Careers

4 bad habits that can destroy your career

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Good professional habits like dressing well or writing concise emails can separate great employees from good ones.

Bad habits have an effect as well, but professionals are often unaware of their own shortcomings or how to change them, according to David Maxfield, bestselling author and workplace expert who holds a Ph.D. in psychology.

"Poor habits over time can absolutely derail a person's career," Maxfield, vice president of research at corporate training company VitalSmarts, tells CNBC. "And most often they are not aware of what they're doing."

According to the psychologist, these four habits can hold even the most hard-working or well-intentioned professional back:

1. Cutting corners on projects or missing deadlines

Just as teachers can tell if a student is talking in class, bosses can tell if an employee is cutting corners on projects or missing deadlines, Maxfield says. Even if your boss doesn't happen to notice right away, he or she will eventually observe that your work is just average.

Employees should "go the extra mile to produce great quality work," he says.


2. Failing to follow through

Many professionals nod their heads and agree when a boss has a good idea, but fail to follow through, the author says. This frustrates bosses and gives them the sense that the employee is disorganized or unreliable.

In fact, a marriage therapist says that following through on tasks your boss discusses with you is one of the surest ways to make them feel respected.

Best-selling author David Maxfield researches workplace problems and solutions.
VitalSmart
Best-selling author David Maxfield researches workplace problems and solutions.

3. Having a negative attitude

Emotions are contagious, research shows. If you have a bad attitude, your boss will notice.

"Finding fault before looking for benefits" and "being overly critical of others" are two habits that could make your manager think less of you.

"Poor habits, over time, can absolutely derail a person's career." -David Maxfield, bestselling author and VP of research at VitalSmarts

4. Repeating mistakes or failing to take responsibility for them

Everyone makes mistakes, but strong performers take ownership of their blunders and avoid repeating them.


Maxfield says that "deflecting blame, not take responsibility or repeating the same mistakes" are common errors employees don't realize they may be making continuously.

"New habits almost always require new skills," Maxfield says. "You can't succeed by willpower alone."

How to ditch the bad habits 

To stop making these mistakes, Maxfield suggests looking for the "invisible influences" around you.

For example, do you structure your day in a way that makes it difficult to meet deadlines? Do you display a bad attitude because you consistently get too little sleep? Do you have trouble saying "no" to other people?

Once you start to uncover the causes of your behavior, you can adjust your habits to work in your favor.

"Recognize those influences," he says, "and then bring them over to your side. Create a plan."