habits that can get you fired

You might figure that if you do good work, you don’t need to worry about being fired. Think again – there are some habits that can jeopardize even the best employee’s job. Here are 10 of the riskiest.

1. Playing online during the workday. If you’re logged into Gmail chat all day, doing your holiday shopping online, or playing on Facebook when you should be working, it could cost you your job. Your employer has the right to monitor anything you do on your work computer, including checking your personal email. Never use your work computer for anything you don’t want your boss to know about — whether it’s job-searching, online shopping, complaining about your job, hanging out on social networking sites, or anything else.

2. Complaining about your boss. You never know who might be listening, and if you get a reputation as a complainer, your boss will eventually hear about it.

3. Not owning up to mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time; what matters is how you handle it when you do. If you don’t accept responsibility or – worse – try to cover up that a mistake was made at all, your boss will likely be far more angry at this than at the mistake itself.

4. Being preoccupied with whether something is your job or not. Protesting that something isn’t in your job description is a good way to lose the support of your boss. Job descriptions aren’t comprehensive, and most people end up doing work that doesn’t fall squarely within that job description. (That’s what “and other duties as assigned” means.)

People who balk at this often end up at the top of a lay-off list. You want to make yourself more valuable to your employer, not less.

5. Getting angry at work. It’s normal to occasionally get frustrated at work, but it crosses a line if you’re yelling, slamming doors, or snapping at people. It only takes one incident like this to get a reputation as the angry guy who no one wants to work with, and that’s a label that’s very hard to shake.

6. Letting work fall through the cracks. If you don’t do what you say you’re going to do – whether it’s as small as responding to an email or forwarding a document or as big as meeting a project deadline – your boss will conclude that she can’t count on you to keep your word.

7. Doing only the basics and not anything more. Doing a merely adequate job isn’t enough these days. With so many qualified job seekers available for hire, you need to go above and beyond in order to be seen as valuable to your boss. If you’re simply meeting minimum expectations, your boss can quickly find someone who will do more.

8. Caring more about having friends at work than about doing a good job. It’s great to get along with the people you work with, but if you’re chit-chatting when you should be working or gossiping about the boss, your bonding sessions may quickly leave you without a job.

9. Taking feedback badly. If you get upset, offended, or angry when your boss gives you feedback on your work, you’re making it hard (and painful) for your boss to do her job. Worse yet, she might start avoiding giving you important feedback that you need to hear.

10. Hiding things. Hiding things – work that isn’t getting done, an angry client, a missed deadline, the fact that you don’t really know how to use that software – is one of the worst things you can do on the job. If your boss isn’t confident that you’ll give her bad news directly or be forthright about a problem, you’ll destroy her trust in you.

I originally published this at U.S. News & World Report.

{ 9 comments… read them below }

  1. Dawn*

    Number four is probably my biggest pet peeve ever. It drives me absolutely crazy to hear someone say, “That’s not my job.” You work here. Yes, it is.

    Number three is pretty aggravating, too. We have one person who always makes an excuse as to why something wasn’t her fault when it clearly was. Doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of paper that fell on the floor. It’s not her fault and she can prove it.

  2. Sarah G*

    I just cracked myself up b/c I left a comment on the US News site, but I accidentally typed the “captcha” as my name. I was wondering why it seemed like I had to type the captcha twice! So yes, hstori glama is me!

  3. Scott Woode*

    I agree with Dawn. #4 is my least favorite. No one likes to hear the word “No,” so if it’s in your power to say “Yes” and help someone out without breaking any legal or ethical rules, then do the latter. The former only gives you a bad reputation and makes you seem less like a team player and more like a lone wolf.

  4. -*

    #3 is my coworker. I ran a meeting a few weeks back about all of the little things holding us back as a team, and wanted people to open up about why they weren’t solving problems that were in their courts. I was so past the “I can’t believe xxx is so lazy, when will he do it!” and just concerned with getting things done and understanding why they weren’t. Most people had (albeit excuses) good, workable answers to why certain things weren’t moving along as planned.

    I, being the person at which all projects come together (i.e. I am the ONLY person to see EVERYTHING), I realized one person consistently makes accounts make alot less money than they could. So we have tens of accounts making 50% of what they could. This was always my suspicision, but one account we just stole from the competition and so I know their potential is 5X what he planned them for.

    His reaction? Oh, every suggestion I have he already implements. He is just given bad customers with no potential. He can’t get to work because he has too much on his plate, even though he complains day to day that his biggest project is stalled. Just a bunch of excuses…..I trully thought I would hear “I can’t increase their revenue because of xxx,” or “the customer wants to start conservative,” or “I don’t know how to do or sell or plan xxxx,” or “the sales rep isn’t helping me,”…..there are tens of good answers for the #s I see. But he can’t even admit there is a problem, much less one caused by him. UUGGGGHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Frank*

    What I am curious about is managing the workload. Everything gets dumped on my department’s plate. I have a workplace where everything piles up on my department. It has gotten to a point where we are working from home, through lunch and before and after our 9-5 union shift.

  6. Frank*

    Sorry I cut off my post. We are constantly having to defend ourselves from being even more overworked. We cannot get our jobs done and priorities change constantly. We have asked to have a list of priorities but no one has been able to give them to me. We are told to start then stop various projects then go back to them. I think you have good ideas though I don’t think they really fit some workplaces.

  7. Cassie*

    I’d say the flip side of #4 is probably true too. The employee who thinks everything under his/her responsibility. (Unfortunately, I’m probably this person!). Although I try not to say anything unless it’s something that is crucial because I don’t want to step on other people’s toes. In our dept, it’s such a fine line. If there are mistakes on our dept’s website, should I point them out?

  8. BadMovieLover*

    On #4, I used to be very willing, without complaints, to help around with things that weren’t strictly in my description. However, one problem I found is that then you become “the guy” that gets the crap that nobody else wants to do — specially if you do a very good job, which is ironic. Eventually I was left with very little time to do the things that I really enjoy and am interested in, and went to school to learn, which sucks.

    What aggravtes me too is that some folks (in my group, one person in particular) are given special treatment in that they get to work only on what they like, yet they get promoted, and given an office (while actual project managers, and people with the same title as this person have to sit in cubes).

    Recently, this person dropped the ball in a major way with a critical audit report that needed to be updated as part of an overall project. He tried to shift the blame on the rest of the team by saying that we never made him aware of the project, but, unfortunately for him, I had a months long email trail proving he was a recipient in many of the emails, and an invitee on many of the meetings.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, though, he gets treated with kids gloves all the same. He let the problem drag on for more than a week, while our boss got pissed off every day that the problem wasn’t fixed. Instead of telling it to him, though, he would tell us who didn’t know about this dude’s process. Eventually he did fix it, but if we had let something that we were responsible for maintaining drag in the way he did, we’d probably get a yelling/breaking session.

    Needless to say, I’m already looking for a new job.

  9. Isaac*

    I was recently fired from my employer after 2 years. They told merits not working out with me come to find out rude it was because of a history of rude comments.6 months earlier during a business party they awared me with foot in mouth award

Comments are closed.