Skip to Content

3 Things You Should Never Do at Work


The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “What are the three most unprofessional things an employee can do on the job?” is by Kris Duggan, co-founder and CEO of BetterWorks.

In a world where the definition of professionalism is changing drastically, coming to an agreement on what defines a “bad corporate citizen” is nearly impossible. What some may deem unprofessional, others find quirky. However, when employees don’t do the following three things, I can’t help but second-guess their professionalism:

Refusal to collaborate
When employees don’t play well with others, so to speak, I can’t help but notice because it puts roadblocks up for the rest of the team. A study by McKinsey found the average worker spends an estimated 20% of their work week looking for internal information or tracking down colleagues who can help with specific tasks. When employees don’t support their peers, work bottlenecks and everyone loses. The most professional employees work well with others and prioritize communication to stay aligned with other teams.

See also: 3 Ways You’re Blowing Your Professional Reputation

Clamming up
Today, social skills and consistent communication between managers and employees is crucial in the workplace. Even if you’re in a job that doesn’t require daily face-to-face meetings, a true professional will communicate to his or her manager where they’re facing roadblocks and seek advice. Similarly, managers should have a genuinely positive attitude about coaching and wanting to help employees get better at their jobs. This manager-employee relationship is a two way street, and it looks unprofessional for both parties when there’s a lack of communication.

Failure to be respect of others’ time
Startup founders like me can probably relate to feeling extremely bootstrapped for time not just for yourself, but for your employees too. When you’re contributing during the beginning stages of a company, there is so much to do and so little time. Every unnecessary or poorly planned meeting that takes place is a true waste of bandwidth for highly talented employees. Those who waste time, like starting a meeting late, failing to create an agenda, or meeting just for the sake of having another meeting, come across as very unprofessional.