Many professionals never reach their full potential. No matter how hard they try, they just find themselves coming up short — even with the skills and experience necessary to succeed.
Chances are good they’re letting a few bad habits get in the way. After all, bad habits often go unnoticed until they become a real issue. You must be able to take an honest — and we’re talking brutally honest — look at yourself to ensure you’re not the one impeding your potential.
If you’re taking part in any one of the following bad habits, stop now. Otherwise, opportunities at work will likely become further and farther between.
1. Procrastinating. Just because you think you do your best work at the last minute doesn’t necessarily mean others feel the same way about themselves. Your procrastination could be affecting your colleagues’ performance. This not only leads to resentment, but you’ll be the first to blame when things go south.
2. Showing up late. Arriving late to work or back from a break is a sign of disrespect to the company and your colleagues. Make sure to arrive in the office early and be at your desk before the clock strikes the start of your day. It’s one of the easiest ways to show that you care about your job — not to mention other people’s time.
3. Failing to respond promptly. No one would ever tell you to respond to emails, texts, or phone calls the minute they come in. But waiting more than 24 hours to answer a request can get people wondering about your attention to detail and communication skills. Keep up to date with your correspondence.
4. Texting on the job. Just because there’s no formal policy in place doesn’t mean texting on the job isn’t frowned upon. A good rule of thumb is to let the actions of others inform your phone usage. If your colleagues aren’t texting at work, put your phone away and only text when it’s important.
5. Complaining. One reason people complain is to pin the fault on someone else, and then they don’t need to look at their own behavior. But the higher you move up in a company, the more responsibility you’ll need to take on. Those complaints could be demonstrating to others a lack of ownership.
6. Letting actions speak. Since actions speak louder than words, think about what your behaviors might be saying about you. Are you coming off as rude or unprofessional with your non-verbal communication habits? Something as simple as crossing your arms at a meeting could be giving people the wrong impression.
7. Having a short fuse. We all lose our temper from time to time. But doing it at work could be an indication that you don’t work well under pressure, and management will likely rethink whether you can handle any additional responsibilities on the job. Look for ways to reduce stress and keep personal problems at home.
8. Speaking without thinking. Sharing the first thing that pops into your head is a surefire way to a seat across from human resources — if not the unemployment agency. Think before you speak (or shoot of an email). Even if you’re just trying to lighten the mood, it could be seen as inappropriate and kill your career.
9. Using poor grammar. Think about the last time you heard someone use poor grammar — or slang and profanity, at that. You probably thought the person was unprofessional. Remember that you’re not talking to your friends or family. Even if you’ve established a bond, you’re still at work. Speak accordingly.
10. Being all work. You may go to work to work, but people are spending at least eight hours a day with you. Make the work environment enjoyable by showing your colleagues a bit of your personality. Go out to lunch with your coworkers, show up to a few work functions, and smile when people talk to you.
11. Forgetting your manners. Manners are extremely important in the work setting. That means you should always say “please” when asking for something, “thank you” when given something, and “excuse me” when interrupting someone. Observe the etiquette you learned as a child to show your respect in the workplace.
12. Interrupting others. There may be times when you’ve interrupted a coworker. But don’t make a habit of it. Interrupting anyone in the workplace can come off as arrogant. Hold your tongue and wait for the appropriate time to express your opinion or provide your input. It’s all about respect.
Any one of these bad habits can keep you from getting that promotion, and a number of them could even lead to the loss of a job. Always use a bit of self-reflection at work to keep improving yourself and those soft skills many employers look for in a potential candidate. Your career will be better for it.