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How Taking Sickies Impacts Your Career

27/10/2015 2:03 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:50 PM AEST
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We ALL have them -- days when we really can't be bothered getting out of bed and heading to work. Those moments lying under the covers, stealing every last minute before dragging yourself up and into your day can be agonising.

There's no doubt even ethical and hardworking people succumb to the temptation to 'chuck a sickie' occasionally. And while this doesn't necessarily make them bad people it is undeniably dishonest behaviour.

Those serial offenders among us who regularly take sickies are not only taking from their employer, the impact they have on the rest of the team can be massive.

Living with integrity demands that we behave in ways we know are right, irrespective of the struggles we feel.

As C.S. Lewis famously said: 'Integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching'. If you find yourself tempted to take a sickie, stop and reflect for a moment on the impacts that decision could have on your career.

Trust and respect

The strength of any relationship is reflected in the depth of trust and respect both parties feel. Taking sickies is one sure way to undermine what people believe about your character and commitment. Most people find it difficult to respect and place trust in someone they perceive to be taking unfair advantage or behaving deceitfully.

Once or twice and you may go undetected, but chances are if you are regularly taking sickies people around you will notice. The biggest give away is likely to be a lack of engagement with your work or the company you work for. Lets face it, when we do what we love with people we enjoy, most of us don't choose to rip off our boss and overload our colleagues with the work we should be doing.

Just as transparent are unlikely excuses or patterns that most people can't help but feel suspicious of -- such as Monday being the most common day you are away. Of course, if you fall ill on a Monday it's in everyone's best interest that you stay home, but if you're feeling just a little lethargic and disconnected, shake it off and get to work.

Getting ahead

While it always matters that the people you work with trust and respect you, its especially important if you have aspirations to advance your career. Among the questions that are likely to be raised if you constantly take sickies are 'can you be relied upon to assume greater responsibility?'

If you aspire to be in a leadership role consider what taking sickies says about your ability to lead by example or earn the confidence of a team. What might people in a position to influence your carer assume about your willingness to do the work needed to succeed in a more challenging job?

Without the trust and respect of your manager the organisation is unlikely to invest in your development. Most leaders spend time, energy and resources developing those members of their team they believe have potential and trust to apply it.

Irrespective of how hard you are able to work at times, if you are inconsistent, if your boss has doubts they can rely on your attendance let alone performance, they are unlikely to support you to grow and advance.

Shaking a reputation

The world, as they say, is small. With people constantly moving around industries, organisations and even the globe, our reputation can spread far and wide.

When what people hear about you is that you slack off and let the team down, they're unlikely to be interested in working with you. Far better to have a reputation for being the person who will get the job done; the member of the team who can be relied upon to serve the organisation faithfully.

Keep in mind that people can have very long memories. If you plan to work with your business and in your industry for any length of time, make sure you behave in ways you can be proud of for many years to come. Think carefully about the impact your behaviour has on your relationships and ability to thrive at work now and into your future.

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Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. She is the author of 'The People Manager's Toolkit' and 'The Corporate Dojo'. For more information visit www.karengately.com.au.

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