Learning from your mistakes is a great skill to master. You know what’s even better? Learning from other people’s mistakes. To avoid making costly missteps while on the job, steer clear of these five common workplace mistakes. Some of them may seem innocuous, but even a common mistake can derail a career — or at least put you down a few pegs on your annual performance review.
- Gossiping About Co-Workers: This is a mean-spirited habit that doesn’t even belong in the schoolyard, let alone an office. Gossiping about co-workers behind their backs can harm your career in a few ways. For one, gossip always gets out, and when the co-worker you were gabbing about finds out you were the one behind a rumor, you can expect an awkward confrontation, or worse — a report to your boss about your bad behavior. Not to mention, starting gossip will sour your office reputation; the co-workers you’re gossiping to probably figure you talk about them behind their backs as well, so you’ll come off as far less than trustworthy. If you have a legitimate gripe with a co-worker, talk to the co-worker directly rather than engaging in gossip, or seek assistance from your manager on how to deal with the problem.
- Talking Bad About Your Job … to Everyone on Social Media: We all need to let off steam about our daily grinds now and then — but letting off steam on social media, where everyone and their grandma (and your boss!) can find your status updates, is a big no-no. In fact, it seems like every few weeks we see a story about someone mouthing off on Facebook or Twitter about how much his or her job “sucks,” and then they get canned immediately. Keep your office gripe sessions offline (and out of the office). And if you’re fighting the urge to complain about your job pretty much all of the time, take that as your cue to start your search for a new position. That’ll get you a lot farther than complaining about it.
- Doing Your Job, But Only Your Job: You may think a nine-to-five job means showing up at work at nine and leaving at five. Honestly, though, that’s just not the case. Skipping out on “optional” activities like office parties or even informal after work happy hours may cause your boss to question if you’re really a good fit for the company culture. Let’s face it: we spend 40 hours a week (and sometimes much more!) at our workplace, so making the extra effort to get to know your co-workers and ensuring your office is a fun, supportive place to be just makes sense. And you know what they say: “Out of sight, out of mind.” If your boss never sees you emerge from your cubicle to hang with the rest of the work crew, chances are you won’t be top-of-mind for that next promotion.
- Becoming a Multi-tasking Nightmare: For many millennials, multi-tasking is a point of pride; the more nimble among us can G-chat, text, and photocopy all at once! That sounds impressive, but studies have shown that multi-tasking at work actually makes us less productive, since our focus is so scattered. And when multi-tasking gets out of hand, it’s only a matter of time before you make a careless mistake while on the job. Before that happens, switch your focus from multitasking to being mindful, and watch the workplace accolades roll in.
- Taking Credit For Someone Else’s Work: Most often, this workplace mistake doesn’t happen because someone’s being nefarious, but because they’re being forgetful or thoughtless. For example, you may get praise from your boss during a meeting, but you’re too busy basking in that praise to realize that your boss is commenting on a specific part of the presentation that you actually had nothing to do with! Now the co-worker who did produce that portion of the presentation thinks you’re anything but a team player, and when your boss finds out, he or she will think you’re dishonest. Whether intentional or not, taking credit for someone else’s work only has negative consequences. Be extra mindful of always giving credit where credit’s due to avoid being labeled the office egomaniac.
What other common workplace mistakes should young professionals try to avoid? Share your thoughts in the comments below!