The 8 Worst Things Good Employees Do
Most of us like to think of ourselves as good employees. We show up for work on time, do our jobs to the best of our abilities, are team players, and put in more than enough hours. But, even good employees can commit career sins — and most of the time we don't even know we're doing it. (See also: 12 Reasons You Deserve to Get Fired)
Read on to learn the eight worst things good employees do.
1. Buckle Under Pressure
Some jobs are super high stress — and that can take a toll on an employee after an extended period of time. But as a professional, it's your duty to take these situations in stride and weather the storm to the best of your ability. The last thing you want to do is send the impression that you're just not cut out for your position.
"There are times when the environment of the workplace, company culture, or pressure from coworkers, peers, and upper management may influence [good employees] to act outside of their normal behavioral pattern," says Michael Lan, senior resume consultant at Resume Writer Direct. "Being pressured to meet a quota within a certain deadline, or accomplishing a number of set goals and tasks increases an employee's stress level. Some employees will consequentially buckle under this pressure and make questionable or 'bad' decisions in order to keep up with demands."
You should always strive to handle yourself with poise, but if you think your work demands are consistently unreasonable, schedule a meeting with your boss to discuss.
2. Make Too Many Excuses or Apologize Too Much
"Over-justifying or over-communicating why something isn't ready is a horrible habit I've seen employees fall into," explains Michelle Brammer, marketing manager for eZanga. "When employees over-justify or give too much communication as to why a task isn't complete, I'm left questioning their judgment or dedication to their job."
As a result, Brammer says, the barrage of apologies may come off like you can't manage multiple tasks or responsibilities — and that's never a good look. Instead, simply reaffirm your commitment to completing the over-due task ASAP and deliver. If there's something meaningful preventing you from timely completion, by all means do discuss it with your boss.
3. Blend Into the Crowd
Know what happens to the rank-and-file? They get lost in a sea of nobodies just doing their jobs. Is that who you want to be? Let's hope not.
"Between being a showy braggart and muffling your hard work, there's a comfortable middle road that you must find in order to claim the benefits of your labor," offers Constance Dunn, communication and manners expert and author of Practical Glamour: Presenting Your Most Beautiful & Polished Self. "Otherwise, you might find yourself plodding about in the same role, year after year, while others — perhaps less talented others — sprint ahead with promotions and raises."
In an effort to avoid this trap, Dunn suggests making it your business to socially congregate with co-workers, even if it's standing around the coffee machine or going for a coffee run with the pack.
"Don't wait for them to ask you what you're working on; go ahead and offer interesting tidbits about your current projects in a conversational way," she says. "This is one strategy to increase your visibility and communicate your competency in the workplace."
4. Rest on Their Laurels
Becoming a sheep is one thing, but giving up on career advancement altogether is a whole other ballgame — and one in which you ought not be participating. You don't want to be just a good employee; you should get up every morning to be the best employee. That's the only way you'll see the kind of promotion you dream of — but you have to work for it.
"The worst things good employees do is to not tactfully push to advance their careers," says David T. Waring, editor of FitSmallBusiness. "Often times good employees trust that good work will be rewarded automatically. Especially in larger companies, this is not always the case, and often times it's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. While good employees do not want to turn into whiners, making sure that you keep yourself top of mind with those that have the power to advance your career is simply good business."
5. Allow a Lack of Self-Confidence to Hinder Success
Ever had an idea in a meeting, but were too afraid to lay it out there for fear of sounding stupid or getting that condescending "Really?" look from the boss? I have, so I feel your pain. But keeping mum on a creative or productive idea is never going to help your cause — ever.
Jason M. Schulz, benefits consultant and retired U.S. Army Captain, agrees.
"[Some employees are] afraid to speak up when appropriate to do so for fear that they will be ostracized, but then complain later around the water cooler," he says. "Truth is, most of those employees that think their idea is great when they hear it at the water cooler, really want them to voice their opinion when asked by the boss. And managers aren't just asking for ideas for their health; they genuinely want to see things from the workers' perspective."
I quit a job because I was being micromanaged; it's bad news for a control freak like me (who also has a tendency to micromanage; I'll admit it). The people with whom you work don't like it either — trust me. So if you have a propensity to be this kind of pest — yes, I said a pest — stop it immediately.
John J. Brady, executive director and principal of Protem Partners, reminds us that if you can't identify the micromanager in the office, it might just be you.
"Most micromanagers do not realize that this label applies to them. They get great feedback as they hold themselves and members of their team to a very high level," he says. "The problem is, they fear anything less than perfection will hurt their hard-earned credibility, and their very image of perfection gets distorted such that they fail to see the inefficiencies they create and, in most cases, the errors they create by sending a message that only they are competent. Dysfunction and burnout are the usual results."
7. Work More Than They Contribute
Brady also details the fine line between working and contributing — two very different things — that could be holding you back.
"Many employees feel insecure about their station at work and, as such, never take vacations, send emails at crazy hours and, in an effort to make sure their commitment is known, talk about it [incessantly]," he says. "Every major study shows that quality and productivity falls after a certain number of hours and without proper breaks from work. The result is that they do good work instead of great work, and they come off as a martyr to management and to colleagues. It doesn't help their career, let alone anyone else's, and isolation is a frequent result."
The takeaway? Relax, boo, you got this. Strive for success, but not too hard, and enjoy a day (maybe a week even) to yourself once in a while.
8. Fail to Think About the Boss's Objectives
Most of us are so busy at work concentrating on our own tasks that we don't give a second thought to what may be on other people's plates, particularly the boss's. It's in your best interest to squash this bad habit today.
"Many excellent employees get nothing but stellar feedback, but wonder why they never get promoted," Brady explains. "At a minimum, you need to think about the business from at least one level up, and then frame your work to fit that set of objectives. Doing a great job at one level doesn't lead management to presume you could excel at the next level, unless you are consistently showing that you know how your current work fits into a larger framework."
Something to consider the next time you're up for review.
Are any of these habits yours? Or are there other worst things you've seen your good coworkers do?
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