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The 5 things that your boss hates most

Posted by | January 5, 2015 | Advice, Career

Via LinkedIn : I am sure you have noticed the toxic behaviors which I will show in this article, but the problem is that you noticed them in others, while you should try to recognize their spontaneous emerging also in the things you do at work. What you know about these office behaviors is one-sided. Embrace knowledge about your own indulgence into these behaviors, so that you can reduce them and lower down the stress for both yourself and the other people around you. These advices can effectively help your career, or anyway prevent yourself from harming your career.

1. Interrupting others / Finishing their sentences

Some people like to show off their mind reading abilities by finishing other people’s sentences. Are you like that? Oh, no, seriously. Beware: that’s a behavior that your boss will hate. No one likes to think he’s predictable, and most importantly no one likes you to think that he’s predictable. You should make an effort to find a more productive way of being noticed in the conversation. Like, for example, saying smart things when it is your turn.

2. Being reactive instead than proactive

It’s understandable that, when you are overworked, you may tend to be just reactive instead of proactive. When a new task to fulfil pops out spontaneously from your email every 10 minutes, one temptation that employees have is to just follow the stream and let themselves be guided by all the smaller tasks. But there’s a problem in this: you lose perspective. The big picture will eclipse behind all the little tasks.

You should top-down your bottom-upness, instead. The little tasks spontaneously emerging from your Outlook are juicy treats for your bottom-up mind, which is that part of the mind which collects 24/7 stimuli from the environment and reacts to those. But to accomplish something relevant and complex, you must use your top-down mind, that part of the mind which imposes organization and priorities to your activities. And it allows you to focus on what’s important.

I know, the minor tasks that pop up from your email client may seem really inviting for you to perform, as they promise you that you’ll complete them quickly – but you will end up not doing the things that your managers prefer you to do: those which bring real value to the company. For example: do you take negotiate enough with your business partners? The time you spend in negotiating with external business partners (whether they are clients of your company and you try to get more money for a service that your company provides them, or they are providers of some service and you try to save your company’s cash by negotiating down their demands) is the time that is most rewarding. Maybe you don’t like to negotiate, and just prefer to react. But that’s a bad habit. You should always be aware of the behaviors which add more value to the company, and you should prioritize them, going in proactive mode, if you want to be a company star and not a company burden. And remember: taking the initiative (for example sending to your boss email updates about the status of the projects you’re following) will make your boss love you, as no one likes to micromanage others, and if you are proactive you’ll relieve your boss from the burden of micromanaging you.

3. Not being concise

Time is the scarcest resource ever. It has always been like that. The tricky issue, anyway, is that it’s one of the resources that has a different face depending on who considers it. For some people it’s apparently hard to understand that, in absence of complete information about how much time the other people have, the safest way to go is taking the very minimum time needed to make your point. Your managers will greatly appreciate if you write an “executive summary” at the beginning of your reports, and if you just answer with that “executive summary” to them when they ask you what’s up. If they need to know more, it’s they who will ask you to develop your points further.

4. Having a weird, too personal “zone of acceptance”.

In one of the best books ever written about management, “The administrative behavior”, psychologist and economist Herbert Simon introduces the useful concept of “zone of acceptance”. It’s that collection of things that you expect to be asked to do, and you will perform without the need for your boss to recur to displaying authority. Now, while it’s totally good having some personal standard (after all, those are the things that make you a person and not a robot), some people have zones of acceptance which are way too personal. Some people are quicker than than the eye in saying the magic words “That’s not my job” even when the boss asked a perfectly reasonable thing that could result in the greater good of the company. Having a more standard zone of acceptance, which you can calibrate on a sort of average of the zones of acceptance of your peers, can help your career, as it means that your boss will remember you only for your (hopefully many) achievements, and not for all the little things he should care about to not make you upset. After all, the last time we checked, it was him who was the boss, right?

5. Being always defensive

It’s not all about you. Repeat this mantra: it’s not all about you. If someone – and most importantly if a manager – brings to your attention an issue where you did less than optimal, you should welcome this moment. Because it’s a moment in which you learn, and grow, and improve yourself and help your career. If being defensive is the first thing that comes to your mind as soon as someone tells you something about your work, that most often means two things. The first is that you let emotions interfere too much with the things you should do. The second is that your manager will presume that you are not even listening or learning from what he’s telling you, because you will appear too busy in making up excuses. And you aren’t hired to build excuses, you are hired – in most of the cases – to add value to the company. There’s no company, actually, that thrives economically by selling on the market the justifications and rationalizations of its employees.


Now that you’ve read about these toxic habits which you should avoid, which are the other career – harming behaviors which you think worth discussing? I’ll be delighted to read about your inputs in the comments section.


Giuliano Aluffi is an online marketer and journalist

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