7 Things You Should Stop Doing at Work, If You Want To Be Successful

Claudia Telles
Mar 2, 2017 · 7 min read
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Death to the stock photo

To be successful and outperform at work there are many things you can be doing today that can get you closer to your next promotion and big raise — but there’s also a few things you can stop doing that can get you there.

Both good and bad behaviors are universal in the workplace. Some even increase your success, IF you stop doing them.

You can easily stop some of the behaviors today, while others might take a bit longer to give up.

Let’s get started!

1. Avoid Complaining

You don’t have to walk around with a big fake smile on your face saying how everything is perfect but… you do have to be pleasant and professional in the workplace.

What I have noticed is once people get comfortable in their role they start talking to their co-workers and even managers about how they dislike everything. They complain about how bad the free coffee is in the break room or how bad and stupid the new policy is.

It’s not bad to be speak out your mind, but it holds you back when you don’t position it appropriately.

Before complaining or commenting ask yourself…

“Is my comment going to make a positive impact in the workplace?” or “is this comment worth losing a promotion over?”

Sometimes we don’t think about what we’re saying because it seems harmless… but over time, people dislike being around someone who complains and adds no solutions to the problem. They’re also less likely to get promoted.

Leaders uplift, not drag down.

Instead, if you do have a situation that you think will impact the company say something, tell them why it’s important and what may be at stake.

2. Talk to Talk

We all know that person at work who talks most of the time but contributes nothing to the group.

When people ramble on and on and fail to communicate their message or get to the point, others see them as incompetent. Due to the rambler taking the meeting out of tangent, they are later omitted from meetings or are avoided by others members of the group even though they may have a lot to contribute.

One thing to prevent yourself from being or becoming the rambler, try to say your message in 2–3 sentences (less than 2 minutes). If it takes you longer, you don’t have a clear message or you’re giving too much unnecessary information.

Use the following method.

Your standpoint (I agree, I disagree, A better way to …)

and the reasoning (because, therefore)

Make it short and clear. Now, if they ask for more information, answer only the question asked. Many of us like to give too much information because we either want to show our expertise or because it may be complex and we want to educate our audience.

Ex. If you don’t know much about technology and your computer breaks down, you don’t want or need to know how a computer is made and how it works. All you want to know is… can it be fixed? how long will it take? and how much does it cost?

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3. Finger Pointing

A habit managers and colleagues hate is finger pointing or passing the blame to others but yourself. It doesn’t offer a solution and it still doesn’t get the work done any faster whether it’s your fault or not. It just builds and boils resentment, frustration and annoyance.

Examples of finger pointing:

“I didn’t get the chance to get the project done, Sally submitted the information late”

“I can never meet deadlines because accounting is too slow to submit reports”

“Sorry, I couldn’t attend the important meeting, I had a lot of work to catch up on”

“I’m so busy because Sally is out so I’m stuck doing her work”

Are you guilty of any of the above? If so, make a plan for it. If you have a department or person who is always late on their work and impacts your flow you can do one of the following:

  • Set a deadline a few days earlier to the department or person that is always late, so it gives you enough wiggle room to meet deadline
  • Mention and communicate it’s a priority
  • CC your boss (it helps with keeping people accountable)
  • Have a conversation with the department/person and ask how you can help in speeding up the process
  • Update expectations (either speak to your boss that a realistic timeline to get X work done is 5 days not 3 days due to the current system)

The worst part is when you blame others but don’t take responsibility for your part even if it’s not entirely your fault. It diminishes your brand and slows down your career potential.

People who are in leadership and management positions get the job done despite the circumstance because they take ownership.

4. Silencer

The silent employee is on the opposite side of the rambler and we shall call them the ‘silencer’. You may see the silencer in meetings or in group projects but they never say or contribute anything to the group. The meeting would have the same outcome whether they were there or not.

I read an article about a previous employee who worked with Elon Musk. Elon expects everyone at the meeting to contribute to the meetings either by commenting valid points based on their expertise or to offer possible solutions and/or outcomes.

Next time you go to a meeting, pay attention if you’re the rambler or the silencer. Then, think about how you can contribute to the dialogue with clear and short communication.

5. Maintain Status Quo

To stand out from the herd, you have to be different by leading and innovating. One of the principles of Lean Six Sigma is, know your job and leave it in a better condition than when you came in. Don’t just do your job, find ways to improve it and make it easier on yourself.

Example: You work in accounting and your work takes 3 business days per client, find ways you can do the work in 2 days. This can be done by creating shortcuts in your desktop (it avoids wasting time looking for frequently used documents), following a checklist, staying organized, etc…

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6. Work without Focus

We go to work day in and day out and leave feeling like we barely got anything accomplished. Post-its surround your work space and seldom get thrown out. Pretty soon, your entire office/cubicle decor will be colorful post-its.

Does this sound familiar?

If so, it’s probably because you’re doing busy work that doesn’t reap rewards and soon you’ll find yourself lost in a daze stuck at a dead end job with an endless to-do list. Being focused and strategic at work lands you promotions, salary raises and job offers.

A secret to staying focused is to pick 3 objectives that align with your performance goals. This will be your priority since it’s what managers base of promotions and salary increases from.

Write your 3 performance objectives and post it somewhere visible in your work station (Don’t use a post-it! Instead print it in a 8.5x11 paper). Every day, contribute to one of the 3 objectives in some way and everything else is just busy work. By the time you get near to your performance review, you will have addressed and met your performance objectives.

7. Stop Assuming

I’ve seen this habit impact so many across industries despite their years of experience — yet they wonder why they’re in the same position and never move ahead.

One key rule for your career success…Do not assume anything, even common sense.

  • Do not assume your boss knows you want a raise or a promotion
  • Don’t assume because you’ve been working really hard, you’ll get recognized for it
  • Don’t assume your boss knows you’re unhappy with your current role or pay
  • Don’t assume the person who you got passed for a promotion was a “kiss ass” or was given “hand me downs” or a “free pass”

Instead, learn from the situation and make sure you’re not making assumptions. One way to prevent yourself from making assumptions, ask yourself “Is there another possibility?”.

Ex. “I will definitely get the promotion, I’ve been working really hard. My boss, must have noticed how hard I’ve been working”.

“Is there another possibility?”

Yes, my boss hasn’t realized how hard I’ve been working because I haven’t communicated it.


My boss doesn’t even know I am interested in the promotion and perhaps won’t even be considered.

Want more? Check out my free training video “How To Answer The Most Common Interview Questions”.

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