7 Ways You’re Annoying Your Manager Without Realizing It

Everyone gets annoyed by coworkers at times, whether it’s rolling your eyes at the guy who chronically monopolizes meetings or being driven to distraction by your cubicle mate’s loud chewing. To some extent, that’s just the reality of working with other people.

But when it’s your boss that you’re annoying, it’s worth paying attention. If you have any of the following seven work habits, you’re almost certainly annoying your manager – and could benefit from a different approach.

1. Presenting guesses as certainties. It’s fine to not always have the answer; a reasonable boss won’t expect you to. But you need to be up-front about it when that’s the case. If you take a guess but frame it as a certainty, there’s a risk that you’re giving your manager wrong information. That means that she’ll be making decisions or taking actions based on bad information – which is a really big deal. So if you’re not sure about something, just say so – and then say you’ll find out.

2. Responding defensively to feedback. If you get upset, hurt, or angry when your manager gives you feedback on your work, you’re making it hard for your boss to do her job. Worse yet, she might start avoiding giving you important feedback that you need to hear. You need to know what you could be doing better, and you’re more likely to hear it if you don’t make it hard for your boss to tell you.

3. Taking forever to get to the point. Your boss is probably busy. When you bring her information, or a problem, or a question, get to the upshot quickly. If you’re giving 10 minutes of background before you ever get to the point, you’re almost certainly frustrating her.

4. Missing deadlines without clearing it in advance. It might be perfectly okay for you to miss a particular deadline – but if you don’t clear that with your manager ahead of time, you’re likely to look really bad: unreliable, disorganized, and flaky. And that’s a recipe for your manager not trusting you in the future, which in turn is a recipe for your manager checking up on you more, which neither of you will like.

5. Neglecting to think about the big picture. Managers have to think about the big picture all the time – how something will affect the team and the organization as a whole. For instance, approving your request for new software might mean that she has to cut her budget somewhere else, plus explain to a different employee why he can’t attend the training course he requested. If you only think about how things will affect you, you’re showing your manager that you don’t have a broad perspective and that you don’t understand the things she cares most about. That will harm you in everything from project assignments to promotion potential to the quality of the relationship overall.

6. Getting stuck in a negativity loop. Everyone has occasional frustrations at work. But if you get caught in them to the point that you’re becoming a toxic presence in the office or the constant naysayer, it’s time to make a fundamental decision: Can you find a way to be reasonably happy at work or is it time to do something else? No good manager will put up with a team member poisoning the atmosphere in the long run (nor will it do your reputation any favors).

7. Hiding behind email. Yes, it can sometimes feel easier to stay behind your computer to hash out difficult subjects. But sometimes you need to pick up the phone or talk to people face-to-face, and your boss will rightly get frustrated if you insist on sticking to email for complicated or sensitive conversations.

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  • Guest19

    Sometimes we are quick to blame others when it is ourselves who need to step up and be better employees. I myself am guilt of a few these (sadly). A good wake up call that will help me be better in the future.

  • momo

    I always use the email option first to bring an important matter to my bosses attention. Be it, complicated, sensitive or serious, from there it is up to the boss to make time to meet with me to discuss the problem. I take the email approach for all matters involving the boss or the company because it’s what I call “my backup plan”. Having emails as proof or evidence has worked well for me in the past, especially when certain people weren’t willing to admit fault. Not everybody hides behind emails when dealing with difficult or controversial subjects, it makes sense to have every base covered. Timid people wouldn’t send an email if it mean’t having to pass the boss in the office. Most bosses would call a meeting with you anyway so there is no hiding from it. To me it means walking in to a meeting with all your cards on the table. Now how can the problem be solved or can it be solved?

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  • Carlo

    Bij punt 1: slecht manager, zeer waarschijnlijk vraagt hij te
    veel van de medewerker om zo’n antwoord te krijgen.
    Punt 2: mee eens, maar ik ben bang dat de meeste managers
    het niet erg vinden.
    Punt 3: hierbij wordt er een hele goede manager verondersteld,
    helaas hebben (te) veel managers het niet in de gaten.
    Punt 4: alweer, hierbij wordt er een hele goede manager verondersteld,
    helaas hebben (te) veel managers het niet in de gaten en de man in kwestie wordt
    er toch beter van.
    Punt 5: alweer, hierbij wordt er een hele goede manager verondersteld,
    helaas hebben (te) veel managers het niet in de gaten en de man in kwestie wordt
    er niet beter of slechter van (by the way: wat een knullige voorbeelden!!).
    Punt 6: mee eens.
    Punt 7: wel/niet mee eens (alweer, hierbij wordt er een hele
    goede manager verondersteld).
    Punt 8: mee eens, maar… wat een slechte manager die niet
    eens een vakantieplanning kan beheren.
    Punt 9: mee eens, maar… wat een slechte manager die daar
    geen eind aan kan maken.
    Punt 10: alweer, hierbij wordt er een hele goede manager verondersteld,
    helaas hebben (te) veel managers het niet in de gaten en de man in kwestie wordt
    er toch beter van, verder vind ik het wel kunnen afhankelijk van wanneer en hoe.

    Conclusie: het artikel had beter “10
    manieren om je baas en COLLEGAS te irriteren” genoemd moeten worden

    Vergeef mij verder eventuele
    schrijfvouten, ik heb geen onderwijs in de Nederlandse taal gehad, daardoor.

    • No problem, Carlo. I’m sure we have more than a few Dutch readers. Thank you for your thoughts. 🙂

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