Do you ever find yourself wondering why it is that a colleague seems to get more attention from the boss, more enthusiasm for their ideas, and maybe even more promotions and salary bumps than you do? Perhaps there are problems you’re not even aware of, bad habits getting in the way of your success at work. Here are a few key bad habits that slow down professional progress, and some tips for overcoming them.
1) You work too much. Employers today are keenly aware of quality, not just the quantity of hours their employees put in. You might think that staying 14 hours at your desk makes you look dedicated, but in fact, it might be making you look disorganized and unfocused. Employers want staff who work smart, not steadily, at least not habitually. Putting in a late-night is fine once in a while if you’re on a tight deadline, but doing it regularly implies that you can’t focus properly and are wasting precious time.
2) You bring in your personal life. Has your boss caught you, even once, scrolling through your Facebook account at work? If so, you can be sure they made a mental note of it. Using your phone and computer for anything other than work duties (or a home emergency) is frowned upon at work today. Save those scrolls for your lunch hour or commute on the train.
3) Are you a complainer? Ask yourself, do you do lots of complaining about pay, or office politics, or vacation policies? Even worse — do you play office politics? Even if you do it out of the boss’s earshot, your complaints could get back to them, and that makes you sound like you’re not a team player. Any legitimate complaints should be taken up with your supervisor or human resources. And if those complaints can’t be solved, it might be time to move on.
4) Are your time management skills good? If you’re always rushing to finish projects while other employees come striding into meeting calm and organized, something is wrong with your time management skills. If you need extra time on a project because a client has changed the requirements at the last minute, ask for an extension before the meeting — don’t let staff arrive and then begin making excuses about why your work is not complete. It looks unprofessional and amateurish — two deadly qualities in a work environment.
5)Your perspective isn’t balanced. If you don’t like your job or your boss, you’ve got a big problem. No matter what, you must act professional and keep your feelings and opinions to yourself, especially if your boss is highly regarded by others. If there is a genuine personality clash that can’t be resolved with dialogue and mediation, it may well be time for a transfer, or a move to a whole new business entirely.
These are just a few bad habits that can interfere with realizing professional goals, like that promotion you’ve been hoping for. Check yourself, and be brutal! A self-assessment is required, and if you aren’t sure what your bad habits are, ask a mentor or colleague you respect to do the assessment for you. Once you realize the bad habits you’re exhibiting, get on with the business of fixing them. That’s the only way you’ll achieve satisfaction at work and keep climbing the professional ladder.