8 Secret Sins of the Office

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Man telling an astonished woman some secretsLast week I was watching ABC’s 20/20 and they featured an interesting topic: Secret sins of the office. What’s a secret sin, though? Apparently, it’s a “no no” while at work; some action (or actions) done in the office environment/on the clock that could quickly lead to your unemployment. I was immediately intrigued.

The pointers were backed by Cynthia Shapiro, a former HR executive and author of Corporate Confidential. We’re always reading someone’s opinion of what to and not to do while at work, and I usually get a kick out of it. ABC’s “insight” was no different. Most of the things on the list are like seriously? I’d get fired for that? But, hey, perhaps that’s why they’re such a secret?

Well, for anyone who missed last week’s episode, I’m here to offer a recap complete with my own “commentary” about how to avoid falling prey to these sinful temptations:

8. Being Mr.Popular

Mr. Popular is just as it sounds…being well known and well liked in the office. You’re the go-to person, the “it” guy or gal. While in high school this may have been on the top of everyone’s list, Shapiro says, as a professional working adult, it should be far from yours. Sharing too much personal information about yourself can get you into trouble quickly. Shapiro says friendships need to be strategically crafted.

Recruiter.com’s advice: Keep a solid line between professional and personal lives. Everyone isn’t your friend in the office and may not have your best interest in mind. Likewise, you don’t want to spread too much personal information about yourself because 1) it may make others uncomfortable knowing certain things about you and 2) you don’t want to hinder management’s perception of you based on happenings outside the office.

7. Multitasking

Even though our bosses may say they want us to work on a bunch of things at once and be “productive,” Shapiro says this isn’t always true. Multitasking makes your performance tank, and dividing your attention between tasks can decrease a worker’s efficiency.

Recruiter.com’s advice: Make a weekly schedule of all the important tasks that must be completed. Decide on the level of importance to arrange the tasks in the order of completion. Allot specific amounts of time for each task, each day. This will ensure you’re getting your work done in a timely manner while still giving each task undivided attention.

6. Talking to HR

Although HR may tell you to come to them for help, Shapiro says be cautious. HR works for the company. They won’t tell other employees what you said, but they will tell your boss depending on the situation.

Recruiter.com’s Advice: Approach your boss, co-worker or whomever you have the issue with in a professional manner. Ask the person if he/she has time to discuss a concern. Remind him or her of what happened and your perspective of the situation. Ask for his or hers to clear up any miscommunication. Then, suggest you both offer plausible solutions to avoid this happening again.

 5. Over decorating

Shapiro claims this can be a career killer because office decorations are an unconscious test of values and loyalties.  If an employee’s office is filled with religious things and troll dolls, it can cause others to make assumptions. If his or her desk is messy and chaotic, that can translate to a messy person. Schapiro also warned about family photos, saying they’re risky because it tells employers you’d rather be at home.

Recruiter.com’s advice: Decorate your desk in whatever way expresses you and makes you relaxed. Always ensure it’s professional, organized and doesn’t include anything that may offend or scare/harm others. After all, your desk is yours but you share the space with others. Be considerate.

4. Bringing kids to work

A child’s bad behavior reflects on his/her parents. Employers will think if the worker cannot control his/her children, how can this person control an office?

Recruiter.com’s advice: Unless it’s bring your child to work day, leave your children at home. If you are going to bring in kids, know your company’s culture and what days and times would be best.

3. Feeding others (bringing in treats)

Shapiro says if you do this too much, you won’t be taken seriously. This is more toward women as she claims bringing in goodies makes women appear as the office mascot or office mom.

Recruiter.com’s advice: Everyone loves treats, but most people are also health conscious. Bake sparingly and with a purpose, i.e. holidays, birthdays, etc. You can also have a volunteer sign up when these days come around so it’s not just one person always bringing in the treats.

2. Signing off with love

“With love” and/or “love” email signatures have no place in business correspondence, Shapiro points out. Don’t send these to clients or your boss, especially.

Recruiter.com’s Advice: Create a standard signature.

1. Working too hard

Even though most Americans are workaholics, 20/20 says this attitude can backfire. Overworking can decrease performance, which will negatively impact a worker’s image.

Recruiter.com’s advice: Take periodic breaks, stop skipping lunch and go home when your shift is over. This may sound lazy or “uncommitted” but your boss simply cares that the work is done and it’s done well. A lot of times stepping away from work helps clear your mind so you’re refreshed and focused when you return.

By Shala Marks