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Top 10 Career-Ending Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Guest Author Blog by Suzanne Bates, is an executive coach and author of best-selling business books, “Speak Like A CEO,”“Motivate Like A CEO,”and coming this fall, "Discover Your CEO Brand"

The latest unemployment numbers are in, and the news is not good. Roughly 9% of Americans who want to go to work can’t find an employer. Companies may be firing fewer people, but hiring remains anemic, growth seems to be flagging, and let’s face it: there’s no clear light at the end of the tunnel.

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That said, there’s no shortage of people waiting to take your job, so developing and maintaining a good relationship with your boss is more important than ever.

It can determine your future as an employee.

We all make mistakes with the boss, and some missteps can leave a pretty healthy scar.

There’s only one thing to do when you put your foot in your mouth, mess up, fail to communicate, or send a message you never intended: apologize and learn.

Having had a few of my own foot-in-mouth moments, I share with you the top ten faux pas that can derail you with your CEO or boss.

#10: Send your boss more than one email in a row (especially about a low priority issue). It makes the boss wonder if you know how to prioritize.

#9: Show up to a 20 minute meeting with a 20 minute presentation. You will get through 2 minutes of it before you are interrupted anyway. People like to have a dialogue, not be talked at (your brilliance will not be obvious.)

#8: Keeping your boss waiting. Do I need to say it? Early is on time, on time is late, and late is career suicide.

#7: Fail to ascertain what “as soon as possible” means to your boss. In my experience, it rarely means “when you get around to it.”

#6: Walk in for a one-on-one update meeting with your boss without a written agenda. You will inevitably go into detail about the wrong things. A written agenda is best, and best shared. It shows you’re organized and respect other people’s time.

#5: Be less than lightning fast on the hand-off when your boss lobs it over to you. You’re expected to communicate with others and get back without being prompted.

#4: Having nothing to say in one-on-one situations with your boss. Learn the art of small talk and be prepared with some news about how much you’re enjoying a project, or what progress you’re making on an important issue. Don’t miss these opportunities to connect and impress.

#3: Long, wandering communications of any kind. Years ago, a CEO told me if it’s more than one page, he sends it back to the employee without reading it. If you must send a longer document, provide a one page executive summary, and make it good.

#2: Wasting time up front in a business meeting on small talk. Most CEOs and leaders prefer their small talk AFTER business is done. There are exceptions, but 95% want to exchange very brief pleasantries before getting down to business. If it goes well, you’ll have time and permission to shoot the breeze.

#1: Failure to communicate well and show respect to direct reports, your own team, or God-forbid, customers, prospects, shareholders, directors and stakeholders. These will be duly noted. Be consistent. Treat them the same way. Get back to everyone promptly, show respect, be clear, concise and thoughtful in your communications.

Suzanne Bates, is an executive coach, author, Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and former award-winning news anchor, reporter and author of best-selling business books, “Speak Like A CEO,” “Motivate Like A CEO,” and “Discover Your CEO Brand,” (to be released in Fall, 2011.)

Email me at bullishonbooks@cnbc.comAnd follow me on Twitter @BullishonBooks

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