5 Things That Make You Less Productive (& Popular) At The Office

Are you finding that your days are less productive than you’d like? Are you developing an unpopular repuation at the office, but don’t know why? Perhaps you’re doing one of the following five things guaranteed to slow down progress and aggravate your peers.

1. Being Late To Meetings

Maybe you’re the boss. Or, maybe you’re assigned the firm’s biggest case. It’s possible you had a really important phone call that ran long.

But, whatever the reason, there is no excuse for being late to a meeting. First, meetings are usually on the books well ahead of time, which means you should not have scheduled that phone call with a client a mere 30 minutes before.

And yes, you may be the boss so you’re time is most valuable. But, when you force 10 employees to wait 10 minutes for you to grace them with your presence, that’s a lot of misspent billable hours. It may actually exceed the value of your own.

Furthermore, if you interrupt a meeting that has already started, you may not be able to catch up on the subject-matter, which—in turn—makes you less essential to your team and less prepared for the work at hand.

Finally, even if there is a mildly-acceptable excuse for your tardiness, employees (and certainly managers) tend to dislike those colleagues who are habitually late to meetings. It shows a lack of respect to your peers and lack of time-management skills to your bosses.

It’s time to be on time.

If you’re having trouble finding the time, delegate. Take The Center For Competitive Management’s (C4CM) audio course Effective Delegation: Strategies to Improve Performance and Productivity, and discover strategies to improve your law firm’s productivity and performance.

2. Take a phone call or check an e-mail while talking with a colleague

Law firm professionals have all done this at one point or another. It’s hard to ignore your Blackberry, especially when it’s pinging over and over. It’s instinct to look down, check your phone, and claim to be still listening.

The problem is, you’re not listening. And, most likely, the other person has stopped talking. Why? It’s impossible to take somebody seriously (or be taken seriously) when you’re faced with the top of a person’s head.

The quickest way to lose productivity in a conversation (and the respect of your peer) is to prioritize incoming mail to their in-person dialogue.

Don’t look down at your phone. Don’t even faux-pologetically say, “excuse me,” because, again, there’s no excuse for this type of behavior.

Double booked? Cope with multi-tasking, too many projects, and all those pesky incoming phone calls by taking C4CM’s course Effective Time Management: Take Control, Tackle Work Flow Chaos and Overcome Productivity Challenges.

3. Live on e-mail or the phone

Although there are many reasons to be grateful for today’s digital universe, don’t live virtually. You’re not an avatar. You’re a real person. So, think about whether or not it’s easier to get up from your desk, and have certain conversations in person.

On occasion, show your face around the office. There’s nothing more aggravating and counter-productive as receiving a phone call or e-mail from your colleague in the cubicle or office next door.

Are you hiding behind a domain name? Some conversations are difficult to have. But, that’s no excuse to resort to impersonal e-mail. Learn how to say in-person: “You’ve been accused of sexual harassment”…“Your performance is unacceptable”…“Your colleagues have complained about an offensive odor coming from your cubicle.” Take C4CM’s course Handling Difficult Conversations: Communication Strategies for the Workplace.

4. Don’t learn from your mistakes

Oops. You tapped reply-all instead of reply. It happens.

But, it shouldn’t happen twice.

The quickest way to lose favor and office-place efficiency is by repeating your mistakes. If you have problems with reply-all, then disable that feature on your e-mail service.

If you have a bad habit of misspelling the same word, then delete it from your MS Word dictionary. That way, each time the word appears, you must manually check it for errors.

Be proactive about learning from your mistakes and you’ll become much more productive around the office.

When it comes to learning from mistakes… document, document, document! Many organizations either fail to document or do not document correctly. Poor documentation can be just as hazardous to your company as no documentation at all. Learn about Best Practices for Developing and Maintaining Effective Documentation Practices with C4CM’s Guide.

5. Participate in workplace gossip

Workplace gossip can wreak havoc on an organization. It’s a morale killer.  It breeds resentment and becomes a roadblock to effective communication and collaboration.

Nevertheless, it’s human nature to complain, everybody gossips. You can choose, however, to ignore it. Become a one-man black hole. Gossip goes in, but never returns.

If you find yourself in desperate need to gossip, call a friend outside the office. Tell them the same story, but with the comfort of knowing that it won’t return full-circle to your colleagues in question. If you’re having a rough day with the boss, don’t walk next door to complain. Walk around the block.

Your office—and managers—know which employees participate in toxic talk. And, rest assured, gossiping is not part of the positive points on your performance review.

Managers can learn to minimize the effects of toxic talk with proper training. Consider C4CM’s course, Effective Management of Workplace Gossip.

Curb a few, if not all, of these unpopular and unproductive behaviors and you will find, finally, just reward for your work.

-WB

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