Susan Nicholson, an organizational psychologist and partner at Mentors Psychology in Australia, has researched the 10 things that most irritate bosses about employees. Because youth-serving agencies so often work with adolescents and young adults on getting and keeping jobs, and because we’re all employees ourselves, we thought we’d list Nicholson’s findings. What’s interesting to us is that, ahem, these issues are not necessarily confined to young workers. Just sayin’.
1. You’re unreliable
Missing deadlines, saying one thing but doing another; you have an excuse for everything. Bosses hate that. They just want you to get the job done and on time.
2. You won’t ‘fess up to mistakes
Blaming the other person or trying to cover mistakes up, instead of just owning up to it and working out how to fix it, really bugs bosses. Refusing to take responsibility suggests that you have a weak character, and that’s a number-one career killer.
3. You gossip too much
On Facebook, via text, or at the coffee machine – it doesn’t matter how. Talking about people behind their back, stirring up trouble or undermining what the boss is setting out to achieve is never a good idea.
4. Nothing’s ever good enough for you
I call this type of person ‘the black hat!’ They’re always happy to rain on your parade, just because they can. The employee who constantly gripes, points out that new ideas are destined to fail or sits in meetings scowling and smirking are the worst. Negativity is a contagious disease that can destroy an office.
5. You hate change
How can you grow organically without constantly challenging the status quo and doing things differently? People who love to grumble and criticize new ideas and processes are a big turn-off.
6. You smell
A very sensitive subject. Too much perfume is just as much of a problem as B/O. Both happen in the workplace. Talking about dress and appearance is really really hard for a boss – and quite frankly they should not have to. Remember, dress for your next promotion, not for the job you had when you were in high school.
7. You’re always late
Tardiness, sick days or long lunches add up, and bosses notice – especially if you’re always trying to pretend you’re not doing these things. Don’t think your boss doesn’t notice if you are constantly cutting corners. Bosses don’t like people who appear to be doing the bare minimum. They want people who are not only productive but are coming up with ideas on how to do things better. If people are late to work, late to meetings, late back from lunch – it shows bosses that something else is way more important than their job.
8. You’re over-eager
Don’t copy the boss on every single email, looking for brownie points. This just makes more work for the boss. The job of the employee is to reduce the boss’s workload, not to increase it by constantly demanding recognition and reassurance.
9. You run your personal life from your desk
Stealing time is as bad as stealing from the stationery cupboard. You might think it is only an hour here or there on eBay, Flickr or Youtube – but it really makes your co-workers angry. Realizing that your time is a scarce resource that you apply to the greater cause of your work place will give a whole new meaning to productivity.
10. You’re a bully
It’s astounding to learn that more than a quarter of workers saying they have been bullied at work, and more than half say they have witnessed bullying in the workplace. Bullying includes needless swearing in the office, making threats, throwing temper tantrums. Bosses want happy, peaceful teams, not teams with dominating or passive-aggressive players.