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Are your employees killing their own careers?

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Yesterday, we found out something as inconspicuous as the way you speak can potentially damage your career, leading me to wonder if there are more small habits or mistakes people make at work which could have a similar effect on jobs.

As a leader, it is your responsibility to help your team and employees be as engaged and productive as possible, resulting in a win-win situation for both parties and the organisation.

Here are five things you can look out for in your employees to help them get rid of habits they might not even know they have, and get their careers back on track.

1. They’ve been stagnating

When an employee has been in the same job for a number of years, it may be a good time to sit them down for a chat about career aspirations and progression; it’s a fine line between job loyalty and complacency. Sure, organisations need employees who keep the wheels turning, but in today’s day and age companies have an even bigger need for team members who are able to be innovative, disruptive and forward thinking.

If you feel as though a team member is disengaged and no longer providing value to the organisation, see if you’re able to provide job rotation opportunities, or side projects to keep them busy and moving.

2. They’re not building relationships

We’ve all had days where we don’t want any unnecessary human interactions. If we’re being honest, it happens to me at least once a week, often during period where I need quiet time to focus on my work. However, employees who constantly avoid social engagements at the workplace, don’t play well with others, or are building toxic relationships can be a major liability. It’s also worth noting some people are naturally introverted and may take time opening up to the rest of their team.

One way you can support these employees could be through understanding their motivations and drivers, and pairing them with another staff member who could complement their working styles. Encourage them to attend office socials, even if it’s just for half an hour, and embolden them take part in discussions and meetings.

3. They’ve turned into “yes men”

As a boss, it’s nice to have people agree with you. But surrounding yourself with yes men puts you at risk of creating ‘group think’, which is not a healthy or inventive working culture. If you find an employee who goes along with everything the rest of the team suggests, even when they may not agree with it, step in and explain that sometimes, ideas need to be challenged so businesses can remain competitive.

This may be hard, particularly with employees who don’t find it in their nature to speak up, but by cultivating an office which makes staff feel safe to voice out their opinions – and potentially come up with the next great idea – it will pay off in the long run.

4. They’re too good at one thing

Everyone has a specialisation. Sarah may be better at closing deals face-to-face while David might excel at, well, Excel spreadsheets. And while it’s great to be good at one aspect of their job, make sure your colleagues aren’t so focused on just one thing that they will struggle if forced to take on a new role or responsibility.

Employees need to be flexible, nimble and adapt to an ever-changing working environment. Allow them to hone their skills – just make sure they’re not hogging it. Knowledge sharing will give employees a wider scope of abilities, making them a more valuable asset to the organisation.

5. Their work-life balance is non-existent

If you’re receiving emails from employees at 2am, it’s potentially a sign that a) they’ve lost all sense of work-life balance and b) they believe it makes them seem hardworking. Personally, I believe while it’s all right to work a couple hours before or after everyone’s clocked out (I’ve imposed a personal ‘no work emails after 8.30pm’ rule), working past those hours on a fairly regular basis would only go to show I’ve failed at time management.

I’ve met several senior leaders who actively usher employees out of the office in the evening, or out rightly discourage after-hours emails. This drives home the message that you’re serious about employees finding a balance between professional and personal time because a burnout employee does more harm than good.

What tiny actions or habits do you look for to determine if a staff member is on the road to career suicide? What other advice would you give your peers?

Image: Shutterstock

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Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
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