19 ways to slowly destroy your career
By Emmie Martin
There are big mistakes that can instantly ruin your reputation at work or even get you fired. But more commonly, it’s the gradual accumulation of smaller offenses that keeps employees from getting ahead in their careers.
Bad habits, such as giving curt responses to emails or keeping to yourself all day, could be hurting your reputation — whether you realize it or not.
Here are 19 bad behaviors that will slowly erode your credibility and cost you in the end.
- You don’t adapt to the company culture.
It pays to get to know the company culture.
Every workplace operates under its own set of social customs. Not making an effort to assimilate into this culture can make you seem disapproving or judgmental.
This holier-than-thou attitude is alienating to coworkers and makes it seem like you don’t care about forming positive relationships in the office.
- You make excuses.
Stay on top of your work, and own up to it if you don’t.
Not taking responsibility for your mistakes and failures will catch up with you. Waiting until the day a project is due to explain why you’re behind, for example, tells your boss that you can’t manage your time well.
- You do the bare minimum.
Go the extra mile.
Even if you always meet deadlines and consistently turn in quality work, doing only the bare minimum makes you seem complacent.
On the other hand, looking for opportunities instead of waiting for them to fall into your lap shows your boss that you’re driven and care about your future at the company.
- You don’t follow through.
Always help when you say you will.
When you fail to do what you say you’re going to do, from restocking the printer to copy editing your neighbor’s report, you garner a reputation for being unreliable.
Keeping your word shows that you’re accountable and can be trusted with more responsibilities when it comes time to be considered for a promotion.
- You dress like a slob.
Take the time to look your best.
Once you’re settled into a position, it can be easy to let your appearance fall by the wayside. However, failing to look put-together undermines your credibility and authority and may make you seem like you don’t care.
Remember the age-old saying: Dress for the job you want.
- You’re a pessimist.
A little positivity goes a long way.
Constantly whining and complaining won’t make you pleasant to be around, and certainly won’t entice your boss to keep you around for long.
- You ignore coworkers.
Form friendships with your coworkers.
Forming friendships with your colleagues is just as important as cultivating relationships with higher-ups.
Strive to be known and well-liked, so that coworkers want to share valuable information with you and help you when you need it.
- You’re defensive.
Take responsibility for your actions.
Your boss doesn’t expect you to be perfect, but constantly being defensive makes you look unprofessional.
If you’re unwilling to listen to constructive criticism or own up to your mistakes, it tells your boss that you’re unlikely to push yourself to improve.
- You write brusque emails.
Tone says a lot over email.
No matter how friendly you are in person, terse language can easily be misconstrued in an email. Even if it’s unintentional, rude emails immediately sour your reputation around the office and keep others from wanting to interact with you.
- You procrastinate.
Don’t wait until the last minute.
Putting off projects until the last minute not only puts stress on you, it hinders the progress of every other person relying on your portion of the work. If something goes wrong, you’ll likely be the first one blamed.
- You don’t make meaningful contributions.
Show how valuable you are in every meeting.
Saying something in a meeting just for the sake of speaking doesn’t add anything productive.
Instead, prepare ahead of time, and remember quality over quantity when sharing ideas.
- You’re always late.
Frequent tardiness signifies to coworkers that something else is more important to you and that you don’t value their time. It paints you as disrespectful and uncaring, making people wary of trusting you.
No matter what it takes, always find a way to be punctual.
- You never stop talking.
Know when it’s okay to chat — and when it’s not.
Yes, it’s great to get to know your coworkers, but if you’re constantly socializing, it prevents everyone around you from getting their work done.
Keep the chatter to your lunch hour and breaks to avoid annoying others and becoming the person no one wants to work with.
- You ignore emails.
Don’t be that person.
Failing to answer emails in a reasonable timeframe not only frustrates those who need responses from you, it signifies to colleagues that they aren’t worth your time, can cause you to miss deadlines, and generally paints you as unprofessional.
Although answering each one as soon as it’s received is impractical, making a conscious effort to stay on top of your inbox goes a long way.
- You’re rude.
Don’t be the guy no one wants to work with.
Doing good work doesn’t matter if no one wants to work with you. Not only does rudeness alienate coworkers, but most managers won’t tolerate abrasive and inconsiderate employees.
Remember, being polite is a key to winning people over.
- You don’t focus on long-term goals.
Keep track of your long-term goals.
Though it’s important to be engaged with your everyday work, it’s equally crucial to think about the future of your career.
Don’t look at opportunities in terms of instant perks — like a bigger paycheck — but instead consider how they’ll affect your career overall.
- You ignore your network.
Never stop networking.
Failing to connect with other people in your industry puts you at a major disadvantage, especially if you’re early on in your career.
Even if you’ve been in the industry for a while, it’s still important to keep in touch with your network or you run the risk of being left out in the cold when you really need help.
- You’re arrogant.
Learn to work as a team.
No matter how experienced you are, acting like a know-it-all will quickly irritate your colleagues. There’s always something more to learn, so find a way to be open to new ideas.
- You avoid feedback.
Listen and learn.
If your boss asks you to make a change, do it — even if you think your way is better. The reality is that even if your process is superior, not responding to feedback makes you look pompous, stubborn, and difficult to work with.
Unless it’s something major that warrants a conversation, be open to constructive criticism.
This article is published in collaboration with Business Insider UK. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.