These Are the Signs You’re Overstepping at Work

These Are the Signs You’re Overstepping at Work

Taking your job seriously is one thing, but some people don’t stop there. Instead, they take it upon themselves to intervene in situations that don’t concern them, going above and beyond their job description, and not in a good way.

Because this is often done with good intentions, it can be hard for someone to recognise when they’re doing it themselves. Here are a few signs to help you determine whether you’re overstepping at work.

Signs you’re overstepping at work

Sometimes, workplace behaviours that we think are helpful and responsible are actually really irritating to our coworkers, or may even create problems for them.

Katy DeCelles, PhD, an organizational behaviour professor at the University of Toronto, and co-author of a paper entitled “Vigilantes at Work: Examining the Frequency of Dark Knight Employees,” recently spoke with CNBC Make It, and shared these three signs to help you figure out if you’re overstepping at work:

1. You reprimand your coworkers

Let’s say you’ve noticed that one of your colleagues has been 15 minutes late for work every morning this week, so you decide to call them out and tell them that they should work on being more punctual. In this case, you don’t think your supervisor has adequately disciplined their behaviour, so you take it upon yourself to do it for them or report it to HR.

“Typically a vigilante is defined by their punishment behaviour,” DeCelles notes. “It starts out very psychological. You’re noticing, again and again, there are failures to enact justice at work. People are getting away with things that annoy you.”

2. You are very concerned about your coworkers’ actions, behaviours, and job performance

Even if you don’t keep a written record of your observations, you at least make mental notes of any infractions of workplace rules and/or subpar job performance. This includes “hypervigilance, monitoring other people and expecting people to do things wrong or in a way you perceive to be unethical,” DeCelles says.

3. You get mad when a coworker breaks a ‘rule’

When you notice that someone has broken what you see as a clear-cut “rule,” but no one else sees it — or at least isn’t doing anything about it — you get upset. “A vigilante might see that as something that is more and more frustrating and angering to them,” according to DeCelles.

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