We’ve all dealt with a terrible employee at one point or another, either a coworker or a subordinate. And there’s a pretty good chance we’ve all been that employee too. Here are a few of the warnings signs you’ve veered down that path yourself – and how you can nip them in the bud.
You have trouble with timing
Maybe you’re a born procrastinator who lives life from one missed deadline to the next. Perhaps you find dragging yourself out of bed every morning to be a downright herculean feat, and you’re constantly trudging into the office well after your shift starts. Or maybe you’re so disorganised that you constantly miss important meetings.
You might not intend to be late, but poor punctuality shows your colleagues and superiors that you don’t respect their time. Not surprisingly, that’s likely to cause more than a little resentment.
- When commuting, always assume it will take longer to get to your destination than it actually will. If Google Maps tells you 40 minutes, give yourself at least 50.
- When working on a project, err on the side of caution with your time estimates – better for you to finish earlier than you said you would than to be late.
- Prepare for your morning the night before. Lay out your clothes, pre-make your breakfast, get your office supplies together and so on.
- If you have trouble waking up in the morning, set multiple alarms and make sure at least one of them requires you to get out of bed in order to turn it off.
- Set reminders for everything. Whether you’re on Android or iOS, you’ve got some powerful scheduling and calendar software at your fingertips. Use it liberally.
You’re constantly making excuses
You were tired. Your team members didn’t pull their weight. The client didn’t provide you with enough details.
If your default reaction to making a mistake is to blame someone (or something) else, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate yourself. The first step to being a good employee – and a good person – is to hold yourself accountable for your failures and shortcomings. If you don’t, not only will you be a pain to work with, you’ll never meaningfully improve.
Accept that you are not perfect. Sometimes, you’re going to make a mistake. Sometimes, your work is going to be below the quality you expect of yourself. When something goes wrong, don’t look at it as some awful, terrible, very bad thing.
Look at it as an opportunity to figure out how you can be better in the future.
You’ve got an ego the size of the moon
Confidence is important. It’s good to be sure of yourself. It can often be the difference between success and failure. The problem is that a lot of people tend to conflate being confident with being a smug twit.
They talk down to their coworkers which makes them a nightmare to work with.
Someone who’s confident doesn’t need praise or attention for what they do. They don’t need everyone to know how good they are – they already know. More importantly, they’re willing to acknowledge that regardless of how smart or skilled they are, they can’t do everything.
Making the shift from arrogance to confidence is as simple as recognising your own shortcomings and realising that there’s always someone better – and that’s completely okay.
You don’t work hard
Does everyone seem to get more done than you? Are you content with scraping by and doing the bare minimum? Do you spend more time gossiping than working?
Time to step things up. Otherwise, you’re going nowhere fast.
Focus. Remind yourself why you started working where you are and try to find a reason to work harder. Maybe gunning for a promotion will allow you to live more comfortably, or maybe you can just remind yourself how satisfying it is to do a job well.
Find a reason to work harder – and if you can’t, it may well be due to the fifth item on our list.
You simply don’t care
There’s no shortage of employees who hate their job. People who have no faith in their business’s mission, no attachment to its values and no loyalty to its management. If you’re one of them, that’s a problem.
This entry isn’t completely black and white. It could well be that you’re disengaged with your company and its values because you’re part of a toxic workplace. Or maybe you just aren’t a good fit for the industry.
Either way, it may be time to consider a career change.
You Can Be Better
Terrible employees are created. No one is born incompetent, lazy or hateful. They become that way due to a combination of factors – a toxic workplace, poor influences or difficulties in their personal lives.
If you’re among them, recognising it is the first step to fixing it. Because at the end of the day, no matter how bad you are, you can improve.
Brad Wayland is the Chief Strategy Officer at BlueCotton, a site with high-quality, easy-to-design custom t-shirts.