10 Signs That You're A 'Problem' Employee

man in suit twisting the other arm of another man in the suit who is on the groundSelf-awareness is a skill that eludes many. You probably know people who view themselves as rock stars, when the rest of the world knows they're better suited to being part of the fan club. Professionally, it's not unusual for people to have a disconnected sense of their own worth. It's the person who thinks he or she was indispensable, but was, in fact, first to be let go during a layoff. Problem employees, by definition, often don't realize they are, in fact, the problem.

How can you tell if you're wearing a target on your back? Take stock of this list. If many of these items ring true, it's likely you need to adjust your approach to succeed in your workplace.

More: 8 Qualities The Best Employees Have

  1. You say "no" when given a directive from your boss. You don't need to be a "yes man or woman," but there is a time and a place for offering an opinion at work. That time is not when a supervisor hands out assignments. If you're shaking your head (or worse, rolling your eyes in disbelief) when given a new task, you're probably considered "problem employee #1."
  2. You can't take "no" for an answer. Even though you think you have a great idea, if no one else agrees and you can't drop the subject, colleagues and supervisors probably have you pegged as a troublemaker. Maybe you're convinced that you are ahead of your time and everyone else is clueless. If so, maybe it's time to start your own business. When you can't stop harping on the same topic after being told no, it doesn't bode well for your tenure.
  3. You're convinced you are smarter than everyone at work. Perhaps you are, in fact, the most brilliant in your group. However, if you focus too much on thinking you're the brightest bulb –- or, alternatively, about how clueless everyone around you is, it could be a sign that you're a problem employee.
  4. You make a lot of excuses; nothing is ever your fault. You couldn't finish a project because your friend's sister's husband needed surgery? If you never fail to have an excuse instead of on-time work, people notice.
  5. 'Team' is a dirty word for you. Collaboration isn't your middle name? In some organizations, the lone wolf is the first one shown the door. If you break out in hives at the thought of a group project, and they seem to be assigned more and more frequently, it's probably time to find a more suitable job before your boss starts offering you "career counseling."
  6. It's all about you. Whether you like it or not, part of working for someone involves trying to make that person look good. That doesn't mean that the boss should take credit for all your great work, but it does mean one of your priorities is to consider how you can help your boss and team win favor. If you're spending all of your time trying to hog the spotlight, you probably aren't a favorite where you work.
  7. Gossip is your hobby and favorite pastime. You are always in the middle of any negative buzz around the office. If nothing gets past you, and you're the first one to share rumors, especially the most salacious news, you're not winning friends in high places.
  8. You never seem to "get it" the first time. If you're always the one who needs a "do over" for projects, and you don't ever finish work without needing a lot of clarification or hand-holding, it's time to work on your listening skills and learn how to clarify details the first time before you lose your job.
  9. You're a loose cannon. If your boss needs to think twice (or three times) before sending you out to meet clients or customers because he or she is afraid of what impression you'll give them, it's not a good sign for your career. Maybe you have a tendency toward profanity, or perhaps you never know when to stop talking and start listening. Either way, it's not good for your career.
  10. You live for the weekend, and everyone knows it. Work-life fit is important, and it's great to have outside hobbies and interests. However, if you spend your entire week bemoaning the time you're at work and yearning for the end of the week, you may need to get a new job sooner than you'd like.

How to Deal with an Employee with Personal Problems

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Peggy Harris

it wasn't me, it was management, like store management of @GiantEagle, such as JAY ALTELL, TONY DOUGY, KRISTEN HR MANGER, P/S #SALLYLAMARCO.

September 16 2014 at 12:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Good article. Most points are right on. The difference between a loose cannon and a self-directed employee is in the eye of the beholder- a manager vs a leader.

June 22 2013 at 12:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Readers beware the anti-employee angle this artcle/author are coming from.
as if from a master to a slave angle. "how to recognize a problem slave and how to deal with them". its incredible how people actually eat this stuff up. Stop battling your coworkers while the upper management sits back and enjoys the spectacle. Instead, findi solidarity with your similars, and recognize "management" as your adversary, as they attempt to control, humiliate, and lie to you as a standard taught behavior. yes management are trained to lie and decieve the real workers in order to help control them. I've been in such training and could not believe it. i still cant, but on the brite side, this training was the breakthru of my education about the evils that go on, like this article is evil by promoting discord and firing and esssentially the master/slave meme.

June 20 2013 at 11:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim Anderson

you vote democrat!!

June 13 2013 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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May 26 2013 at 11:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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May 26 2013 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

most of those sound like my ex- boss.

May 17 2013 at 12:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Why would anyone keep an employee who displays more than one of those signs? Having just one of those signs would make me want to sit down with an employee and discuss their issues. Having multiple signs would be grounds for termination after the appropriate amount of 'write ups'. Work is work and these days a good job is hard to come by and I wouldn't tolerate anyone making a work place miserable.

May 16 2013 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to vallontina's comment

Many of these are ripe for misinterpretation and excuse making by a supervisor to invent reasons why it is his employee and not himself that is the problem. Saying "no" to a directive is one of the most important responsibilities for an employee. So much of what is directed to an employee is unproductive and demotivating such that it is important to remind a supervisor that he is not a king....he is an employee like everybody else and it is not his right to give directives that only support his personal wants and desitres rather than the company's needs.

May 17 2013 at 5:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


May 17 2013 at 7:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pat Petersen

# 3, 4, 5, 6 are signs of a sociopath. Read "The Sociopath Next Door." Not all sociopaths are criminal, some of them are your co-workers!

May 16 2013 at 2:47 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Pat Petersen's comment

So true!!
There are days anymore where I just absolutely dread going to work. The "throw you under the bus" mentality by many of our younger/newer co-workers who feel it is a way for faster advancement has a few of us who have been there several years looking over our shoulders constantly. With the dread comes the knotting up of the stomach and headaches. I just pray I hold out a few more years until I can take retirement. With my luck though, a heart attack will get me at my work station.

May 16 2013 at 4:11 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to tidavis58's comment

O man. I worked with some kids like that. They were eventually all fired. They were the slick new management team. They were so childish. They laughed about holding interviews and taking bets on how long it would take the applicant to sweat. They didn't know their jobs. They made decisions that left us legally exposed. There was no stopping the TEAM. Except there was. They were canned after several of us left. tidavis, don't give them the satisfaction of a heart attack!

May 17 2013 at 7:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

I have worked at various places, and all the bosses I have had were sorely lacking in people skills. They barked , acted dismissively, disrespected, and treated you as a slave instead of an employee. Most acted as if they owned you.....they called your home after you left for the day, asked you to come back in for some piddly thing without pay, and scheduled mandatory overtime for weeks in a row, as if you had no family that needed you on your days off. When a person works 40 hours on the clock, he has a right for his time off to be his time off. Off the clock means just that, off the clock.

May 16 2013 at 2:45 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to yesiam2000's comment

Why didnt you report them for making you work off the clock?

May 17 2013 at 12:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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