Top 10 Things You Should Never Do at Work
Take Any of These 10 Actions, and You Could Kill Your Career
When you're at work, you need to work, of course, but, you're also human. That whole human thing means that you make mistakes from time to time and you take some actions that are not ideal for your career. Everyone does, and it's not a huge problem in most cases.
But there are some things that you should never, ever do at work. They are career damaging, reputation damaging, and they will cause you to lose respect from your coworkers, your senior team, but most particularly—the person you fondly call the boss. Here are the top ten things you should never do at work.
1. Use Your Computer for Anything You Wouldn't Want Your Boss to Know About
Lots of bosses don't care if you check your personal email, post to your Twitter account, or shop for flowers for Mother's Day on your work computer. That doesn't mean that you have free rein on your computer. You should limit what you do on a work-owned computer even if your job doesn't have formal internet and e-mail policies.
No porn, of course, at any time. It is never appropriate to view at work. But don't job hunt, tweet anything inappropriate, or do anything that would cause your boss to freak out either. Remember, your company IT department can have access to everything you do on that computer, even when you use it at home. They access work computers when they suspect suspicious behavior by an employee.
You can whine at home to your friends and family, but whining at work is a career killer. This doesn't mean that you can't complain about problems. When you complain, however, your complaint should identify a problem that is fixable with an action plan that you and your organization can implement. When you whine, it's just whining and whining makes you look immature.
Yes, you want to become friends with your coworkers. But they don't need to know all of your drama whether it is relationship drama, family drama, or medical drama. This doesn't mean that you need to be a closed book, but it does mean keep the sharing of the personal drama under control.
Telling your coworkers that you're going through a divorce is alright. Sharing every detail about what your soon-to-be ex is doing—and how you feel about it—is not. Keep business relationships professional.
4. Ignore Your Boss's Warnings
When your boss says you need to come into work on time, she means it. When your boss says your attitude needs adjusting, it needs adjusting. When your boss says she wants you to focus on task A before going on to task B, you better make A, your priority. When you don't pay attention to these warnings, you put your career on the line. Some boss's preferences are career breaking to ignore.
5. Always Say Yes
Your boss didn't hire you because she needed a robot. She hired you because you had knowledge, skills, and abilities that make you great at what you do. This means you need to speak up and share your ideas. After you've expressed your doubts about an idea and your boss says she still wants you to do it her way, do it that way, but use your intellect to present new ideas.
6. Anything Illegal
This really shouldn't have to be said, but so many people break so many laws all of the time, they don't think it's a big deal. Think about speeding. Everyone does it, right? But don't do it when you're driving on company business. What about working off the clock? You shouldn't do that either. Don't sign documents you're not legally authorized to sign. Don't do drugs. Don't let regulations slide. Be a stickler for legality in all of your actions.
7. Anything Immoral
Don't lie. Don't have an affair. Don't set out to undermine your coworker. Sure, all of those activities can seem fun at the moment, but if you're busted, even if it's not directly related to your job, it lowers your colleagues' opinion of you. You don't want people thinking of you like Jane, who had an affair with her boss, or Patrick, the guy who tried to make his team look bad to a senior manager despite his involvement in the failed project.
8. Recommend Your Friends Just Because They Are Your Friends
Lots of companies have employee referral programs, and they are great. If you know a person who would work out fabulously in a position in your company, by all means, recommend that person. If someone you recommended gets hired, you'll likely get a bit of extra cash—at least positive recognition and a big thank you. Awesome.
But, don't recommend a person just because you are friends. That tends to end up as a disaster. Remember, it's not just about the referral bonus, and it's not just about getting your friend a job, it's about your reputation. If you know or even worry about the possibility that your friend is a slacker, don't recommend her.
9. Spread Germs Around the Office
Now, it's true that many companies don't have sick plans and in some cases, you'll get in trouble for taking time off, even if you have a fever of 104 and spend half the day in the bathroom. If that's the case, then put a pox upon your boss's head and hopefully, he catches whatever you have.
But if your company has a sick plan or any PTO that you could use when you're contagious, for Pete's sake, take it. When you're sick, you're not working up to speed, and you're infecting others. If they catch your disease, their productivity drops as well.
One person with the flu can decimate an office. Stay home. If you can't stand not working, work from home if possible, but pretty please, keep the germs to yourself.
10. Let Anger Take Over
Your job can be one of the most stressful components of your life. Don't, however, let your stress turn into anger that turns into bad behavior in the office. Yelling, screaming, punching a wall—or even worse, punching a person—can be career limiting.
Punching a coworker also falls under that no illegal things category. You'll probably get fired and might land yourself in prison. Learn to count to 10 before responding. If you find yourself yelling a lot, use your company's EAP and get some anger management help. It will save your career.
You want your coworkers to like and respect you, and your boss to appreciate you and your work professionally. You want to make the time you invest at work happy time, too. So if you avoid these ten actions, what you want will come true, and you'll have missed most opportunities for committing career suicide.