How can employees avoid the immaturity that often damages their reputation and ruins career opportunities?
Why do we need to discuss maturity at work?
Maturity at work is essential to demonstrating your value to the organization. It can help earn the respect of co-workers, strengthen teamwork, build better customer relations, and garner support for further career advancement.
However, despite the apparent advantages of mature behavior at work, immaturity is still a common problem in the workplace.
What drives immature behavior in the workplace?
An employee may utilize one or two mature, appropriate responses to a particular workplace or customer problem. Accordingly, if these approaches work, they will be applied to similar situations in the future.
However, if these responses fail to solve the problem, the employee may try a less mature behavior instead. If this immature behavior appears to solve the problem, he/she will most likely use it again.
In short, people do what works for them, even if the response only worked once, and despite its long-term effects.
If your objective is career advancement, you need to find and adopt behaviors and practices that produce the best overall work outcomes, both for you and the business. When you do, you establish a mature pattern of problem-solving skills, which will likely support your career goals.
How to demonstrate maturity at work
While serving as an HR Director, I spent several years conducting employee development seminars. I discovered that if you refer to something participants accept as a fact, they will likely assume it applies favorably to themselves even if their behavior contradicts their assumption.
For example, a 38-year-old employee with 15 years of experience exhibits several immature behaviors on the job. However, he assumes that he is a mature employee because of his experience.
I would challenge that assumption and others. The following is a sample of questions I have used to help employees consider whether they demonstrate maturity at work.
Would your co-workers and managers say that you —
- Respond positively or negatively when an employer criticizes you?
- Respect and follow the chain of command in your workplace?
- Follow all work rules, regulations, and procedures?
- Walk away before getting into an argument with another employee?
- Have a reputation as a “complainer” at work?
- Refuse to participate in gossip at work?
- Maintain a positive attitude at work, even when you’re not in the mood, or if things are going wrong in your personal life?
- Respect the organization’s property and equipment?
- Arrive on time for work every day?
- Follow instructions and complete assignments on time?
- Have a reputation for reliability?
- Maintain a reputation for being honest, truthful, and trustworthy?
Maturity at work and career success?
Demonstrating maturity is not about age or tenure — it is about behavior. In fact, it only takes one immature behavior, used consistently in response to work-related situations, for co-workers and managers to label an employee as a “problem.”
Undoubtedly, decision-makers do not want to promote a “problem” employee. They would prefer to advance individuals who will solve rather than create problems. In other words, immaturity at work can be a “career killer.”
As employees seek career advancement, I encourage them to assess their behavior and make adjustments necessary to demonstrate maturity at work. Those who do will build a reputation that any employer would want to support and advance.