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10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

10 Common but Toxic Career Habits You Need to Break

Your job is stressing you out – it’s ok! It happens to the best of us. But instead of feeling overworked all of the time, take a step back and see what toxic career habits you need to break. Eliminating these negative habits will help you feel rejuvenated, so you can focus on your job with the passion you used to feel.

1. Not taking your lunch break.

It’s easy to work through your lunch break, I know! It really seems like the best solution when you weigh it against staying late. When you do this every day, however, you’re wearing yourself out unnecessarily. Take thirty minutes to enjoy your lunch. How refreshed you feel after will make you feel so much better that you’ll get more done than if you had worked through that entire time. If it doesn’t take you that long to eat, don’t sacrifice the rest of your break! Run an errand or go visit with some coworkers. It’s necessary to take short breaks from work to stay focused in the long run.

2. Not using your paid time off.

Deadline after deadline after deadline means you never get a chance to take your dream vacation! Well, make time! Your boss might not like being without you, but you’ve earned that vacation time, and you deserve to take it. Time off will make you feel refreshed, and by the time you have to get back to work, you’ll feel ready to handle any task that comes your way. If you really can’t take a week vacation to Hawaii, then take a few days here and there to give yourself some long weekends, and treat those as mini-vacations!

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3. Over-explaining yourself.

If you came up with a good idea for a project, let the idea stand on its own. Your boss doesn’t need to know exactly what you were doing when you came up with it, or who inspired you. If you took a personal day, it was because you needed it – you don’t need to share all the drama that surrounded that day. Same with sick days or doctor’s appointments: just say what you need to say and let it stand. If necessary, bring a doctor’s note – that will be story enough for your boss.

4. Not speaking up in meetings.

If something’s on your mind, speak up! If you have a good idea, throw it out there! If you take too long to think it through, you’ll find that someone else will speak up before you, possibly sharing a similar idea. Don’t say every thing that crosses your mind, but also don’t censor yourself prematurely. Sometimes it’s important to put something, anything, out there quickly to show you’re thinking, rather than to stay quiet and overthink an idea that might never be heard.

5. Taking on more than you can handle.

Don’t be afraid to say no to certain job duties. You can only do as much as you can do — if you’re already overworked, nothing will be helped by taking on another project. Turn it down graciously and say you need to fully focus on what’s on your plate now, but would love to work on such projects in the future. Make sure you know your limit so you’re not taking on too much before you can even say no to more.

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6. Repeatedly checking your email.

What a time-waster! We all do it – it takes just one second to see if anything new has popped up in your inbox, but the distraction subtracts minutes from your workday, each time you do it. Set specific times to check your email: when you first get in each morning, after your lunch break and an hour or two before quitting time. You might need to check it more if you’re waiting to hear from someone or are on a deadline, but don’t let yourself check it every five minutes. Stay focused on your task at hand.

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    7. Responding slowly.

    Don’t be that person who checks their email and then lets it sit there! Even if the person hasn’t added a read receipt, over time they’ll know you saw their message and haven’t responded, or they might think you ignored it completely. When you read each email, try to address it right then. Complete the task the email asks, give the information the person needs, or even just fire off a message letting them know you’re on the task. If you don’t reply right away, you’re more than likely going to forget about the email and therefore look like a slacker, or even worse, it’ll weigh heavily on your mind until you can’t think about anything else. Don’t add unnecessary things to your To Do list — take care of these emails as they come along.

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    8. Procrastinating.

    Procrastinating doesn’t just have to be about email! You can put off anything from a major project to a small task that would take no time at all to do. Sometimes it’s just too hard to make yourself do something when it needs to be done. But the longer you put it off, the harder it will be to do it. Just suck it up and do the task when it’s fresh on your mind, and you won’t have it weighing you down in the long run.

    9. Being unprepared.

    Sometimes you forget your lunch or leave your phone at home. Everyone has been unprepared for something, but try not to let it happen at work. Forgetting something every once in a while s understandable, but if it happens too much, it will affect your job. Being unprepared for your work day will throw you off your game, and it’ll be harder for you to accomplish what needs to be done. Being unprepared for a meeting or presentation will make your bosses and coworkers think you’re not together enough to handle the job, or you just don’t care enough to put forth the effort.

    10. Complaining.

    You’re at work – be professional! Yes, it sucks that your boss moved the deadline up by a week, but does complaining help? It just makes you look immature and unprofessional. Even complaining to coworkers will look bad — and you never know who might let something slip to the boss! Not complaining will also help your mood — instead of feeling like everything goes wrong for you and you alone, how pitiful, you can nix those thoughts immediately and make yourself have a better attitude, which will help you get back to business quicker. You’ll be prepared for that deadline before you know it!

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    Featured photo credit: indi.ca via flickr.com

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    Last Updated on December 5, 2018

    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

    How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

    Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

    We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

    How do they do it?

    By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

    1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

    There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

    If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

    2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

    Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

    According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

    Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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    3. Demand Learning from Your Team

    CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

    “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

    His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

    Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

    “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

    Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

    4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

    Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

    Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

    • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
    • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
    • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
    • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
    • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
    • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

    5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

    Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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    Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

    • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
    • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
    • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
    • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
    • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

      “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

    Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

    6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

    The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

    Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

    You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

    7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

    Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

    But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

    On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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    • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
    • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
    • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
    • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

    8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

    Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

    When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

    9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

    The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

    What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

    Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

    10. Empower Your Employees

    Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

    They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

    Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

    You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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    If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

    11. Nurture Your Company Culture

    Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

    Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

    However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

    Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

    Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

    Be a Leader, Not a Boss

    Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

    However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

    In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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