Bad habits in the work environment, where do I begin!? There are so many different aspects to this that I found it difficult only picking a handful to focus on. I’ve been in business for 30 years and in that time, I’ve met people from all walks of life. I’ve also come across a lot of bad habits in the workplace which certainly need changing. Here are five of the worst and most common bad habits I see in the office and why manifesting any of them could lead to a declining career path.
Lack Of Manners
- ‘Manners don’t cost a thing’ is the oldest saying in the book. It is universally acknowledged that please and thank you are both fundamental words in every country, in and out of the office environment.When your mum taught you not to forget your please and thank-you’s she was actually teaching you one of the most valuable lessons in life.
- You may not have known it at the time, but they are two words we use (or should be using) every single day. It’s funny how the simplest of things can make such an impact, especially at work. Nobody wants to employ or work with someone who is rude and disrespectful so forgetting your manners is one of the surest ways to lose your job.It’s a known fact that the basics get you a long way. If someone is abrupt and inconsiderate, you automatically feel distant and will remember them as someone you’d rather not work with again.
- Sometimes we’re in such a rush to finish a task or get something done that we forget the basics.For example, if you really need a colleague to help you with something the difference between saying ‘do this for me’ or ‘can you do this for me please?’ is huge and can cause so many problems if you get it wrong.
- To build good relationships at work you need to show and earn respect and the first step to doing this is being polite.Unfortunately, sometimes we take this for granted. I expect my staff to be polite to everyone because at the end of the day, we’re all people. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or you’re serving coffee; there’s no hierarchy when it comes to manners. Like mathematics, it’s the same in every country.
Over-promising And Under-delivering
This is a classic. Telling a client or a colleague you can deliver a project to a specific deadline than not delivering at all. Too many people get involved with what I call ‘noise’ at work. By this, I mean actions and ‘fluff’ that doesn’t actually lead to anything and which eventually, you drop because it ends up being a waste of time.
It is absolutely essential that you qualify your tasks to begin with and take a proper brief to avoid this because trust me, being unproductive and scatty at work will backfire. So many people offer false promises thinking that they will find a way to fulfill them – don’t be so naïve! Be honest. You absolutely need to manage expectations effectively because there’s nothing worse than feeling disappointed when a deadline isn’t met and not only will you look unprofessional, you’ll also seriously damage your reputation.
Lack Of Poker Face
We’ve all met or worked with someone who has no poker face. Someone who’s emotions are written all over their face; if they like you, it’s obvious, if they don’t like you, it’s obvious, if they’re indifferent, it’s obvious. Sometimes, we can’t hold back our natural instincts but if people feel uncomfortable speaking to you, then we have a problem. Relationships at work are all about communication and if you’re not able to communicate effectively with your team, your clients or your managers then how do you expect to do your job successfully?
If someone is discussing a task with you and your face screams ‘I DON’T CARE or I DON’T LIKE YOU’ do you really think they trust you to do a good job? Remember that people talk and if you make a habit of constantly looking morose and being unhelpful, it will get noticed. Some people may say ‘that’s not fair, I can’t help it’ but everybody has the ability to look engaged and interested. It’s called being professional and if you don’t take note, you could be one step closer to unemployment.
It may sound a little wishy-washy but anti-social behaviour or not making an effort to get involved with social events at work is an absolute no-no. Company culture is one of the most important components of every business. You spend the majority of your life at work, why not make it a fun place to be!? Every business I have invested in has one thing in common; they all understand that culture is at the core of success. If you’re a recluse at work and never attend social events or even converse with your colleagues socially, you could be at risk of losing your job.
Whenever I am recruiting a new member of staff, I will always introduce them to the team because I want to know if they fit in. Of course you need to have the skill to do the job but if it came down to two candidates; one who looked great on paper but who didn’t really gel with the team, and another who was completely competent, could do really well in the role and was a perfect fit for the team, who do you think I’d go for? It’s a no-brainer.
Being A Glass Half Empty Kind Of Person
Negativity is at the core of most bad habits. If one person is giving off a negative vibe, the whole office will feel it – that’s a fact. It brings the mood of the whole team down to the same level which will result in a lack of productivity and lack of ambition. Negativity in the office causes so many issues, so if you’re consistently whining or complaining about things it’s very likely you could find yourself in a position you don’t want to be in. Leave your negativity at the door because we don’t want to hear it! Your glass may be half empty but for now, ours is half full.
The same can be applied when resolving work issues. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; bring me solutions, not problems. Negative people have countless problems to express but never seem to have a solution and this is one of the most reoccurring and worst habits I see in the workplace. Remember, negativity breeds dissatisfaction and clutters the mind.
Each of these bad habits are easily avoided if you make sure you do not become complacent in your role. Keep yourself motivated and if you’re not happy with something, change it. Just don’t make it an issue for the whole team.
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In some of the older articles I have written, I have raised how recruiters take references from past employers.
Your behaviour in the workplace will obviously have an impact as to how your past employer will rate you. If you are currently employed and are exhibiting negative traits this too will impact on any growth or salary increases you may receive.
Attitude is vitally important in the workplace. So often, I will happily recruit someone purely based on attitude. Skill can be taught but attitude is a tough one.
Here are some areas that you can focus on in the workplace to be sure that you are not overlooked and that on departing the company, you can be guaranteed a good reference:
Meet The Deadlines Set For You
Unless you have a very valid reason that you can substantiate be sure to meet the deadlines as instructed. This shows you have the ability to manage your time smartly and that you take responsibility for assignments assigned to you. Missing a deadline can have a negative effect on many other players in the work place and put the company’s income at risk.
There is no harm in preferring to work solo but, at times you need to toe the line and work positively and co-operatively with your colleagues. Be a good listener and good communicator and enhance any team work for the benefit of the company for which you work.
There is nothing more discouraging and exhausting for employers than having someone in the work place with bucket loads of personal baggage. If you are daily spewing out stories about your unfortunate home life or woes, colleagues will eventually tire of you. We all have ‘stuff’ in our lives but it is important to know just how much to share. Never allow your personal baggage to interfere with the job at hand.
Manage Your Stress
Stress is a killer! Doctors are booking more and more people off due to stress than ever before. In fact, it is to be expected that in a number of years’ time, stress will be the most popular reason for absenteeism. In the workplace make an effort to handle your stress without beating up on a colleague or making copious errors. If you are feeling overwhelmed, rather take the time off and have a break. Everyone has periods of stress. You just need to manage it appropriately in the workplace.
Be happy to assist where you can. Try to solve problems before running to your superior. Rather run to your superior with possible solutions and not just the problem itself. Set new goals for yourself to avoid becoming too complacent. The more enthusiasm you show and the more you are willing to get involved with, the more valuable you will be to your employer.
By James Caan
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