Five Signs You'd Make a Lousy Employee

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There is so much written about the economy, high unemployment and difficulty finding a job that I haven’t seen much about the opposite issue.   Is everyone cut out to be an employee?  Are there just some people who aren’t programmed to work for someone else? 


You may have one of these people in your family.  I had a brother-in-law who just didn’t seem to be able to keep a job.   He was good at getting hired, but after awhile, he would sabotage the job and be out on the street again.  He was a nice guy and people loved him, but it wouldn’t take long before he started complaining about how things were run and wanted to run things his own way. 


I have to admit that I’m probably one of those people.  I can remember my father telling all of his six children that we were exceptional.  He said of our family that, “We do the hard things right away; the impossible takes a little bit longer.”  We bought it, so we always thought we were smarter and as a result weren’t afraid to make decisions and take action.   We also picked up his entrepreneurial spirit.  After working in human resources for awhile, I started my consulting business, and 20 years later am happily living the freelancer’s life.  While my jobs in HR during those years were rewarding and profitable, there was always a part of me that wanted to make decisions and run the show. As a result, I’ve been able to see the world of work from all sides--as an employee, manager, business owner, consultant, freelancer and one of the many going through the process of finding a job. 


If you’re the kind of person who finds a job but quickly loses interest, or maybe is branded a “rogue” because you like to act first and ask questions later, you may be one of those people better suited to work for yourself.  Here are five signs you’d make a lousy employee:


1.      You get bored with your jobs.  How much education you have or the level of your job doesn't seem to be the issue.  You can be at the bottom, top or middle of the ladder.   After a short time, the job just isn’t exciting anymore.


2.      You spend some time in the HR department.  Some employees who goof off, get behind in their work or get distracted aren’t problem employees; they just don’t connect with the company’s mission or find fulfillment in their role in the company’s success.  I’ve seen great people labeled as disciplinary problems because they didn’t follow the rules or meet expectations, but went on to great success after they were terminated or resigned.


3.      You are always “improving” everything.  These employees are often labeled as “know-it-alls” because they have a better way to do everything.  This irritates the rest of the team, because they come across as critical instead of helpful.  These visionaries, who can see how things can be done faster, better and for less money, can come across as constantly stirring things up. 


4.      You get excited every time you see ads or books titled, “Work From Home,” or “Be Your Own Boss.”  You snatch time at work Googling self-employment articles and franchise opportunities (which lands you in HR again).  Your body may be at the workplace, but your heart belongs to doing your own thing.


5.      You’re happier working alone.    If you spend hours after work exploring a great idea for a business or writing the great American novel, the team-oriented nine-to-five traditional work life may not be for you.  You don’t have to be a hermit to be successful as a sole practitioner.  But if you can’t wait to get off from your “real job” to spend hours alone working on your dreams, the solo life may be for you. 


Are you one of those people who just don’t seem to fit in a tradition job?  Share your experiences in the Comments section below.




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  • David S
    David S
    Wow!!This article describes me to a tee!! I've been getting closer and closer to starting my own business everytime I lose a job. I've been out of work since July of last year and decided I would do it this time. However, it's taking longer than I thought.Great article though!Dave
  • Joseph Z
    Joseph Z
    nothing wrong with perpetual self improvement

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