Let’s face it: we all have bad workplace habits. In some cases, we may not even be aware that we’re annoying our coworkers. However, it’s worth the effort to keep yourself in check. After all, everyone shares the same (sometimes cramped) office and stressful work, and the actions of one can affect the entire culture. And I’m not just talking about gum-popping or colleagues who never wash their own dishes.
Here are 12 are bad habits that I’ve experienced with a number of employees over the years. In some cases, these behaviors cost them their job. The first step to solving these habits is realizing you have them, so read on.
If there’s one thing that plummets your reputation quickly, it’s complaining. We all have more work than we can do, we’ve all been working late, and no, the project may not be “part of your job” but I don’t care. Be solution-oriented, roll up your sleeves, and contribute meaningfully to the workplace.
2. Lack of punctuality.
The occasional terrible commute or an alarm that didn’t go off is a legitimate reason for being late. What’s not ok is consistently rolling in 15 to 30 minutes after everyone else has started a productive day. The same goes for meetings. Be on time. It’s that simple.
3. Skipping out early.
The end of the day is no different than the start. Chances are, your boss is paying you for an eight-hour day and expects you to be present.
4. Not owning up.
Listen, we’re all doing the best we can, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t going to make mistakes at some point or another. Just don’t play the blame game. Worse, don’t try to hide the mistake, thinking your boss won’t find out. The best way to handle this situation is to be direct and apologetic, and to bring a solution that will help prevent it from happening again.
5. Not asking questions.
Whether you’re unsure what’s being asked of you on a specific project, or don’t know how to use a certain piece of equipment, speak up. That old saying, “There’s no such thing as a stupid question” is true. Seek clarity to avoid wasted time and disappointing results.
6. Not accepting assistance.
Hoarding work or refusing to let go of something sends the message that you’re not a team player. What’s important is that the work gets done, and if people are offering to assist, it’s probably because you look like you need it.
7. Conducting personal business at work.
While the occasional personal appointment or call is perfectly fine, trawling through Instagram or shopping on Amazon is akin to stealing. Because, as noted in points 2 and 3, your company expects you in the office and working. Don't be in the office doing your own unnecessary online shopping.
8. Lack of enthusiasm.
Everyone has days where they feel less than motivated. But if you are consistently sullen and withdrawn, it will show in your work product and in how others perceive you. As hard as it might be sometimes, try proactively looking for something you can get excited about. Your boss will appreciate your eagerness to take on new things.
9. Badmouthing the company, a coworker or your boss.
Just don’t. It will always come back around. That doesn’t mean you have to like everyone, but you do need to get along with them.
10. Lack of follow-through.
If you promise to meet a deadline, keep it. If for some reason you need an extension, let people know in advance rather than after the fact.
11. Having a potty mouth.
In some businesses, cursing is severely frowned upon. For most, though, the occasional “bad word” is acceptable. However, if your stories and observations are sprinkled with four-letter words, it sends the message that you are not only an unprofessional communicator, but that you aren’t self-aware enough to know that kind of language may be offensive to your colleagues. Get out the dictionary and find new ways to express yourself.
12. Lack of focus.
Most of us are accustomed to multi-tasking. But if you’re checking your phone or working on something else during a meeting, it’s not only rude, it shows your colleagues you don’t care.
Tiffany Couch is the CEO and founder of Acuity Forensics, a forensic accounting and fraud investigation firm that helps unravel complex financial crimes.