6 Bad Workplace Habits and How to Hold Yourself Accountable
Students graduating from college face an interesting, often undiscussed transition into work. For the twelve years of elementary and high school, as well as years in college, competition and standing out above peers is often a top priority. Getting the highest grade or giving the best presentation is a worthy goal, but when it comes time to step out of the classroom and get a job, that shifts. In the workplace, standing out is good, but teamwork and contributing to the collective is also important. Sometimes, bad social habits that didn’t much matter in school can cause huge problems in the workplace.
Everyone on a work team has a part to play in achieving the overall goal. Some tasks may require patience with coworkers as they do their part, especially when that work is needed to take next steps on a project. Maybe this sounds familiar from group projects in school too, but in this case, you can’t just ask your boss to intervene every time like a professor would. Instead, work together with colleagues to create a timeline, so that everyone knows what they are responsible for and by when. If you become irritable or frustrated (like if the timeline falls through) try counting to 10 or taking a short walk.
Poor Communication Skills
Communication is a two-way street. Not only is communicating what you need important, but so is practicing active listening skills so you can hear what others need. In class, when others asked questions, some might have thought they were silly or even become annoyed. But in the workplace, it’s important to listen and be respectful.
There are things to do both when talking and writing to ensure meaning and information is clear, with the right emotional impact. In terms of conversation, take a few seconds before speaking to consider the response from all angles. When listening, repeat what you are hearing to the speaker to ensure you’ve understood them, and even take notes. When writing email or a memo, read it out loud before sending. This can make finding grammatical errors and unintentional negative tone easier.
Lack of Time Management
As a student, checking emails is part of the regular routine. While email is important in the workplace too, it shouldn’t eat up your entire day. After all, you can’t really hope from an email from your boss that afternoon work is cancelled for the day. Research has shown that when people only check email three times a day, they are significantly more productive.
Negativity can stifle creativity by draining mental energy and ruin good teamwork in the workplace. It can also make co-workers afraid to communicate openly. In school, the opinion of your fellow students was probably important to you for social reasons, but in the workplace, productivity also hangs in the balance. When beginning to feel negative and perhaps release that on others through behavior, examine the source of those feelings. There are many practices to combat negativity. Find whatever works for you and start there to move forward with a more positive mindset.
Getting Too Personal
Sharing some of your personal life will help others understand you better. But, there is a fine line between sharing and oversharing. Oversharing in the workplace not only makes others uncomfortable, it’s a distraction, and may even reveal more about your weaknesses or worries than your co-workers and boss need to know. For example, sharing that a family member is having medical issues is generally okay. Explaining the medical issues in great detail can make others uncomfortable, even triggering bad memories they’ve experienced. And it may also give coworkers reason to surmise that the situation will compete for your attention at work. The goal here is to be open without sharing all the details.
When under scrutiny, it’s easy to push off blame or make excuses – but at the end of the day your actions and reactions to problems are your responsibility. In college, it’s easy for some to skip class if they didn’t get an assignment done or give the professor a story to get sympathy. But in the workplace, those habits will probably lead you back out the door. When a project fails because of a mistake, it’s not time to explain why or assign blame. When emotions are high and people feel defensive, the brain wants to react and explain the situation, but it’s best to take a less emotional approach. Acknowledge your role in the failure and brainstorm with the team about how to avoid similar issues in the future.
Landing a new position means you already stood out from all other candidates with great qualities. So now that you’re in the mix, it’s time to become a team player, not expect everyone around you to make room for bad habits you bring along. We hope these strategies help you toward greater self-accountability, but remember, correcting these habits is a daily effort, not a change that will happen overnight. Your brothers at Alpha Kappa Psi believe in you and have your back!