(Editor’s note: This was one of the top viewed stories of 2014. We’re rerunning it as part of a look back at the articles that captivated our readers the most.)
A few years ago, I wrote an article called “7 reasons your employees hate you.” It was a missive to managers struggling as their career paths thrust them into roles where driving behavior from others was the focus of their job.
Of course, we’re all interested in our career paths. And unless you’ve started your own company, you’ve got a boss. For many of us, that boss holds the power to help you on your way down that path—as long as you don’t piss them off.
The truth is, I don’t hate any of my employees. I only hire people I really like. Yet, over the years, I’ve certainly seen a few behaviors that have ticked me off. Here are seven of them.
You throw coworkers under the bus
Some people will tell you that politics are inevitable in business. They take this as permission to throw colleagues under the bus in an effort to make themselves look good at their “competitors” expense.
If you’re one of those people, let me tell you something: It’s transparent when you do it, and it’s a very unattractive look. If your boss is any good, the one thing they are trying to do is build a great team. When you strategically undermine your coworker, you undermine that team-building effort. You undermine your boss.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t communicate to your boss if someone else’s performance is an obstacle to your own. There’s a fine line between sacrificing someone who doesn’t deserve it for your own personal gain and being candid about the behavior of someone who does. But reality is high-def: The line is fine, but it’s crystal clear.
You don’t accept responsibility
I value candor and taking responsibility. If someone comes to me and says they screwed up, the first words that come out of my mouth are likely to be, “What did we do to fix it?” followed quickly by, “What did we learn so we don’t make the same mistake next time?”
The first thought that comes into my mind, however, is that this person in front of me has character. It’s the exact opposite when someone isn’t willing to stand up and admit to a mistake that they’ve made. It’s a signal that I can’t trust that person. If your boss can’t trust you, he or she will likely be skeptical of your accomplishments and more critical of your mistakes in the future.
You avoid accountability
Every job has some level of ownership. There are decisions you’re empowered and expected to make and ones that you need to run up the food chain.
You get paid to do a job. Your salary compensates you for value you provide to a company by performing at that job. Part of that value comes from making decisions that impact that performance. If you ask your boss to make decisions that you should be making, you are shirking accountability. In doing that, you are diminishing your value in the eyes of your boss.
You don’t share credit
This year, Kevin Durant won the NBA’s most valuable player award. He gave credit to everyone under the sun: his teammates, his coach, his mom. Did that generosity in any way diminish his accomplishment? Of course not.
There are many degrees of not sharing credit that happen in business. They range from the thoughtless to the outright sleazy. Let’s face it: More than one jerk has climbed the corporate ladder by stealing ideas and stepping on the necks of coworkers. But do you want to go through life being a jerk?
When I see someone on my team go out of their way to recognize others for their efforts, I see them as a leader, a team player, the kind of person that I might want to promote.
You abuse trust
Simply put, when your boss puts their trust in you and you abuse that trust, they aren’t going to like you for it. Sure, we all play hooky sometimes—maybe say we have a doctor’s appointment and go to a Giant’s game instead. People who work for me don’t have to lie to me if they have Giant’s tickets because I trust them. I give them freedom because I value having people I know I can trust working for me. As long as they get the job done right, I trust them to make smart decisions. We’re all adults.
Abusing trust when it’s given to you is not an adult thing to do. It’s immature and it’s dishonest. And nobody likes to feel lied to.
Rules are made to be bent. Process is the front in the battle between bureaucracy and chaos. Making a thoughtful decision to cut a corner is often the smart thing to do. However, it’s a slippery slope from making an intelligent decision based on a particular circumstance and throwing out the rulebook and playing cowboy. The reason we have process and a way of doing things is because business is high stakes. Companies deliver high quality work or they lose their customers. And when companies lose customers, people lose jobs.
To be honest, I’m not much for rules at all. But this isn’t about rules. We have them in place so we make sure we deliver quality work. When you are reckless about making sure we deliver quality work, that puts your boss and everyone else around you at risk. They are not likely to be happy with you about it.
You leave dirty dishes in the sink
I really don’t know how your boss feels about you leaving dirty dishes in the sink, but I have a virulent disdain for people who dump their sloppy oatmeal-crusted bowls in the sink and walk off. It shows an arrogant disrespect for your co-workers.
Sure, sometimes the dishwasher is running and you leave a coffee mug on the counter. We’ve all done that. People in business spend a great deal of our waking lives in offices. We share those spaces. If you disrespect that space, you disrespect your co-workers. Your boss—and everyone else you work with—will probably hate you for it.
Does it matter?
Of course, none of this is to say that making your boss love you is always the right thing to do. Your boss may suck. Only you can decide if you want to work for this person.
But all of the reasons that I’ve mentioned in this article have to do with integrity. Maintain yours and you’ll be the kind of employee any good boss would want on their team.