Can You Not: The 10 Common Things That Seriously Irritate Your Boss

illustrated by Norah Stone.
For most employees, getting along with your boss is ideal, if not necessary, for career growth.
In what can sometimes feel like a tightrope walk, manager-employee relationships are some of the most crucial workplace dynamics, with the potential to make or break an employee's success. And yet, there are many things that employees can do to unknowingly piss their bosses off.
Of course, manager-employee dynamics are certainly a two way street. After all, a good, supportive manager has the potential to bring out the best in an employee, whereas a distant, removed boss could very well bring out the worst.
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Bearing in mind the symbiosis of the employee-boss relationship, there are a number of actions and habits that tend to drive bosses crazy. From being dishonest about mistakes, to lacking an ability to self start, it's important to be mindful of the ways you may be unknowingly — or unintentionally — irritating your manager. For this reason, we chatted with a managers from a spectrum of industries to gain some insight on the things that majorly annoy them.
Ahead, 10 managers share their biggest employee pet peeves — and how you can not do them! — which will hopefully help you to be a better employee (or at least stay on your manager's good side).
1 of 10

Lack of initiative

Pet Peeve:

“The employee who always remarks [something] ‘is an issue’ or ‘needs to be done.’ I wonder where their ownership, engagement, and accountability is in resolving an issue.”

Possible solution:

“Change your language and approach. Identify the issue and what you have done [or] are doing to address it. Seek your manager’s feedback and support on solutions you have developed and to create others.”

Gina L. Calder, Vice President, Ambulatory Services
2 of 10

Being a 'glory hog'

Pet Peeve:

"I have been frustrated by employees that were unhelpful or overly competitive at work – behaviors that place individuals in self-created silos. Reasons include being a glory-hog, blaming others for their own mistakes and being unwilling to do their share of the work. As a manager, I have seen this kind of behavior create serious problems on teams. The less approachable you are, the less likely your team members are to collaborate with you, and it’s much less likely your boss will see you as a team player that deserves a promotion."

Possible solution:

"Give credit to your teammates when things go right; understand that owning up to your mistakes builds your integrity in the workplace; and always make an attempt to participate in any social activities that are organized in the workplace — creating personal connections can help individuals accomplish more work as a team.

"Bonding with fellow employees can make you happier and more engaged at work, which will make you a more supportive team player for your colleagues to lean on, and a star employee in the eyes of your manager. Just a small amount of effort makes a big impact on your manager and colleagues' opinions of you, which will make a big difference in your career.”

Michelle Armer, Chief People Officer at CareerBuilder
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3 of 10

Being late

Pet Peeve:

“Being late (in general) but especially being late and walking in with a freshly brewed local coffee in hand. I get it, I am tired, too! But, I have to get to work an entire hour before my employees so I can actually get my work done and day organized. “

Possible Solution:

“If you have to be at work at 8 a.m., plan to arrive ten minutes early every day. That way if you hit unexpected traffic, or if the Starbucks line is moving slowly, you will still be on time. This is also great when it comes time for asking for a raise, your manager is more likely to look at you as an overachiever if you arrive early every day. Trust me!”

Caroline Kalentzos, CEO Posh PR
4 of 10

Not understanding a manager's job

Pet Peeve:

"My greatest pet peeve as a manager is the all-too-common misunderstanding of what a manager's job really is.

"The best managers are responsible for creating the environment in which a team member can be successful. That means a safe respectful workplace with open dialogue. It means removing roadblocks and providing clear goals and feedback.

"Managers are not responsible for your work ethic, your responsibilities, or your achievements. When team members assume their manager owns their growth, it inevitably creates frustration for both parties. There's only so much each of you can do without the other."

Possible Solution:

"Team members should view their relationship with their manager as a partnership. They should take responsibly for their goals and allow the manager to function as a coach, advisor and resource rather than a parent. If you're not getting feedback, ask for it. If you're blaming them for problems, think of solutions that you can lead."

Amanda Daering, CEO, newance
5 of 10

Not clarifying responsibilities

Pet Peeve:

“A common pet peeve is when an employee does not ask enough questions about how to get a job done properly. An employee who shows initiative and is independent is a valuable employee, but there’s a fine line between being self-sufficient and being reckless by not asking for help.”

Possible Solution:

“As a manager, I usually don't want to be bombarded with questions, but I appreciate it when an employee does their due diligence by inquiring about how to deliver the best possible service to our customers and the team.”

— Nate Masterson, CEO, Maple Holistics
6 of 10

Being dishonest

Pet Peeve:

“As a manager I consider myself quite tolerant until someone triggers the lie detector. It's the one thing that I can't stand when employees lie through their teeth. [But] you can't lie forever to your bosses. Lying compromises your integrity and trust, both are essential in employee-employer relationships.”

Possible Solution:

"I would prefer the team member to come over to me, or request for a conference call if they’re uncomfortable with a public conversation, tell me their 'blunder,' and ask me what they should do. If it’s in their power I’d give them time to rectify the situation. If it’s in my power then I’d gladly cover for them or solve their problem. It's better to tell me the truth and find a solution together than lie to me."

"Having said that, a manager would have to be open enough and let team member know that they can trust the manager. Distance between manager-team member relationships often lead to lying and covering up with more lies."

— Janil Jean, Head of Overseas Operations, Logo Design Guru
7 of 10

Shying away from opportunities

Pet Peeve:

"It's a pet peeve to manage people who are okay with the status quo and are not doing everything they can to grow, as they'll make excuses when career-building opportunities come along."

Solution:

"Indispensable people pursue and take on new opportunities with enthusiasm, rather than shying away from them. Say “yes” when your boss asks if you have bandwidth to take on something new, whether that’s pitching a big idea in a meeting or overseeing a new project you haven't handled before. Also, don't forget to be thankful for the opportunity!"

Jourdann Lubliner, Founder + CEO, Electrify PR
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8 of 10

Lack of communication

Pet Peeve:

“My biggest pet peeve is when a team member is assigned a project but never communicates how the project is progressing. In a startup setting, every person needs to learn to manage-up, and part of that means over-communicating what progress you are making.”

Possible Solution:

“It is the individual's responsibility to flag risks, ask for guidance and tell me when they think a project will hit milestones. If the person is stuck and I keep asking when a milestone will be completed and the date keeps slipping, that person needs to raise the issue.”

Ray Li, CEO, Sene
9 of 10

Being overly-apologetic

Pet Peeve:

“Being too apologetic. Quite often, I get messages that begin with ‘Julia, so sorry to bother you, I know you're busy, but I just wanted to ask.’ These messages are from female employees, and to me, it feels like they've been conditioned to act subordinate in any situation, and it makes me very uncomfortable.”

Possible Solution:

“Don't apologize for having questions. Managers are there to answer any and all questions. If a manager is too busy to answer a question, they should let you know that they'll review and answer it a little later, when they're done with whatever they're doing.”

Julia Kravets, Founder, Little Choc Apothecary
10 of 10

Setting unrealistic goals

Pet Peeve:

"When an employee continues to provide a shifting progress report or a status report. In my line of work, consulting, I have worked with clients across every industry, and employees who are late with a deliverable or work product, will provide an optimistic update with a high percentage complete one week, and then provide a lower percentage complete next week and then it changes again the week after."

Possible Solution:

"Employees should provide the most conservative estimate for progress achieved and should not go to a decreasing amount. The amount of progress should always be on an upward trend."

Nick H. Kamboj, CEO, Aston & James
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