10 things that impede your success in the workplace

Do you want to get ahead at work? You probably think there’s a formula for being noticed and getting ahead. Well, you are correct. One important aspect of the advancement equation is eliminating habits that are holding you back. These are the same habits that are holding everyone back and hurting the collective productivity of your office.

  1. Arriving late. Even if your office has flexible time, those around you notice if you are the last one to arrive each day. That looks like laziness. Whether or not it is does not really matter if your co-workers are thinking that it is.
  2. Allowing your meeting to run late. If you are the meeting organizer, it is your obligation to ensure it starts and ends on time. This shows respect for your co-workers’ schedules.
  3. Joining a meeting late. If you are invited to a meeting that begins at 10:00 a.m., then you should be ready to start at 10:00 a.m. Do not plan on leaving your desk and walking up three flights of stairs to arrive at 10:04 a.m. That shows disrespect to the organizer.
  4. Not replying to a meeting request. If you are invited to a meeting, you should indicate your status by accepting or declining. If you are not certain you will be able to attend, reply as tentative and explain. It’s okay to say “no”. Your schedule is sacred. But so are the schedules of your co-workers.
  5. Not providing an agenda for a meeting. If you are the meeting organizer it is your responsibility to send an agenda that explains the purpose of and goals for the meeting. After the meeting you should provide notes summarizing the action items, outcomes or other important business accomplished during the meeting and provide that in a timely manner.
  6. Scheduling a meeting during the lunch hour, or at the very end of the day. These are bad habits and demonstrate a disregard for the schedules of others — unless of course, you are providing lunch or ensuring that (for end of the day meetings) it will end on time to allow the attendees to get back to their respective offices to finish up whatever it is that they need to finish or close down.
  7. Not acknowledging correspondence in a timely manner. Blowing off emails from co-workers is disrespectful. If you do not have an answer, take 20 seconds and reply that you need more time to provide one. If you know you are going to be unavailable for a set period of time, consider putting up an auto response.
  8. Being loud. In an open workplace, this is one of the fastest and surest ways to become known as “the obnoxious one”. Loud, disruptive co-workers develop reputations for being lazy and unproductive because people only remember the disruption they cause.
  9. Stinky food. Okay, you can have your tuna fish and broccoli sandwich that you just heated in the microwave. But consider that you may be now associated as the one with the stinky food.
  10. Printing personal documents. When you send personal documents to the public printer, other people are likely to see them if you are not able to retrieve them immediately. Invariably, you will get distracted at some point after printing such an email and your mortgage statement or tax return will be sitting out far longer than you would like.

Chances are, you’ve done a few of these on the list — we all have. But, being respectful of your co-workers and their schedules will take you very far in your organization. The fact is, your co-workers see everything and talk about everything they see. So remember this the next time you show up late to a meeting that you had not rsvp’d to with a tuna fish sandwich in hand.

Thinking of quitting? Think again…

Bernard Marr just penned a brief piece on why not to quit your job. He touches on a few solid points, but I believe he misses a very important one that I’ll opine upon here:

Look in the mirror. It’s you, not your boss.

Sure, we’ve all read the articles about bad bosses, signs your manager stinks, and how to deal with annoying co-workers, but if you’re chronically unhappy, maybe it’s you!

Thinking of jumping ship and quitting? Chances are you’ll run into many of the same things that make you unhappy at your new job. And you’re trading in stability (stable, predictable job and environment) for a large amount of risk.

What risk?

You DON’T know how happy you’ll be at your new job. You’re making a false assumption that new and different equals better… and that’s a poor assumption, at best.

Leave your job but taking all your bad habits with you won’t result in the change you’re in search of; the change needs come from within you.

My best advice is to drill into what’s making you unhappy at your current job and work hard at reversing that with patience, persistence and a little sweat. It’s not easy, but it’s generally a more risk-adverse path. Young inexperienced employees fall into this trap all the time. They are too scared and timid to approach their boss/co-workers/management to create meaningful dialogue, so they jump ship, only to be back in the position (emotionally) in another year or so.

Changing jobs comes with enormous amounts of risk. The recruiter is luring you away to the new employer and likely is providing you with a filtered view of reality because they want to fill the role. So, they are “selling” you the role. And when you sell, you tend not to highlight the negative stuff. Think back to how you were lured into your current role? Was it mostly puppy dogs and rainbows? Most likely it was. But the underlying issues you are experiencing aren’t necessarily because they didn’t share with you all the details of your current role – or even the negative elements. Changing jobs replaces something you know a lot about (your current job, role, tasks, employer, industry, etc.) with something you know almost nothing about except a recruiter’s pitch and perhaps some public websites. That’s not apples to apples. It’s apples to dynamite. Are you taking this new job for an increase in pay of 15%? Do you earn $70,000 a year? If so, you’re giving up job security for less than $1,000 a month increase. Is it worth it?

Young employees fail to evaluate risk accurately. Don’t fall into this trap.