Self-awareness is a skill that eludes many. You probably know people who view themselves as rock stars, when the rest of the world knows they're better suited to being part of the fan club. Professionally, it is not unusual for people to have a disconnected sense of their own worth. It's the person who thinks he or she was indispensable, but was, in fact, first to be let go during a layoff. Problem employees, by definition, often don't realize they are, in fact, the problem.
How can you tell if you're wearing a target on your back? Take stock of this list. If many of these items ring true, it is likely you need to adjust your approach to succeed in your workplace.
You say ‘no’ when given a directive from your boss. You don't need to be a ‘yes man or woman,’ but there is a time and a place for offering an opinion at work. That time is not when a supervisor hands out assignments. If you are shaking your head (or worse, rolling your eyes in disbelief) when given a new task, you are probably considered problem employee #1.
You can't take ‘no’ for an answer. Even though you think you have a great idea, if no one else agrees and you can't drop the subject, colleagues and supervisors probably have you pegged as a troublemaker. Maybe you're convinced that you are ahead of your time and everyone else is clueless. If so, maybe it's time to start your own business. When you can't stop harping on the same topic after being told no, it doesn't bode well for your tenure.
You are convinced you are smarter than everyone at work. Perhaps you are, in fact, the most brilliant in your group. However, if you focus too much on thinking you're the brightest bulb –- or, alternatively, about how clueless everyone around you is, it could be a sign that you're a problem employee.
You make a lot of excuses; nothing is ever your fault. You couldn't finish a project because your friend's sister's husband needed surgery? If you never fail to have an excuse instead of on-time work, people notice.
'Team' is a dirty word for you. Collaboration isn't your middle name? In some organizations, the lone wolf is the first one shown the door. If you break out in hives at the thought of a group project, and they seem to be assigned more and more frequently, it's probably time to find a more suitable job before your boss starts offering you ‘career counseling.’
It's all about you. Whether you like it or not, part of working for someone involves trying to make that person look good. That doesn't mean that the boss should take credit for all your great work, but it does mean one of your priorities is to consider how you can help your boss and team win favor. If you're spending all of your time trying to hog the spotlight, you probably aren't a favorite where you work.
Gossip is your hobby and favorite pastime. You are always in the middle of any negative buzz around the office. If nothing gets past you, and you're the first one to share rumors, especially the most salacious news, you're not winning friends in high places.
You never seem to ‘get it’ the first time. If you're always the one who needs a ‘do over’ for projects, and you don't ever finish work without needing a lot of clarification or hand-holding, it's time to work on your listening skills and learn how to clarify details the first time before you lose your job.
You're a loose cannon. If your boss needs to think twice (or three times) before sending you out to meet clients or customers because he or she is afraid of what impression you'll give them, it's not a good sign for your career. Maybe you have a tendency toward profanity, or perhaps you never know when to stop talking and start listening. Either way, it's not good for your career.
You live for the weekend, and everyone knows it. Work-life fit is important, and it's great to have outside hobbies and interests. However, if you spend your entire week bemoaning the time you're at work and yearning for the end of the week, you may need toget a new job sooner than you'd like.