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Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Millennium Magazine Staff

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5 Things You Should Never Do at Work!

5 Things You Should Never Do at Work!

Written by John D. Moore

As a career counselor and college educator, I have worked with scores of people who have found themselves in deep trouble with their employer because they unintentionally did some things that caused them to be disciplined. The “penalties” run the gambit – from having to endure an informal “sit-down” talk with the boss to a formal write up that is placed in the employee’s file. Other behaviors, however, have resulted in more serious actions – meaning termination.

What follows are five specific things that you should never do at work. I mention these because I have personally sat with clients who were in utter shock who walked into my office just hours after getting canned for things they never thought would get them into trouble.

Some of what follows may seem like common sense while others points will make you think and reflect. Read them all so you are able to fully absorb their deeper meaning. Are you ready? Let’s jump right in!

5 Workplace No No’s!

1. Don’t use company e-mail for private correspondence

This may seem like a no-brainier but it is worth mentioning. I had a client who replied to a friend’s email and did so using his company issued email account. The electronic exchange was about how both of these individuals went out the night before and partied using illicit substances. My client responded to his friend’s email in a way that revealed way too much personal information and confirmed his drug use.

Because his organization uses a filter to “sniff” out certain keywords, the email was “red-flagged” for review. At the end of the day, he was written up for violating the company’s IT policy and placed on probation. He was also required to undergo ongoing drug testing because he works in a DOT related job.

Bottom line: Never use company email for private, outside of work conversations – ever. And before you decide to use your personal email account (i.e. G-Mail) … keep reading.

2. Use caution with smart-phone and company WI-FI

Many employers offer Wi-Fi to employees as a way of connecting their electronic devices. This is a nice benefit to be sure. But did you know that once you connect your smart-phone (or laptop) to an organization’s network that they may have access to your data?

I have had two business students share with me that they were pulled into human resources for sharing pictures over the company’s Wi-Fi that were considered “adult” in nature. In both cases, the students were exchanging selfies with their significant other. And in both cases, the employees were formally written up for violating the company’s IT policy and placed on probation. Yep – that’s right, their selfies “captured” when the images passed through the company firewall.

Bottom line: When you hook up your electronic devices (smart-phone, PAD, laptop) to your company’s WI-FI network, you may be giving them access to your personal information. Switch to your smart-phone’s satellite network if you must communicate something private and think twice about sending anything that could remotely come back to bite you.

3. Don’t trash your bosses in a company survey

Have you ever received a company survey that asks you to rate your employer (and boss) in the form of an “e-survey”? Were you told that the information you shared would be “confidential”? If so, you need to know there is a big difference between confidential and anonymous.

I recently had a client share during a counseling session that she was fired by her employer of 20-years. This happened 2-weeks after she had completed a “confidential” workplace survey. The long and the short of it was that she used this feedback tool to bash her boss and the company CEO. Her big mistake was that she typed in a series of ugly comments in the white-box area that asked for “comments”.

While her employer did not specifically mention the survey as the reason for her termination, they used other reasons to can her. She found out later “unofficially” from someone in HR that her survey remarks was why she was 86’d. And because she works in an Employment at Will state, she had very little recourse except to file unemployment. At 55-years old, she is struggling to find a new job.

Bottom line: Confidential and anonymous are two completely different constructs. Anything you do online can be traced. While it is important to give meaningful feedback on employer surveys, don’t use it to bash your boss or company leadership! Keep your remarks professional and assume whatever you say can (and will) be traced.

4. Avoid letting your picture tagged on social media

I had a client who worked for a major airline as a flight attendant supervisor. He called off work one morning and shared with the carrier that he needed to take a sick day – citing a case of the flu for his absence. Later that afternoon, he took his 12-year old son (let’s call him Eddie) to the zoo for an afternoon of fun. While they were checking out the reptile exhibit, Eddie decided to take a selfie of him and his dad with snakes slivering around in the background.

Later that night, little Eddie posted the selfie on Facebook. He then tagged his dad in the photo, which attached to his pop’s “Wall”.

Guess who saw the picture – his employer.

The next day, my client was fired on the spot for lying about “being sick”. And I need to state here that he was already on thin ice for other issues. The day at the zoo, however, was the final thing his employer needed to 86 his job.

Bottom line: Be mindful of where pictures of you are taken and when. If a bunch of your co-workers are on your social media accounts, you are giving them access to your private life. By extension, you are likely giving your employer this same access. All it takes is one person to “share” something with your boss or HR group.

5. Don’t use open door policies to backstab your boss

Most all organizations have an “Open Door” policy. This means you can bring an issue to a company executive to help clear up a problem or report an issue. In most cases, these kinds of policies help a company identify challenge areas and resolve dilemmas. Great stuff – huh?

Here is the deal – if you use the “Open Door” to go to your immediate supervisor’s head to complain about problems that you have not first tried to address one on one with him or her, you are potentially creating a dynamic where your supervisor will feel blindsided, back-stabbed and resentful.

I have had several clients go over their supervisor’s head without first trying to work things out and it caused them major problems. The end result is they were tagged for not being “team-players” and ended up being on their bosses “S” list. I recognize it this is not supposed to happen but guess what – it does!

Bottom line: Obviously, use open door policies to report ethics violations or illegal behaviors. Don’t, however, use your ability to speak to a company executive to report departmental problems that rightfully should be discussed with your supervisor first. If you receive no satisfaction after first speaking with your boss about a problem, do yourself a giant favor and let your supervisor know you will be speaking to her or his manager via open door. Your supervisor will appreciate this and be mentally prepared for the issue you are escalating.

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