5 Ways To Burn Bridges, Get Blacklisted And Stunt Career Growth

This post has been updated to remove an inaccurate quote, and the headline has been altered to reflect the change.

Sure, there’s a long-term payoff for practicing diplomacy in the workplace. Good career karma can come in the form of employee referrals, glowing LinkedIn recommendations, networking opportunities, leads on new jobs and more.

But who needs any of those things?

If you’re looking for some surefire ways to burn professional bridges and leave a bad taste in the mouths of colleagues, consider the following tips.

1. The ‘OMG I hate my job!’ Update

Not classy. If you’ve been keeping up with our posts, you should know by now that social media is no longer a dumping ground for banal inanities. It’s just too easy for any one of your 300+ closest “friends” to take a quick snapshot and circulate your incriminating words.

Susan Fignar, executive coach and founder of relationship management firm Pur*sue, makes the excellent point that there’s a time and place to share our feelings and frustrations and offers an alternative method of releasing woes:

“Vent with a close friend, get it out of your system and show up with a fresh attitude,” she said. “I always tell people to channel their inner Jackie-O or President Barack Obama — both the epitome of poise and polish.”

2. Quit out of the Blue

Plan on going MIA at your job? If you do, consider those professional connections gone. The purpose of giving the traditional two weeks’ notice is so you can offer the company ample time to start looking for a replacement while you help make the transition easier.

Failure to give proper notice a shows lack of consideration and respect for your former company. And it’s not just management who will hold it against you. Coworkers might be irked by the extra work your sudden departure causes them.

3. Steal Clients (or Tweeps)

Stealing clients not only exemplifies poor character — but could also infringe on your company’s legal rights. We spoke with Angela Reddock, national workplace expert and Los Angeles employment lawyer, who said employees can be subject to a civil lawsuit and liable for economic damages to the former employer.

“The real problem here,” she said, “is when a former employee takes steps to directly take or lure clients away from a former employer, such as calling, emailing or meeting with a former employer’s client.”

And here’s a new one:  Social media efforts could soon be “owned” by companies as well. An emerging precedence will result from Phonedog’s ex-blogger Noah Kravitz who is being sued by his former employer for taking 17,000 Twitter followers with him. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, there’s some highly publicized bad blood brewing between Kravitz and his ex-boss.

4. Refuse to Pay it Forward

If you become notorious for having an “it’s not my job” attitude when others ask you to help out, you might burn a bridge or two without realising it. “Inquire about new projects, come up with new ideas, ask to work on a project,” Fignar said.

For the unemployed job seeker, Fignar still emphasises the importance of going beyond the unexpected: “Do you offer to help others out? Offer to make an introduction or an e-introduction?” It’s equally important to volunteer to work on projects, she said, in order to position yourself for more opportunities.

5. Get Drunk and Badmouth Your Boss

Georgette Pascale, president & CEO of Pascale Communications, has seen a lot of self-destructive career sins committed by professionals. One major sin, she said, is to gain a little too much liquid courage, and dis your company to others.

“This always gets back to the boss or leader,” she said.