8 Bad Work Habits Holding You Back in Your Career

Feeling like you're career is in a slump? Bad habits are the likely culprit. If you're motivated to do something about them, the following post from Kelly Kantrowitz provides actions you can take to overcome each one.

Benjamin Franklin famously said, “Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.” We all have some less-than-stellar work habits we’re guilty of falling into. By working to reverse these tendencies and develop better workplace habits, you’ll fuel your professional success and begin achieving the career goals you set out to accomplish. Rather than sabotaging your own career, here are 8 bad work habits you should focus on breaking.

“I’ll Do it Later…”

Hello, procrastination.

Everyone comes to a point in both their personal and professional lives where they’re dreading working on some undesirable or complex project. When procrastination starts to rear its ugly head on a chronic basis, however, it’ll negatively impact your productivity and, ultimately, your success in the workplace. So, how can you break the cycle and stop waiting till tomorrow?

First, envision how rewarding it’ll feel to attain your end goal by taking action now – namely, the enormous reduction in nail-biting anxiety. The easiest way to tackle your work is to organize your projects into a to-do list. Address the important tasks first and then break down your larger assignments into small, easy-to-digest tasks. By getting organized, you’ll find yourself giddy with joy each time you cross another item off your checklist.

Slacking on Your Professional Development

We all suffer from a bout of laziness every now and then. But, when it comes to learning, you should always be relentlessly pursuing opportunities to expand your knowledge and adopt new skills. Becoming complacent is taking the easy route, so if you find yourself drifting along or slacking, find new ways to challenge yourself. Whether you elect to take an online course, attend a conference or workshop, explore trending news in your field, or consult with a mentor, never stop trying to up your game.

Giving Your Network the Cold Shoulder

While neglecting your professional network surely isn’t meant to be intentional, it certainly isn’t a strategic move on your part. Even if you’re not actively hunting for a new job, engaging with your network via LinkedIn and interacting with former colleagues is a vital part of keeping your relationships strong. When you’re actively participating in conversations on social platforms and dropping little notes to say hello, it can be extremely advantageous down the road if you’re looking for a sales referral, advice, or a new job opportunity.

Complaining Without Making a Change

It’s no secret that all employees – and even managers – indulge in a little venting every once in a while. Whether it’s getting a frustration off your chest to a co-worker, making a fuss about process inefficiencies to your friends, or whining to your family about work, there’s no harm blowing off a little steam, but only if it’s followed by action. Otherwise, venting about the same issue over and over again is never going to instigate change. In fact, it winds up becoming counterproductive.

Real success and professional development comes when you formulate a course of action. If your manager keeps changing your metrics without telling anyone on your team, shoot him/her an email requesting a meeting to review your weekly, monthly, and quarterly targets. If one of your co-workers is negatively impacting the team’s workflow by failing to document project updates, pull that individual aside and have a conversation about it. Venting may feel good in the moment, but imagine how much better it will feel to actually resolve the issue causing your blood pressure to rise.

Refusing to Accept Coachable Moments

You could be a top-performing, extremely successful individual. You could even be Jeff Bezos for all I care. The point is, there is always room for learning and growth. Between digital disruption and our ever-evolving marketplace, staying ahead of the game requires soaking in all the new knowledge you possibly can. Being stubborn or harboring an “I don’t need help” mindset will only serve to limit your progress and success.

Receiving feedback and acting upon it is the perfect way to show your superiors that you’re invested in your own professional development. Regularly seeking feedback from your manager and viewing constructive criticism in a positive light demonstrates your adaptability – and this is an essential part of setting yourself up for a future promotion or leadership role.

Failing to Be a Team Player

If I received a nickel for each time I've heard someone say, “that’s not my job,” I’d be rolling in cash. When you neglect to collaborate or be a team player, it can truly hurt your career – especially when an issue arises that you need help with and everyone turns a blind eye. Boosting productivity and reaching new levels of success requires all team members to work harmoniously. After all, taking on new responsibilities or providing assistance on part of a project you wouldn’t normally touch will not only improve your skills in the workplace, but help you forge stronger relationships with colleagues.

Poor E-Mail Etiquette

Having sub-par e-mail etiquette runs the gamut – from failing to respond to e-mails to coming across as rude in your replies. Get in the habit of checking and responding to e-mails throughout the day to ensure you aren’t painting yourself as unprofessional, missing a last-minute meeting, or delaying a project from moving forward. Additionally, try to avoid one-word replies that come across as abrupt or impolite.

Being Deceitful

Sure, Pinocchio is cute, but lying in real life can cost you your job. Whether you plagiarize, misrepresent your credentials on a résumé, falsely log more hours than you actually worked, abuse your expense account, steal, or take credit for another’s accomplishment, lies (both small and large) have a way of coming back and biting you in the butt. When you’re dishonest, you’re digging yourself deeper and deeper into a hole that eventually you won’t be able to claw your way out of.

While we can’t wave a magic wand and make bad habits disappear in a flash, making an effort to ditch poor behaviors and make improvements is the first step in steering your career down a successful and productive path!

(Source: Kelly Kantrowitz, HumanEdge)

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