Think you're pulling the wool over your coworkers' eyes when you're not pulling your weight around the workplace? Think again. Not only do your colleagues notice, but they're probably starting to resent you for having to pick up your slack. Nip your underperformance problem in the bud with these six signs that you're the weakest link, and help bring balance back to an otherwise out-of-sync office.
1. Taking Credit For Something You Didn't Do
Everybody knows there's no 'I' in team, but your co-workers are starting to realize that there are a few 'I's in "biggest jerk in the office" if you're grandstanding about accomplishments that were a group effort – especially if it's to make up for your lack of contribution in the first place. Everyone on the team should share in group wins equally, but more importantly, each person should be giving their all to the effort, so that win can be attributed to everyone on the team. If you're prone to riding the coattails of others, it's time to break that habit and work harder for your money.
2. Arriving Late and Leaving Early
Showing up a few minutes late here and there isn't a huge problem, but if you're strolling into the office six minutes late everyday and leaving five minutes early – which probably seems innocuous, because it's a small amount of time in each instance – you're not being respectful of your position or all your colleagues who are there at the beginning and end of their shifts every day. And if you think about it, those 11 paid minutes a day that you're skipping out on really add up. If you operate on that hypothetical schedule for five days a week, you've wasted nearly an entire hour of your company's time – and that won't go over well for long.
"People who are chronically late either don't see it as a problem, or don't think the people around them care; neither are true," says Chad Reid, director of communications for an online form builder. "While habitually late people are typically late to things well beyond the office, it can be addressed."
If this sounds like you, you're likely in need of a routine change that could include going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, preparing for the next day ahead of time, altering your route to work, or other time-saving measures that could save your job.
3. Spending Too Much Time on Social Media
Many of us have integrated social media into our jobs, and for some of us it's actually a requirement that we keep up our companies' presences online. Fair enough. But just because managing social media accounts is in your job description, that doesn't give you carte blanche to spend endless hours browsing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (unless that's what you were specifically hired to do), nor does it mean that you can access your personal accounts for prolonged periods of time while your tasks at hand are neglected. Your co-workers won't be happy if your project is late but your online statuses are always up to date, and your boss eventually will want to have a word with you if your social media usage starts to affect your performance.
One of the biggest ways to reveal your lack of engagement is to be active on social media but not active in meetings, via email, and in general interactions with colleagues," says career coach Jane Scudder. "The way to avoid this? Of course, number one is to be more engaged within your role. Another is to limit your social media presence during work hours."
If you're a slave to social media at work, take measures to reduce how much time you spend on it by shutting off your phone or placing it in a place that's not readily accessible (like a drawer or cabinet), manually block the sites you know you're prone to visit, or schedule social media time to get your fix, but limit it to only a few minutes or just on your lunch break.
4. Enjoying Extended Lunch Breaks
Speaking of lunch breaks… if you're taking leisurely lunches – 35 or 40 minutes instead of the allotted half-hour or more than an hour if you have that luxury – it's time to reel it in. Just like arriving late and leaving early, self-extending your lunch break is not only unethical and rude, but it's also akin to stealing money from your employer because you're still stuffing your face with your sandwich instead of manning your position at your desk and fulfilling that day's duties for which you're being paid.
While this habit is noticeable if you leave the office for lunch – because at least one of your coworkers is totally clocking you – it's much easier to take extra time for yourself if you prefer to eat at your desk. It's not always a problem, of course, but if your work pace is affected and your coworkers have noticed, it's time to assess the situation and reevaluate your lunch strategy.
5. Slowing Down Operations With Non-Workplace Issues
Office camaraderie is important to a productive and motivated workspace – you don't have to be friends with your co-workers, but you should get along – so engaging in non-work banter can be beneficial to day-to-day operations. If you're commandeering the conversation, however, and sucking up valuable work time with outside issues that hold everyone else up – like relationship drama, sappy kid stories, or questionable tales of your weekend activity – you're weaving a web of negativity that will affect everyone around you. To stay on everyone's good side, limit your banter and anecdotes of home life to times when everyone can kick back and relax for a few minutes, contribute, and enjoy the conversation.
6. Delegating the Lion's Share of Work to Subordinates
If you're in a position of authority, it's critical to toe the line carefully in order to excel at your job, gain and maintain the respect of your colleagues, and set yourself up for promotion. You'll need to delegate some of the work, of course (that's in your job description), but if you're delegating so much of the work that your minions are doing the lion's share of it while you sit back and watch, you run the risk of running yourself right out the door. Just because you're in a boss-type position doesn't mean you get to be bossy. Delegate responsibilities fairly, and avoid establishing a trap that befalls many professionals who dole out orders – becoming a tyrant who thinks they're above the grunt work. Unless you own the company, you're still on somebody's payroll, and you need to fulfill your duties at or (ideally) above expectations if you'd like to be seen as a good leader and, you know, remain employed.
This article first appeared at Wise Bread.