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The Exhausted Woman
with Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC

Hidden Reasons for Poor Work Performance

This was the third poor performance review that Gretchen received at her job. Her boss was puzzled. Gretchen said she always dreamt of being a designer and finally got this job after working in several other low-end positions. But now that she was here, her performance was far below average.

While there can be socioeconomic reasons for underperformance, after many years of working, a person is usually able to rise above even the most difficult of times. But Gretchen was not. This was not about being successful or accomplishing a goal, rather it was about her inability to perform up to the basic minimum standards of her job.

When Gretchen was younger, any underperformance was simply a lack of motivation or inspiration. But once she obtained her dream job, some things should have been resolved. Desperate to find solutions, her boss asked Gretchen to self-evaluate the following potential career busters.

  1. Entitlement: Many wrongly believe that just because they are a certain age or have obtained a certain career level that this demands greater respect, salary, or professional title. An attitude of “I deserve more than what I am getting,” can actually deplete the motivation for trying harder.
  2. Arrogance: Repeated arrogance in the work environment especially with the wrong person, like a superior, does not result in promotions. This might actually cause a boss to believe that the person needs a dose of humility, delivered by not being promoted. Some believe that once they have achieved a position, they no longer need to prove their worth.
  3. Addiction: Sometimes the addiction is apparent and sometimes it is hidden. But addicts routinely underperform. This provides justification to abuse their drug of choice. An addiction does not have to be obvious such as alcohol or drug abuse, it can also be social media, gaming, shopping, or gambling.
  4. Victimization: “The world is out to get me” is a fruitless mentality. To others listening to this declaration, it sounds like the person wants to play the role of victim or better yet a martyr. This alienates a person from anyone who might be in a position to help, especially a superior.
  5. Fantasy: They see themselves as a hidden hero or a rescuer just waiting for the right opportunity to shine. This manifests in routinely holding themselves back for some hidden mission, just in case they need their superpower strength which means they might not be present for crises that they do not deem worthy of their efforts.
  6. Passive-aggressive: They never really achieved their ideal job and therefore passive-aggressively underperform. It is a type of demonstration to the world that if they had gotten to where they wanted, things would be different. In reality, they are only harming themselves and their performance..
  7. Prideful: People allow pride to get in the way by saying that certain jobs are beneath them and therefore will not do them at all. This is similar to the old saying, “Shooting yourself in the foot.” This could also include not doing certain aspects of a job that a person doesn’t like.
  8. Antagonistic: Sometimes it is as simple as not working nicely with co-workers. Being critical, or nagging of co-workers, does not create a positive work environment. No one likes to work with a sour person.
  9. Belligerence: They are routinely combative or argumentative at work which creates a hostile environment. They may not even be aware they are giving off such negative energy and even when it is addressed, they frequently blame others. This could cause others not to want to work with them on projects or assignments.
  10. Denial: This is a refusal to accept responsibility for the things they have done wrong. They blame others for their poor behavior and overlook ways they may have contributed to a problem. Frequently they deny that anything is the problem, including their underperformance.
  11. Worrier: They obsess over details to the point they drive others crazy about things that are irrelevant. They might nit-pick things, people, and arguments to the point of exhausting everyone. This becomes a sort of distraction from their poor performance.
  12. Myopic: They refuse to see the big picture and instead focus on things solely from their viewpoint. They do not see things from the point of view others, including superiors, co-workers, suppliers, and customers. This tunnel vision limits their ability to multi-task.
  13. Superior: They believe they have more authority, power, or influence then they do. This frequently results in overstepping boundaries and misjudging the social environment in the workplace. This misstep is not likely to be forgotten by co-workers.
  14. Stagnant: They refuse to grow or continue to grow professionally or personally. Instead, they stay still and expect others to change around them. There is no additional advanced degree, continuing education, or job-specific training which could improve their performance.
  15. Negativity: No one likes a constant critic at work or someone who is routinely negative. The problem is that faked positivity is almost as bad as negativity. It takes effort but even in the most difficult of the work environment, there are some things that can be seen as positive. Negative energy drives others away.
  16. Disloyal: They demand loyalty from others but will not reciprocate. This is particularity damaging when the people are subordinates or co-workers. Loyalty should not be reserved just for superiors. When it is, a co-worker will have a hard time trusting.
  17. Ungratefulness: They are not thankful for the things they have, instead, they constantly want or demand more. This can be tiring for superiors who might have their own limitations to manage. As a result of ungratefulness, they do not seek opportunities to shine.
  18. Depression: Long-term undiagnosed or untreated depression can manifest in underperformance. Getting treatment can improve the attitude, boost energy levels, and stabilize the difficult downward cycles. This is an area that superiors should pay attention to as some depression could be suicidal.
  19. Perfectionism: Some professions demand perfectionism (surgeons, pilots, and engineers), others do not (sales, management, and diplomacy). A perfectionist in an environment that does not value it will become frustrated and inefficient.

For Gretchen, several items on this list sounded familiar. She agreed to try to work on one of these items at a time. Doing too many at once may cause even more shut down.

This can be improved, it’s not too late.

Hidden Reasons for Poor Work Performance

 


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APA Reference
Hammond, C. (2018). Hidden Reasons for Poor Work Performance. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 23, 2019, from https://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2018/12/hidden-reasons-for-poor-work-performance/