level employees. Every possible service is on contract. Vacancies arising out of death, retirement or resignation are never filled up. The labor contractors are happy. Their working capital requirements keep on climbing as their payments are delayed by even ninety days. They operate on reduced profit margins.

If you are locked up, say, as General Manager of Supply Chain Management, you will be having a torrid time trying to satisfy so many disgruntled lorry owners who are angry that their dues are delayed. This author had seen this when he himself shifted to a new role in HR in a bulk drug company. Similar blunders had also happened in the case of certain other professionals. The moral of the story is that it is very much advisable only to join existing profit-making and dividend-paying companies. If they are a zero debt company, you are very safe. In fact, you should always choose such companies for your career. Imagine for a moment, the very high profit making companies of the Aditya Birla group. While other groups have fallen by the wayside and are deep in debts, this group has grown from strength to strength only because it always believed in building a good amount of core competencies in every business. For example, today, it is a force to reckon with, in the Mutual Fund industry and also in the private sector life insurance industry.

Empire building and related ego hassles

If by chance or by design you happen to head a particular department and are given a good role. never ever fall into the trap of empire building. Yes, you would have a huge amount of ego satisfaction. It might be that you have one good Godfather up there. However, if this Godfather goes elsewhere or is even dead and gone, you might face the stick through someone who was just waiting to take revenge. This always happens when you throw your weight around and start thinking that you can get away with anything. Corporate work life is not that simple. There could be many would lye low only for the time being. They will bounce back to action when they realize that the time is ripe for them to attack. Many corporate environments have a warlike situation at most times. Never fall into this trap. Many a career has been spoiled only because of ego hassles.

Being very happy with comfort zones

This is another issue. When you are 45, the tendency is to take it easy. Enjoy all the movies and shopping at malls. Take out your family for regular vacations. Fine. You can do all this and more only if you are able to concentrate on competency building like never before. You are very safe with some comfort zone and tend to relax, that would be the starting point of your downfall. You will positively start going downhill and when the decline starts, you may not be prepared for any change at all. This is a dangerous tendency and should be avoided. Come out of this comfort zone mindset very quickly and embrace change.

Challenging Management after success in crucial roles

In a particular Foundry, one highly successful General Manager, who headed the production department, function. continuously brought down the cost of production. The breakdowns became very less. The maintenance aspects were perfectly streamlined. Since he prove a big point or two to the Management, he was always considered a big boss. Very soon, the "I" factor ruined him. He would come to the plant with a couple of his cronies at 1 PM and check whatever was right or wrong. His cronies were empowered to ask questions. The Management did not like this high handed attitude at midnight. When things became unbearable, he was given a mild warning. However, in one crucial meeting on expansion plans, he boasted that he could things get things done with only his core team and that others were absolutely useless. He challenged the CMD to even think of anyone else who could achieve what he did!!

Well, within 24 hours, he was re-designated General Manager ( Projects) and was made to report to someone in the Corporate Office. His powers were withdrawn. He was given useless fellows who were outright useless. Such arrogant attitudes can ruin your career and have no place in family-managed companies.

Getting into dead-end jobs and activity traps

When your responsibilities do not increase at all, and you get to do only the most routine jobs, you are in a dead-end job. There is absolutely no value addition. Sometimes you would tend to fall for the trap due to family reasons. However, you will do well to quit and then look around for jobs where your responsibilities will add value. This is quite easily possible if you look around and identify the right slots. Never compromise your future in such dead-end jobs.


Based on a huge number of real-world events and twists and turns, some common mistakes in mid-career stages have been discussed above. These are only indicative and not exhaustive. However, one should be careful to not do such mistakes.

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Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao02 Apr 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 3

A mistake done in the mid-career stage will make a lot of difference. So one should be very careful and think twice before making a move. Love your job but not your company. Once we joined in a company we need not worry about the other aspects of the company and we should do what we are supposed to do. That will make you happy and gives a feeling to you that you are not taking money for free from the company. If you are not liking the environs there and problems there you may have to make a change but your move should not be from Pan to Stove. Even though you feel you are doing a good job you need not boast yourself always. Wherever you have to express your success you should be always within your boundaries. We can't take it granted that we will be there forever. Any moment we may have to go away. This point should be there always in our mind.

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