Your Behavior at Work Matters More Than You Realize — Here's Why

woman checking her phone while sitting at her desk at work

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Heather K Adams
Heather K Adams733
Content + Copy Writer
How we act tells the people around us a lot about who we are, so your behaviors are what build your reputation. Nowhere is this more obvious and more important than in the workplace. Your work behavior plays a huge role in communicating to your employer and coworkers just what your worth is as an employee.

What are employee behaviors?

Your employee or work behavior is how you act when you're at work, the tendencies you display and communicate. Are you lazy or productive? Team-oriented or more of a lone wolf? How you behave when you're on the clock is a sign of your professionalism (or lack thereof). You can tell people how smart you are when it comes to learning a new program or how good you are at sales all day long. But saying and doing are two very different things. Your actions are what really form your reputation.
When it comes to work behavior, displaying consistent positive characteristics is the way to build a good reputation as a solid employee. This works in your favor in two ways. First, by showing that you are a responsible, consistent, pleasant and hard-working individual, you're demonstrating to your employer and coworkers that you're a valuable member of the office, team or company. This value will put you in good standing when it comes time for raises, promotions or even letters of recommendation later in your career. Second, good work or employee behaviors also communicate that you respect your employer and your position within their company. You'll be showing them that you value them.

What is disrespectful behavior in the workplace?

A lack of respect for your workplace, your position or even your coworkers does no one any good. It weakens your position by giving you a low-value reputation, making an employer eventually start to wonder what she's keeping you around for. This can be a difficult reputation to counter and remake should you want to advance within the company. Specific disrespectful actions include:

• Having your cell phone glued to your hand. 

Texting, scrolling, Tweeting: Always being on your phone tells everyone around you that you've simply checked out.

• Absenteeism. 

Overusing your sick leave (i.e. faking illnesses to dodge work) leaves your boss struggling to fill your shifts and your coworkers hustling to cover the work you were supposed to do.

• Coming in late or ducking out early. 

Like calling in sick, not showing up for work or cutting out early is a clear sign you're simply not invested in this position. You also don't care if it causes your coworkers or employer added trouble.

• Being the office grouch. 

While none of us can be expected to be Pollyanna every day, being consistently negative or in a poor mood will foul up any work environment in a hurry. Proper, respectful work behavior includes maintaining a civil demeanor no matter how bad your morning was.

• Socializing more than you work. 

A quick chat around the water cooler is one thing, but spending most of your days passing the time in non-work related conversation is just disrespectful.

What are appropriate workplace behaviors?

On the flip side are appropriate work behaviors, those actions and attitudes which tell everyone around you, "I'm here to work, to be a team player and to get things done." Not only will your coworkers appreciate working with such a motivated individual, but your employer is also bound to take note, too. Anyone actually looking to build a career and a good professional reputation should make a point of always being aware of their work behaviors and what they say to everyone around them. Appropriate behaviors are:

• Timeliness. 

Showing up on time and getting work done in a timely fashion show you respect both your work and for whom you do it. Timeliness is a building block of any good professional reputation.

• Actively participating. 

Asking thoughtful questions in meetings, contributing to groups projects and/or approaching your boss with ideas and suggestions show that you're invested in where you are and what you're doing. It shows you care.

• Having a positive attitude

Even when you're feeling off, people around you will know that you won't take it out on them or customers. We all get in our heads about things sometimes, but good work behavior includes being able to separate our personal issues from our professional life as much as possible.

• Showing customer service skills. 

Like maintaining a civil demeanor with your coworkers, making a point of practicing good customer service skills is another key part of good work behavior. Soft skills, like the art of chatting with customers (or anyone), are no less important to your career than any of the harder skills.

• Being a team player. 

This means you don't take credit for work you didn't do, and you make a point of trying to share the limelight when you receive praise. Being a team leader and taking the initiative in projects will also get you noticed in a positive way.

Tips for modeling good work behavior.

• Be professional. 

Always remember that you're at a place of business. Your professional persona should be friendly but not too familiar and focused on doing a good job. Doing solid work with a pleasant attitude is the best way to model good work behavior to others.

• Communicate your standards. 

This can be done verbally and non-verbally. If a group of coworkers is deep into a gossip session and tries to get you to join, for example, decline politely. And then make a point of being equally polite and inclusive to everyone in the office. Treating all your fellow coworkers the same way is one way to communicate that you won't participate in negative or toxic behaviors.

• Hold yourself accountable. 

If you say you'll have a report ready by the end of the day, have it ready. If a meeting you're leading is set to begin at two o'clock, don't get there at a quarter after two. This good work behavior will set a standard for those around you and could play a part in making accountability an office-wide habit.

• Handle the bad work behaviors of others like a pro. 

Deal with someone not behaving well in ways that aren't aggressive or counter-productive. Model good behavior by keeping your cool and working through the situation. Learn how to have discussions that lead to resolutions rather than arguments. Setting that calm and professional tone is a boss way to model good work behavior in your office (even if you aren't actually the boss).

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