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Four bad habits to ditch at work

  19th November 2018       Suzanne Sherriff MIRP
 Accounting & Finance, Engineering, Science & Space, Employment, Executive Search, Human Resources, IT & Software Solutions, Job Seeking Resources, Office & Commercial

Whether they show up at home or on the job, everyone has at least one bad habit. Those that keep creeping up at work, though, can actually derail your chances of success. These four bad habits probably won’t result in you being fired, but they will be noticed by both managers and colleagues, leaving you on the receiving end of snide comments. While you can’t please or be liked by everyone, you should make the effort to change your habits.

Always coming in late

Showing up late for work or a meeting doesn’t only affect you. When you’re late, that throws off the rest of the day’s scheduled meetings and tasks. It also shows a disregard for other people’s time, which is a sure way for coworkers to dislike you. Whether you intend for this subtle message to be communicated or not, frequent tardiness can be very damaging to others and to your reputation.

How to fix it: There are multiple reasons why you might be late. You need to work out what your reason is and fix it. If you’re late because you keep hitting the snooze button, set your alarm for earlier than usual. Maybe part of your routine is setting you back. Adjust that and make the necessary change. By putting in the effort to eradicate this bad habit, you’ll communicate that you do care about others.

Never having anything good to say

Do people avoid you because of your frequent negativity and bad attitude? This probably isn’t something that will get you fired, but it will become an issue before too long. When you consistently complain about your job or employer, or only point out the negative aspects of an idea, people will avoid you, because it sucks the life out of their day too.

How to fix it: You’re going to have issues at work, and it’s not always going to be hunky-dory. But rather than voicing your many, loud complaints, leave them at home. Express yourself to a friend or family member if needed. If they’re major concerns, then take them to your manager. You don’t, however, need to air those all over the office.

Indulging in gossip

Nothing can damage your reputation faster than trying to tear down someone’s character. Don’t lower yourself by talking badly about someone behind their back, or even to their face in front of an audience. This includes online or electronic communication too.

How to fix it: Consider how you would feel if someone was talking badly about you. Ask yourself if this is something worth discussing sensitively with this person directly, or if it’s just your opinion. If the latter, or the person is your manager, deal with it and move on.

Using improper communication

If your job requires you to communicate in any sort of electronic form (like most job these days), you need to be able to do so in a professional manner. This includes not only grammar but spelling and tone. When communicating professionally, do not write an informal email peppered with smiley faces and text message abbreviations. Even if you’re sharing an internal joke or arranging lunch with your colleagues, these bad habits can easily transfer into emails between you and managers or clients and suppliers.

How to fix it: Don’t allow yourself to slip into an informal way of communicating just because you and the recipient get on personally. Also pay attention to those red lines and do a little work brushing up on basic spelling and grammar rules.

If you need help in identifying your bad work habits, ask a trusted office friend or your boss; just make sure you’re able to accept the response. Put in the effort to fix your bad workplace habit and see how people respond. You—and your reputation—will be glad you did.

Suzanne Sherriff MIRP

Associate Director

Suzanne leads a team dealing with temporary jobs. Having started her recruitment career in 2005, she has over a decade of recruitment experience. Suzanne works across all of the agency’s core industries on temporary, contract and interim roles. She places a big emphasis on delivery and accountability and never gives …


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