Bad work habits to avoid

Seeking employment is far more involved than ever before. There is a lot of competition for jobs, so it’s essential that potential employees set themselves apart from other applicants. If you have put the effort into securing a position within a company, congratulations, you have obviously done something right. In anticipation of your start-date, keep in mind the qualities that your new employer recognized in you. Of all the interviewees, you were chosen. When you begin working at your position, stay focused, take good care of yourself (self-care is essential) and be open to new experiences. Self-awareness is one key to success in any position. Once an employee, here are 10 distinct behaviors to avoid:

  • Not producing the proper quality work

Since there is so much competition for employment, it is important than an employee produce quality work. Employees should be as productive as possible and should focus on what’s expected of you. Be aware of how you are spending your time. Are you: on your phone when you should not be, taking unapproved breaks including cigarette breaks or leaving unfinished projects? If you are genuinely struggling with completing assigned tasks, it is important to speak with your manager or supervisor. Communication is the key to a successful employee/employer relationship.


  • Exhibiting a negative attitude


A negative attitude can be toxic especially if it travels around and infects other employees. Even if you feel negative on the inside, it’s important to stay positive on the outside. Again, self-awareness can be a valuable tool for your personal and professional life.

  • Not a team player or difficult to work with

Each company has a mission and it is up to employees to work together to accomplish common goals. Not being a team player can be as simple as taking credit for work that you didn’t complete alone or as counterproductive as being difficult to work with.


  • Poor attendance


You have to show up to work. Life circumstances can sometimes interfere with your ability to make it into work, but repeatedly missing shifts or professional obligations is unacceptable.  


  • Abilities do not match according to resume


Lying on your resume can result in being inefficient at the job that you were hired for. Be honest on your employee paperwork including your resume and cover letter so that you can be confident in your skills


  • Immature attitude; not taking constructive input well


It is not easy to hear something negative about ourselves. Employers must be able to effectively communicate with their employees. Remember that managers/supervisors have the company’s mission in mind when evaluating your work competence. Instead of taking the constructive criticism personally, try to write down a few areas where you can improve. Getting angry is a sign of an immature attitude and employers will only tolerate such actions for so long. Focus on how to make yourself a more efficient and effective employee.


  • Disrespecting shared space at work


Keep your workstation clean. Keep the common areas neat, too. Remember that everyone on your team is held to the same standards. Be aware of your impact. This means do not leave your personal belongings in common areas; keep your food and beverages in approved areas only; maintain personal hygiene; and take initiative and clean-up after an employee if necessary.

  • Gossiping; Orchestrating drama

As an employee, you are responsible for producing the work in which you were hired to complete. Gossiping and orchestrating drama between employees or between employers/employees is distracting.


  • Not accepting responsibility for mistakes


If you make a mistake, acknowledge the mistake. Listen to the input your supervisor offers to you. If you firmly believe you have not made a mistake, it is best to not be confrontational. Ask your manager if you could have some time to think about the issue and get back to them when you feel more prepared to cope with the discussion.


  • Complaining and whining


Most seasoned workers will tell you that acceptance is the first step in remaining positive in a tough situation. Complaining is wearing not just on those around you, but also on your own optimism. Whining is not a characteristic of a highly-successful person. The time and energy spent protesting, could be put back into your work duties. Ultimately, you’ll feel better when you’ve persevered and done the work.  

According to Joe Jones, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, and director of Human Resource Competencies and Resources Research, in his article “How to Stop Bad Habits and Start Good Ones,” published in the Society for Human Resource Management, here is a suggested approach to reshaping habits:

  1. Study the “enemy.” What bad habits are getting in the way, keeping you from forming new, better habits?
  2. Write down your bad habits and the conditions that trigger them. How automatically do they form?
  3. Create a plan for change. What is the current state of your habits? What is your ideal state? That is, which habits do you want to make routine? How do you plan to get to that state? What are the barriers to and catalysts for getting there?
  4. Adjust your plan to be manageable and scalable.
  5. Understand the rewards and risks of your habits, and document them. Post the list somewhere visible as a reminder of the pros and cons.
  6. Make public your intentions to eliminate bad habits and create good habits. Enlist a friend to hold you accountable for following your plan.
  7. Establish a check-in schedule to see if a desired new habit has stuck. How often will you monitor your progress—every week, every month, after one year?
  8. Reward yourself for good behavior. But don’t expect your behavior to change just by rewarding yourself.

Jones states that “the better we get at eliminating undesirable habits and forming good habits, the more easily we can master our competencies.”

Keep in mind that many industries are highly competitive and employers are seeking the highest caliber employees. Remember, too, that your employer wants you to succeed.