The military ingrained you with traits and values that, whether you like it or not, will stick with you for the rest of your life. But despite these traits, that sudden taste of freedom as your DD214 is being placed in your hand can start to cloud your judgment. Suddenly sleeping in starts to sound so good. Respect for those above you in the workplace starts to dwindle when you realize they don’t wear rank in the civilian world. And before you know it, you’ve got a whole slew of bad habits you never had before.
There are some habits that can adversely affect your performance, annoy your co-workers or worse: cost you your job. Breaking bad habits is never easy or quick. Research tells us it takes an average of 66 days of positive behavior to change. Below is our list of the top three bad habits in the workplace and advice on how to break them.
Don’t Be Late
Deadlines, start times or lunch dates – don’t be late. It speaks volumes about how you prioritize your life. If you’re late to work, people notice. If you’re late for deadlines you’re suppose to meet, people notice. Being late says you don’t respect the job, the people or yourself. Being late is lazy and riddled with procrastination – and everyone knows it.
Break the habit: Get a good watch and be prepared for the day. Yes, you must watch the clock. Yes, you must budget in travel time and yes, you must leave a delicious lunch when service is slow to get back to the office on time. Also, keep a tight calendar and be prepared for the day or week. Knowing what is expected and preparing for it allows you to work effectively and efficiently. You want to be noticed at work, but not for being lazy, disorganized or apathetic – because that is what being late means.
No, you’re not good at it. Research has proven that multitasking is the least effective way to work. If you’re going do something, be good at it – don’t phone it in. Most people want to work next to or for someone who is steady, consistent, reliable and calm. Multitasking represents none of those. You may marvel at how you do it all, but most are exhausted being around you.
Break the habit. Stay on task – no matter how boring or long it takes. Clear your workspace of clutter to keep you focused. Be prepared for the day, it allows you to better manage your time and stay on task. Watch the clock – yes, it does rule the work place. Close your e-mail window and turn off the volume on your phone. You look like Pavlov’s dog every time you hear the ding, chirp or disco tune. You may not fully understand which distractions are forcing you to multitask, but clutter and distraction are usually at the heart of the problem.
Don’t be a porcupine.
Being a porcupine means being defensive. It means you’re hard to be around for fear of being shot by a quill – or being scoffed at. There is nothing worse than a co-worker, an employee or the boss taking on a defensive stance in meetings or conversations. It creates walls where communication cannot get through without a fight. It allows for workplace bullying and it fosters negativity.
Break the habit. If you can’t say anything nice (constructive), then don’t say anything at all. If you are not adding to the discussion in a positive way, you are taking away the flow of ideas and communications. Body language counts, too. Take a moment of self-reflection when you feel yourself getting defensive. Pause and rephrase the first thing that you want to say into something positive. Remember, it’s hard to hug to porcupine.