Avoid These Unprofessional Behaviours at Work

We all have bad habits that show up in our personal and professional life. Some of them are so deeply ingrained, we've grown blind to them. Bad habits, in the long term, have a negative impact on your professional reputation. You don't want to be known as someone who fails to deliver, has a poor attitude to work, or engages with colleagues and client in an unprofessional manner. 

The key to changing these bad habits is to become self aware. What are the habits that hinder your ability to perform at optimal levels? Once you identify them, CHANGE them! Here are a few common bad habits that make you look unprofessional in the workplace.


This involves pushing tasks, assignments, project work to the last minute i.e. waiting till the night before a paper/report is due to start working on. It is safe to say that most people (including myself) struggle with working on tasks and projects we aren't excited about. However, procrastination doesn't just affect your work, it has a negative impact on your colleagues and the organization as a whole. Procrastinating may result in missing deadlines, delivering shoddy work, and may eventually lead to your termination if you don't change. 

Tip: Whenever you catch yourself stalling for time, ask yourself why? What is stopping you from working on tasks, especially the important ones? Boredom? Lack of interest? Need more knowledge? Laziness? Whatever the cause, the only way to beat procrastination is to prioritize your 'to dos' and get them done. Just do it!

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today
— Benjamin Franklin

Not Being Result Oriented

It is not unusual to encounter challenges at work. A software or technological glitch that makes you want to pull out your hair, a report that refuses to format correctly, working with problematic team mates, etc. These challenges, though valid, should never be a reason to not deliver on projects/tasks. The difference between a problem-versus-result oriented person is the former focuses on the issues, while the latter focuses on solving the problem. The result oriented person thinks about the end goal and looks for ways to move the work in that direction using available resources.

Tip: Next time you find yourself in a bind, pause and assess the situation. Determine the expected outcome for the project, the current challenge (i.e software issue), and what resources are available to move the project forward (for instance, it is not unusual for my colleagues to reach out to me for help with formatting documents for better presentation). Instead of focusing on the problem, use available resources to get things done.

Entertaining Distractions

Social Media, mobile connectivity capabilities, and non-stop chatter (a.k.a gossip), have made it easier to stay distracted everywhere, including the workplace. It is so easy to get caught up in  updating your social media feed, reading the latest gist on Linda Ikeji's blog, or chilling under the mango tree and talking about the three (3) "aristo" chicks in your office. However, every minute spent on these activities is time not spent on getting work done, which will eventually lead to underperformance.

Tip: Minimize your distractions at work by setting boundaries on idle chatter (avoid office gossip) and limiting your online screen time to your lunch break. Turn off all notifications or put your phone on silent to avoid interruptions.

Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.
— Og Mandino

Poor Attitude

You are not perfect! This means that you are bound to make mistakes that will not go unnoticed. Be open and willing to accept constructive criticism and use the feedback to improve your performance. Don't take it personal when someone offers suggestions on how to improve your work. Listen attentively and avoid being defensive. Also remember to "arrange your face" accordingly when receiving feedback. Pouting or scowling is not a good look.

There is no "I" in team

The workplace is about the collective and not the individual. Everyone plays an important role in the success of the company. Be a great TEAM Player! This means doing your part and helping others who need support. Refrain from passing blame, or throwing people under the bus. This is not a good look. In cases where a team member's deficiency needs to be addressed, focus on the issue and not the person. 

Another aspect of team work is good communication. Make it a habit to offer updates, seek clarification and ask questions, follow up where necessary, and keep information flowing. 

Tip: There are times that you may be called on to do something that falls outside the scope of your position. Your response should NEVER be "this is not my job." Don't do it! If you have capacity and can perform the task, pitch in and help. If you can't handle it, suggest alternatives that will move things forward.

Note: Being a team player doesn't equal minimizing your achievements and contributions to your organization. Remember to keep a "brag sheet" that captures your accomplishments which can be used as leverage when asking for a raise or seeking growth opportunities.

Poor Customer Relations

Customer service in Nigeria is a serious issue on a professional and personal level. I can't say this enough, TREAT PEOPLE WITH RESPECT! This includes colleagues, clients and customers. Be polite, helpful, and patient. Keep all interactions professional and communication should be focused on the issue and not the person. 

I need to stress this, Do NOT blur the lines between professional and personal space in the workplace. Don't 'toast' a client, or ask a customer to pay for your bank online token (this happened to me at GTBank), comment on a person's personal appearance, or be RUDE to the customers, clients or colleagues. Remember that your unprofessional behavior reflect poorly on you and the organization.


You've probably identified one or two habits in the list that you need to change (it's okay, I had to work on a few, too). People who succeed in the workplace are those who are self aware and exercise self discipline. Overcoming these habits will not only set you up for success, but also improve your mindset and confidence as you begin to reap the reward of making better choices for your career growth.

Alright, it's time to let me know which one of these habits you need to stop practicing. Please share in the comment section. Thanks for reading.