At The Center for Work Ethic Development, we focus on cultivating professional skills that help people advance in their careers and meaningfully contribute to their workplace. However, certain unprofessional habits can be a barrier to the effectiveness of those skills. Recognizing these poor habits in yourself and others can help you correct them and shift your focus back to positive workplace behaviors.

Habit #1: Gossip

Whether the gossip is professional or personal, it’s best left outside the office. Gossip can indicate untrustworthiness; it also suggests that the person engaging in the gossip is more interested in discussing a problem than in finding a solution. While personal gossip can sometimes give a sense of closeness between coworkers, it often feels like oversharing, which can make others feel uncomfortable. Instead of spreading gossip, keep conversations positive by sticking to more general topics like local events, hobbies, or upcoming vacation plans. This strategy is part of cultivating the workplace skill of bringing a positive attitude to your work environment.

Habit #2: Chronic Lateness

Constantly showing up to work late is an indicator of poor time management and organizational skills, which can cast a shadow over the rest of your performance. Lateness is a particularly visible bad habit because colleagues tend to notice if you’re not available during typical working hours. Furthermore, it breeds distrust on the occasions when you have a genuine need to arrive late, such as transportation or childcare difficulties. Ensure that you arrive to work on time by planning your pre-departure routine in advance. For example, place your travel mug and keys next to the door so you’re not searching for them. Set an alarm to remind you to leave at the correct time, allowing a few minutes of wiggle room for traffic or other impediments. A track record of excellent attendance is a valuable skill for any workplace.

Habit #3: Not proofreading your emails

Whether you’re emailing, texting, or communicating via another platform, ensure you are presenting yourself as intended by proofreading your messages before sending them. Careless spelling or grammatical mistakes may indicate that you’re lacking attention to detail or that you’re not concerned with presenting yourself professionally. If you’re not confident about your proofreading skills, try using a service like Grammarly or Microsoft Word spellcheck to help you identify and correct common errors. Paying attention to apperance in your communication is a great way to display professionalism.

Habit #4: Rudeness

Rudeness can take many forms, such as interrupting others, making an inappropriate comment, or failing to acknowledge someone when they’re speaking to you. Be aware of your behavior when interacting with others to avoid being perceived as rude. Put down your phone, make eye contact, listen attentively, and wait until they’re finished talking before you respond. Remember to use good manners, such as saying “please”, “excuse me”, and “thank you” whenever appropriate. These manners are part of the skill of acceptance, which demonstrates respect for your colleagues and the professional standards of your workplace.

Habit #5: Disorganization

Whether it’s a cluttered desk or a cluttered screen, disorganization can lead to inefficiency at work. If you’re spending too much time trying to find a particular file or trying to remember where you put that sticky note with reminders, you’re costing yourself in productivity. You can avoid disorganization by putting systems in place for your most common types of tasks. For instance, if you have several projects, create a binder (or digital folder) for each. Inside the binder, you can include sections for important reminders, processes, notes, and drafts, as well as a calendar to track important deadlines. Organization signals the skill of accountability, a key component of professional integrity.

Self-awareness is key to identifying and remedying bad workplace habits. If you feel like your habits are holding you back professionally, consider participating in Center for Work Ethic Development courses in refining your workplace behavior.

The Center for Work Ethic Development has identified the seven most essential workplace skills that help people reach their highest potential in their careers. These foundational skills include attitude, attendance, appearance, ambition, acceptance, appreciation, and accountability. To learn more about The Center for Work Ethic Development’s seven essential workplace skills and how to implement our curriculum in your workplace, visit