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The 10 Bad Habits That Hinder Professional Growth

Posted on 6/21/11 9:30 AM

We all have habits that hinder various aspects of our lives.  When those habits begin to hinder our performance or reputation at work it’s time to make a serious effort towards breaking them.  What are the Top Ten Bad Work Habits?

#10 – Drama Queen (or King)

Office gossip is common, and sometimes having a grasp on what's going on can beBad Workplace Habits beneficial, but you shouldn't spend more time masterminding office warfare than you do working.

Getting caught up in workplace controversy might sometimes be unavoidable, but if you're the one instigating the drama, you're earning a bad reputation. You’ll soon be known as the person who starts trouble and whom no one can trust.

#9 – Company Disloyalty

With blogs, Facebook, Twitter and various other forms of social media, you have plenty of opportunity to publicly vent your frustration with life. Keep the rants about how much you hate your job private.

The Internet is public domain and comments quickly make their way to people you never intended to ‘share’ with. If you wouldn't stand in the middle of the office and scream that you are ready you are to quit, don't express those same thoughts online.

#8 – Knowing it All (and telling everyone)

Your spirited personality is appreciated, but try not to be the person in the meeting who always has a better idea and feels the need to explain why everyone else's idea is dumb.

Expressing an opposing opinion can spark a productive debate, but too much negativity grates on nerves and makes people dread hearing your voice. Continue to be a critical thinker, but make sure you have the best interest of the company in mind and not your own agenda.

#7 – Inflexibility

Sometimes the working world just isn’t fair.  You may have been hired to do a particular job, but if your supervisor comes to you with a new project that's outside the parameters of your usual duties, it's still yours to do.  Replying, “That’s not my job, man” isn’t going to be viewed as funny as it is (was) on TV.

#6 - Always running late

If you're constantly late to work, to meetings and with projects, your supervisor and co-workers will perceive you as unreliable. When it's time for a promotion or to deal with an important client, you may not be given the opportunity. You don’t want to be seen as the person who can't manage his or her time?

#5 – Being anti-social

Work isn’t ALL work.  There are the occasional dinners or ‘gatherings’ after work.  Refusing to attend could hurt your “image”.

You don't need to be the ‘life of the party’ (that may actually be another bad habit to break), but being personable with co-workers helps build camaraderie. Take the opportunity to get to know people better and they’ll get to know you as more than just someone they pass in the halls.

#4 - Taking advantage of flexibility

If you’re occasionally 5 minutes late because of traffic or need to leave 15 minutes early for an appointment, chances are your supervisor will understand.  However, if that 5 minutes turns into 15 or 20 minutes and it’s every day, most likely it will become an issue.

This also applies to dress codes. Business casual is up to interpretation, but ripped jeans and concert tees probably don't fall under your company's guidelines.  Often times when ‘flexibility’ gets taken advantage of, very strict policies are implemented in reaction.

#3 - Confusing informal with disrespectful

In many organizations the boss might be the decision maker, but he or she isn't the stern, humorless caricature often depicted on TV. Using your supervisor's first name and chatting socially isn’t uncommon.  However, he or she is still the boss -- the one who can fire you and tell you what to do. Don't cross the line by talking to him or her as if you're talking with your personal friend. You should show respect for their authority.

#2 – Sloppy emailing

E-mails are second nature to most people these days.  However, it is still a form of professional business communication.  Resist the urge to take short cuts by forgoing a salutation or abbreviating words or using “text” jargon.  Also, don’t send that message without proofreading it and double-checking the recipients. 

If you haven't done it yet, the day will soon come when you accidentally "reply to all" to an e-mail and a slew of unintended readers receive a silly note you only intended your co-worker to read.

And the number #1 bad work habit is…


Putting tasks off until the last minute is never a good idea, even if you feel you work best under pressure or enjoy the ‘challenge’.  When you leave yourself no wiggle room to complete a task, you run the risk of encountering an unexpected obstacle that makes you miss the deadline or present an inferior product.  Plan ahead, prepare and tackle that task in a timely manner.

Admitting that you have a bad habit is the first step in breaking it.  All kidding aside, if any of the above descriptions hit close to home for you, simply being aware of your behavior in those situations will elicit a change in your actions and reactions.  For example, if you are always scrambling to complete an assignment or project at the last minute, you may be a procrastinator.  To break this bad habit, acknowledge you have an issue in this area and set a plan in action to change.  Such as, when you receive an assignment or project, create a list of the tasks required to complete the final product.  Assign yourself ‘mini-deadlines’ for each task.  As you complete each task cross them off your list.  This will give you a sense of accomplishment and motivate you to continue.  Soon you will be meeting deadlines stress (and scramble) free.

The bottom line is that it is always beneficial to evaluate your own behavior and assess how it is perceived by others.  Then examine what affect that perception may have on your career.

Written by Claire Gibbons, Director of Human Resources


Topics: Loss Prevention program and development

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