Take Risks to Advance Your Career


Risk taking is imperative for success in the high tech workplace.

Risk taking involves making decisions and acting without adequate information required to fully assess the outcomes.

Unfortunately, you as a foreign born professional, may not be comfortable with taking action when you cannot predict consequences with any certainty. So you may hesitate or seek more data in an environment where quick decisions are the norm.

However, appearing overly cautious may derail your career.

Here, we discuss the common attitudes towards risk taking prevalent in the American workplace. This will help you understand that failure is not fatal to your career.

We also offer four strategies to help you modify your attitudes and behavior towards taking risks.

These four strategies will enable you to emulate American norms so you will be viewed as a team player and potential leader.

American Attitudes Towards Risk Taking

Americans see risk as a commonplace feature at work, especially in high tech settings. So taking risks is considered normal and expected – not aberrant behavior.

This perspective leads to a relatively casual attitude toward risk. Americans don’t waste time worrying about trying to avoid risks.

Americans also have a sympathetic view of making mistakes.

Mistakes are inherent in risk taking. Since high tech companies encourage high risk experimentation, they also tolerate mistakes.

Your colleagues are not blamed for mistakes unless their particular mistake was completely avoidable or they make the same mistake repeatedly.

Another aspect of American culture that leads to a tolerance for mistakes is preference for action and impatience with “over thinking.”

Of course, in high tech, professionals rely on various decision making tools to help them manage and minimize risk.

But, in general, American can get annoyed with too much analysis.

They like to “cut to the chase,” so they can get to the exciting part of their work faster: execution and implementation.

Given these casual attitudes toward risk taking, Americans tend to look down on those who fear taking risks and making mistakes.

Assuming that there is almost never any legitimate reason to fear risks, Americans conclude that such colleagues are timid, weak, and overly cautious.

And being viewed as timid, weak, and overly cautious can kill your career. Not mistakes.

Don’t forget you are in a setting where your co-workers are often dismissive of strategies to minimize risks. These include asking for more research, more study reviews, and more discussion.

Four Strategies to Help You Take Risks

So what can you do? You now understand that taking risks is critical to advancing your career. But how do you overcome your hesitance to make mistakes?

Try these four key strategies.

These strategies will help you to make small comfortable adjustments so you meet the expectations for risk taking at work.

  1. Don’t say you are satisfied with the way things are. Americans firmly believe that everything can always be better.

  2. View risk taking as getting valuable data from trial and error.You don’t have to be 100 percent certain to act.Remember that you will be admired for trying, even if you don’t succeed.

  3. Monitor how you discuss risk taking issues. Aim for a neutral tone. Don’t sound worried.Otherwise, American-born colleagues may interpret your caution as being defeatist.

  4. Pay attention not only to the words but also the attitudes of your colleagues.Be sensitive to possible negative reactions if you propose waiting for more analysis.

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