Whether you’re an intern in an office setting for the first time or a seasoned professional, it’s easy to slip up at work. Usually, a small mistake won’t cost you much (if anything) but getting complacent can lead to more frequent and bigger mistakes. Some bad habits develop, too. These habits may be harmless, but they can make you look unprofessional at best. At worst, they can cost you your job. Some things everyone should avoid doing at work:
Shifting blame. Shifting blame to someone else may work in the short-term, but can be a career-killing move in the long-run. It’s best to admit to your mistakes and address them as soon as possible.
Badmouthing co-workers. Talking bad or gossiping about co-workers (current or former) makes you look immature and petty. Even if others are doing it, refrain from doing so yourself. It may be tempting but something you say could get back to the wrong person.
Failing to document. Documenting important communications or other occurrences is the key to saving yourself should any problems arise. Keep records of important conversations via writing or email. You may also be dealing with bullying or harassment. Take notes about what occurred, including the date, time and anyone present. These will help prove your case if you have to report the person.
Doing the bare minimum. Doing only what’s required is fine, but it isn’t enough if you want to become indispensable. Go above and beyond for your boss or customers and you’ll have greater job security. If extra work needs to be done, volunteer to help. Anticipate needs, rather than waiting to be asked to do something. You’ll stay on your boss’s radar and possibly put yourself in line for a promotion or raise.
Ignoring company culture. Awareness of company culture is important to career success. Pay attention to how your superiors behave, and follow their lead. Some companies are very formal while others are more laid back. You need to lean on the formal side until you get a good feel of what’s acceptable and what’s not okay.
Letting your guard down. The longer you work at a company, the more comfortable you become. This can be a good thing, but it can also cause problems. You let your professional wall down and start doing things that could put your job at risk. Always be aware that you are at work, not hanging out with friends.
Talking about religion and politics. Religion and politics can be very divisive subjects. Unless you work for a religious or political organization, don’t discuss these matters at work. If they are brought up, remain silent or change the subject.
Staying glued to your personal phone. Unless you use your personal phone for work purposes, you need to keep it out of site during work hours (except for breaks). Even if you have extra time, you shouldn’t be on your phone constantly. It shows that you don’t have enough work to do, and will leave you first on the list should layoffs occur.
Bringing personal problems to work. Personal problems can seep into every aspect of your life. But in order to give full attention to your work, you need to leave your personal problems at home. It’s easier said than done, but staying as busy as possible can help.
Assuming. It’s easier to assume something is taken care of by a teammate or coworker. But you should always double check to make sure things are completed so you won’t look lazy or incompetent.
Not asking for feedback. Some companies are more laid back when it comes to giving employees feedback. Even if your company doesn’t have formal performance reviews, it’s good to ask your boss for feedback on your work. Ask what you’re doing right and what areas need improvement.
Using work computers for personal matters. Chances are that your work computer and email are being monitored. You don’t want to be caught browsing Facebook or exchanging personal emails on company time. Some companies may allow it if you’re on break but even then it’s important to be careful what sites you visit and what you write or post.
Lying about or exaggerating skills. Rather than lying about your abilities, say that you aren’t familiar with a particular skill or topic but are willing and excited to learn. Your employer will appreciate your honestly and eagerness to acquire new skills.
Ignoring red flags. It’s important to be aware of what’s going on at your company. If you see signs of trouble, don’t bury your head in the sand and assume things will be worked out. Some examples that you’re employer may be in trouble: high turnover, budget cuts, reduced hours, late or short paychecks and layoffs.
Taking criticism personally. At any job, you’ll probably face criticism. If it’s not from your boss, it’ll be from a customer, coworker, or client. In any case, you should take the criticism for what it is – one person’s opinion of your work. It may be malicious or it may be constructive. Consider the source and either go on as usual or work on your weaknesses.