Confession time: Are you guilty of one (or – gasp – more) of these seven deadly sins? Hold on to your desk chair, because we’re about to descend into the office inferno. Learn how to avoid these seven workplace mistakes that could cost you your job.
Okay, this is awkward, but do you remember that time in your early twenties when you had a few too many drinks at the office Christmas party, and things were never the same between you and Joe in accounting? Don’t do that again.
Workplace relationships, even the sober, slow-developing ones, are tricky. In fact, many offices frown on budding romances because they can negatively impact productivity, but that doesn’t seem to stop us from falling for our coworkers. This may be why we went gaga over Pam and Jim in the long-running TV series The Office. If you find yourself swooning whenever a certain coworker walks by your cubicle, know your HR policies and keep it aboveboard.
Forgot to pack a lunch again? Don’t just go diving into the workplace fridge without being absolutely sure that the food you’re about to enjoy is up for grabs. No one wants to find that their chicken salad has disappeared before their lunch hour.
If you unintentionally indulged in someone else’s private stash, of course, there’s an easy fix: replace it and apologize.
There is a fine line between ambition and greed. Women especially are often hesitant to ask for a raise, which can hurt them in the long run. But asking too much too soon can give the impression that you are not a team player and only interested in advancing your own interests.
Who is guilty of becoming distracted and wasting time at work? Pretty much everyone. Statistics tell us that the average American worker wastes about 1.7 hours per day. A couple minutes on Facebook, chatting with a coworker about the big game, or fantasizing about your next vacation are unlikely to get you fired. However, when distraction spills over into laziness and significant lost productivity, your employer is likely to take notice.
If you need to increase focus, try greening your workspace with a plant or small water feature. You can also use social media as a productivity tool, promising yourself 15 minutes of Pinterest time when you finish an important task.
Workplace conflict is actually responsible for more lost productivity than social media, because anger and frustration cause mental stress that makes it almost impossible for us to do our jobs. Lashing out at your colleagues is never a solution. Shouting matches make people defensive and brand you as short-tempered and belligerent.
Don’t let workplace conflicts erupt or – worse – quietly simmer away for months. Deal with the problem after you calm down, or bring in a mediator for a long-standing or complex issue.
Passed over for a promotion? Don’t let envy get the better of you. Jealousy causes all kinds of problems at the workplace. If you are jealous of a high-performing colleague, you will feel tempted to disparage that person (“She only got the job because she’s friends with the boss’s wife.”) or distance yourself from her. Both approaches create rifts that will harm your team’s productivity and make you look bad in the process.
This might be one of the most difficult challenges to overcome. The key is to start by admitting your envy (try this envy self-assessment) and then focus on yourself. Affirm your good qualities and take specific steps towards improving yourself in areas that will make you shine the next time a promotion opportunity presents itself.
You made a mistake at work, but you’re afraid to admit it. We’ve all been there. But here’s the harsh truth: You’re an adult, and if you make a mistake, you need to own the consequences. No one expects perfection from you, but they do expect honesty. Swallow your pride and ‘fess up, or you risk losing your credibility for good.
Speaking of which, confession time: Tell us about your workplace sin for a chance to be featured in an upcoming story!