5 Ways to Ruin Your Work Reputation

When it comes to the workplace, one wrong move can set you back and ruin your work reputation significantly. We work so hard to build a professional, accountable relationship. Anything that can ruin that quality reputation should be avoided at all costs. You already know 27 habits that can kill your career, and 6 things you should never do at work. Now, it’s time to discuss habits that could ruin your professional reputation if you aren’t careful.

5 Ways to Ruin Your Work Reputation

#1 Striving for Perfection

This is a tough one. It’s easy to always want your work and the results you provide to be perfect, however that need for perfection could be sending the wrong signals. Friend and Foe authors Adam Galinsky and Maurice Schweitzer argue that striving to be seen as perfect in the workplace can limit your ability to build trust.

Their book references a 1966 study that suggests minor mistakes and owning up to them can make a person more likeable. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on doing the job to the best of your abilities. Your humble attitude and best results will result in praise.

#2 Lying

We’ve mentioned building trust in the section above. It’s an absolute requirement of building solid work relationships (or any relationship, for that matter), and gives you another level of accountability. Lying is another sure-fire way to raise eyebrows and ruin your reputation. Obviously, big lies are never good, but neither are the small, white lies.  White lies, or lies you get caught up in saying one thing to one person and the opposite to a different person can affect how people view you.

Eric Schiffer of ReputationManagementConsultants.com says, “You don’t want to get known as a chameleon. Don’t tell one thing to one co-worker and then an entirely different thing to your boss. Word gets around faster than you think.” Avoid uncomfortable conversations, or raised eyebrows by being honest about what comes out of your month.

#3 Forgetting the Small Stuff

Advancing in one’s career is something we all strive for. We want to excel and succeed in life, and that starts with our career. However, focusing too much on advancement and forgetting the little details along the way can hinder you.  Brand building starts the first day of your job. Focus on the job responsibilities you currently have, and fulfill them to the best of your abilities. A lack of attention to detail can haunt you as you look to move up in the company.

#4 Not Being a Team Player

To grow in your career, you have to manage lateral relationships first and foremost. Those are the people equal to you, whether on your team or on a similar team. Showing that you have a strong interest in the success of your team and being willing to help lift the team, even if it means you have to take on more work, will speak volumes about your character. It helps to build relationships with your team members as well. You don’t have to force a friendship, but genuine interest goes a long way.

Another way to show you aren’t a team player, and kill your reputation at the same time, is throwing people under the bus.  If something goes wrong, are you quick to point fingers? If so, you could be viewed as separate from the team, or working against the team. This can lead to resentment you’re your peers.

According to Tom Gimbel, president and CEO at LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based staffing firm, “Whether a co-worker had a typo in a project you spearheaded, or there was a mistake in a presentation a colleague proofed, take accountability. No one wants to be thrown under the bus.”

#5 Calling Out or Taking Vacation at an Important Time

There’s no doubt that you should fully use the vacation and personal time allotted to you, you just don’t need to take it during a crucial time at work.

Julie Hschheiser Ilkovich, career expert and co-founder of Masthead Media says, “If you call in sick the week a big project is due, or if you take vacation during the busiest month of the year, you’re going to look like a person who isn’t there and doesn’t care. You have to make an effort to control your absences during key times for your business.”

Emergencies come up, so if you genuinely have to miss work during a busy period, do your best to stay engaged by working from home, adjusting your schedule, or taking important meetings via teleconference. Your ability to show you are doing the best you can to be there for the team will show your value.

Related: 9 Things to Never Say at Work


Whether you want to be at your job or in your current role, you still need to perform with grace. As we mentioned earlier, your brand starts building the minute your career begins. You won’t be in your current role or with your current company forever. Focus on your tasks at hand and be a team player. It will pay off in the future. Have you had a bad experience at work? Have you ever ruined your work reputation? If so, how did you build it back? Post a comment below to share your work experiences and professional reputation tips!

-The CGS Team



1 thought on “5 Ways to Ruin Your Work Reputation”

  1. In the past, I’ve had teammates who would call out or take vacation during the busiest time of the month (for them specifically). I really think it shows a lack of caring, and people certainly notice. Always schedule vacation around lighter days so your peers don’t have to pick up more slack than necessary!

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