Top 10 Signs You are a Bad Employee

Depressed businessman sitting on stairs wearing a pink shirt.

The military has a heavily regulated structure in place to enforce discipline and foster excellence, but the civilian world doesn't always offer an equivalent system. Some companies are very strict about correcting troublesome behavior, while others are more fluid or laid back. Regardless, understanding some of the top 10 signs that you're a bad employee, as described by Forbes, will help you thrive in a civilian team.

1. You're never on time. Timeliness is one of the most critical functions of any job. Someone who can't be relied upon to show up on time will be seen as a drag on morale and resources and will soon lose respect. It's one of the easiest, most manageable aspects of your career, so shirking it will lead to trouble.


2. You find yourself frequently excusing your actions. If you find yourself frequently explaining away your actions, you may have a problem. Even if you believe that all of your excuses are valid, repetitive and problematic behavior isn't easily forgotten. It's important to understand what it takes to finish a job and what's expected of you to get it done.

3. You aren't willing to handle unexpected assignments. The nature of any job is relatively fluid: rarely does paid work come with fixed, predictable schedules. If something unexpected falls on your lap, receiving it bitterly or refusing it outright will serve as a stark black mark on your reputation. Everyone in the office is in the same boat, and refusing the unexpected may be seen as a sign that you're unwilling to shoulder your share.

4. You are frequently gossiping. It may be very hard to resist, but gossip is toxic. Even lighthearted backbiting can damage your reputation. Workplaces are small, enclosed social environments, and contributing to the rumor mill doesn't do anyone any good. If you do it too frequently, not only will you potentially hurt those around you, but people will lack respect for you as a professional.

5. You believe you're the smartest person in the workplace, or don't respect your coworkers. It's not unusual to be frustrated by the faults in others: they're easy to see and allow you to shift criticism off of yourself. However, if you find yourself always complaining to yourself about how useless those around you are, then you have a problem to deal with. This type of attitude tends to bleed out in your interactions with others, so even if you don't say that everyone is incompetent, your body language, tone, and attitude eventually will.

6. You do not respect your company's mission or values. A company's mission and values aren't there for fun – the higher ups put plenty of thought into them and do try to ensure that their company embodies them. If you show open disdain for the mission and values, you'll most likely be seen as more of a drag than a boon to the company. Even if both seem fake or overbearing, a measured level of respect for their existence and purpose will go a long way.

7. You are unproductive compared to your coworkers. If you can get a solid read on the productivity of your coworkers, then it never hurts to compare your output to theirs. If you see a wide gap in how much they accomplish versus how much you get done, then you are most likely due for some introspection. If you aren't pulling your weight, eventually people will notice. It may take a while depending on how many people are affected by your work, but you should never underestimate how noticeable your contribution can be.

8. No one in the office likes to work with you. Sometimes it's obvious, sometimes it's tricky to read, but if people don't like to work with you then something needs to be addressed. It's one thing to butt heads with one coworker, but if everyone seems to shun you, then the issue is most likely with you. If you can't figure out why no one likes to work with you, it may be time to appeal to your boss on how you can be a stronger team player.

9. You or your boss frequently need to apologize to clients. It's normal to make a mistake once in a while, but if it isn't normal for your work to necessitate frequent apologies to clients. Whatever the reason, shoddy work damages not just your reputation as an employee, but the company's reputation as a whole. It's best to avoid this situation entirely by frequently examining your work and ensuring it meets or exceeds expectations.

10. You don't accept being told no. Whether from a coworker or boss, at some point in everyone's career, they will be said no to. It's normal to debate, sometimes vigorous conversation can be constructive and beneficial, but if you are absolutely stubborn about rejection, then you'll be a burden instead of an asset. Even if you're completely convinced that you're right, refusing to acknowledge a decision will only damage your reputation.

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