Are you a good co-worker, or are you annoying the life out of those around you? Many people claim they are “different outside of work,” but the relationships with the people you work with can negatively impact your entire life if you don’t invest in them appropriately. Explore the fourteen annoying traits outlined below to determine if your co-workers have had it with your recent behavior and what to do about it if the answer is “yes.” If any of these hit really close to home, it may be time to have a little internal heart-to-heart with the person in the mirror to improve your environment at work.
Being Bossy When You’re Not the Boss
Nothing is worse than a busy body co-worker that thinks they are in charge particularly when they are not the designated boss. There are natural leaders in every business that will generally keep things in check when the boss is not around, but that person is typically recognized by the majority as such without much discussion. If you’re not the person the boss or others look to for help running the joint when the head cheese is not around, don’t assume that others will respond well to you barking out orders. It is better to keep the peace by sticking to what you do best before guiding others.
Being Closed Minded
Newsflash—your approach isn’t always the best way to accomplish a task, and everyone has their own way of doing their job. Don’t take offense when others don’t do things the way you’d do them especially if their way works well for them. The beauty of humans is we all develop ways to accomplish a given task in a fashion that makes us most comfortable; instead of bemoaning that, embrace it.
Asking for Feedback; Becoming Defensive Upon Receipt
Most of us have an innate desire to help others so when someone comes to us asking for constructive feedback, we generally are flattered and more than willing to help. If you’re willing to put yourself out there by asking for feedback, don’t become defensive or argumentative when someone fulfills your request. You’re sure to alienate your co-worker, and you may lose a friend in the process. Picking a fight over an opinion you solicited is a bad idea no matter how you spin it.
We all have areas of our working life we’d like to improve upon, but nothing annoys co-workers more than having to pick up the slack for someone which is not contributing their fair share. Some signs you may be inefficient include:
? Having to consistently work overtime to get your tasks accomplished. If you’re supposed to work eight hours in a day, you should be able to get a normal workload completed on time under normal circumstances.
? Having to repeat tasks throughout the day that could be completed in one effort. For example: let’s say you receive multiple e-mails per day that aren’t immediately revenue generating—set aside some time each day to review e-mails all at once instead of checking your inbox multiple times per day.
? Not documenting your work as you go. If your job requires you to repeat specific critical tasks every single day, unlike the example above, create a log to keep from forgetting what has been done. This simple change can save you a lot of time. After-all, if you repeat critical tasks every day, the days will blend together in your mind at some point because of the routine.
? Business leaders shunning you when it is time to hand out important, new responsibilities. This should clue you in there is a problem. If you’re observant, you’ll notice employees held in high regard typically don’t have any problem increasing their responsibilities and becoming more worthy of a promotion.
Backstabbing to Cover Your Behind
If a co-worker confides in you, don’t compromise that trust by using the confidential information they shared to better your position especially if things become strenuous in your position. It’s also not a good idea to throw a co-worker under the bus to deflect any heat you may be feeling. If push comes to shove, take the high road. Your co-worker will thank you, and they will definitely owe you one. You never know when you may need to cash in a favor, and word will spread that you did the right thing even it if was painful.
While this may seem related to backstabbing, it’s a different animal which should be addressed as such. When you are hired into a company, you are responsible for a specific job. If you are unwilling, or no longer motivated, to do that job, do everyone a favor and find something else. You aren’t doing anyone any good by sticking around and making excuses for why your job isn’t getting done properly. It’s admirable to admit to everyone that the job isn’t a good fit and find something that suits you and your personality a little better. One caveat: if you find yourself hopping jobs every few months, the jobs can’t all be to blame—look in the mirror for the culprit.
Not Owning Your Mistakes
Nothing says “loser” like blaming a co-worker to save your own rear end. If you make a mistake, own it! Why should someone else take a “hit” for your mistake? Humans are going to make mistakes, and supervisors understand that. They aren’t as understanding of someone who isn’t a team player and fixes blame instead of solving problems. If a mistake is made, look for ways you can learn and improve from it and express that to your supervisor. Far too often we find ourselves looking for a scapegoat in hopes that we’ll get a slap on the wrist and keep our jobs, but no one owes you anything if you screw up. You’re more likely to suffer minor consequences if you provide intelligent ideas on preventing the mistake from happening again while owning it all the while.
Being Self Centered in Meetings
Have you ever been in a meeting where one person dominates the “floor” with issues that are insignificant to the group and self-centered? If you have negative things which impact you in your job, take it up with a supervisor in a one-on-one meeting. Don’t waste others’ times airing out your dirty laundry in a group meeting. They don’t care, and you’ll look like you’re not a team player in the process.
Worrying More About Others’ Jobs
You have a job you are responsible for as do others—don’t think for a minute that your co-workers appreciate your continuous scrutiny of their jobs and your rants to others about how “so and so” doesn’t do their job. If they wish to hear your opinion or feedback, they’ll eventually ask. In the meantime, worry about doing your job as best you can.
Clock Watching Others
Perhaps you show up on time each and every day and haven’t left early one time since you’ve been employed. Great! Reality isn’t as kind to others so you shouldn’t judge anyone else based on your high ideals. If their arrival and departure times are a problem, let their supervisor deal with them. If you are the supervisor, ask yourself if the employee in question provides the requisite value before you hold their feet to the coals and take drastic action. Allowing them to leave early or arrive thirty minutes late every now and again may be worth the trade-off if the employee produces extremely well. It may be possible to work out a schedule that is more conducive to happiness for both parties if it’s truly a problem.
Practicing one-upsmanship with your co-workers is a sure way to get them to turn on you at some point in time. A little healthy competition every now and then never hurts anyone, but it’s not good to interject that “Oh yeah? Well I did this,” into every conversation as if you’re better than the other person. Try genuinely appreciating your co-workers’ accomplishments, and they’ll be happy for you when you do something positive in return. If you’re always attempting to publicly out duel your co-workers, you may be regarded as jealous and/or narcissistic before too long.
Taking Credit for Others’ Accomplishments
If someone else does something remarkable, they deserve the credit that goes with it. Don’t do anything to undermine that recognition by trying to connect another’s accomplishment to you. If they earned it, be graceful and simply congratulate them or help focus the recognition solely on them.
It’s inevitable that people that work together are going to talk about one another. It’s human nature. Just be sure you don’t endanger your own reputation by spreading gossip or participating in petty office politics. The gossip won’t help you in the long run no matter how juicy it may be. Stick to discussing known facts and business issues, and you’ll be better off. Having a vent session can be healthy as long as it is related to your actual job—speculating about someone’s personal life isn’t any of your business. If someone’s personal life is affecting their job performance, pull that person to the side and have an adult conversation about it instead of spreading gossip in hopes that the person will change their behavior.
Not Addressing Conflicts Directly
This is a fairly simple concept—if you have a problem or issue with someone, address that person directly as soon as possible in order to squash the conflict and maintain a healthy working relationship. If you’re around someone a lot, disagreements are bound to creep into the picture. They don’t have to sabotage your employment or your relationship if handled properly.
If your goal is to become a great co-worker which can climb the ranks quickly, these tips can contribute to achieving your objectives along with keeping you in the good graces of your colleagues. Why not start today by acknowledging poor behavior and taking steps to improve yourself and your work environment?
About the Author: Roger Bauer is Founder and CEO of SMB Consulting, Inc., a nationally recognized small business consulting firm specializing in business analysis, competitive intelligence, management, marketing, sales, search engine optimization (SEO), strategic planning, and technology.