There are many factors that can impact both your present-day job satisfaction and your long-term career prospects, but one of the most influential is your relationship with your manager. When you and your boss get along well, you’re more likely to enjoy your work day-to-day. You’ll be top-of-mind when it’s time for promotions, too. In addition, when your boss is in your corner, you’ll experience a greater sense of job security.
While your manager’s personality can determine how smooth and functional the relationship is, there are, of course, two sides the equation: Your behavior has a decisive influence as well. Ironically, some professionals act in ways that undermine positive relationships with the boss or make difficult interactions even worse. Here are six negative behaviors that bother bosses the most, along with ways to correct them:
- Communicating poorly (or not at all). This can range from minor (e.g., sending meandering e-mails) to major, such as failing to notify the boss when you’re going to miss a key deadline. Communication problems can also spring from differences in style — perhaps you like spontaneous, face-to-face chats and your manager prefers formal meetings scheduled in advance. In any case, poor communication can erode an otherwise good relationship. To prevent this from happening, try to be more attuned to the demands and pressures your manager faces so you can respond in the most timely and appropriate manner.
- Taking up too much of their time. Some employees seek constant feedback or positive reinforcement from their supervisors. They feel the urge to check in at frequent intervals to make sure they’re on the right track or to allay anxieties they have about their work. Such high-maintenance behavior prevents managers from doing their jobs, which can make even the most patient boss crazy. To avoid being a pest, get as much information as possible before you tackle an assignment. If you do need interim guidance or input, schedule a meeting at a mutually convenient time rather than dropping in on the boss or e-mailing every time you have a question.
- Failing to follow through. Another behavior that bedevils bosses is the black hole syndrome. Here’s an example: Your manager has been waiting for a week for an audit report you’re preparing, but you’ve been so busy you haven’t taken the time to update him/her about your progress. While you may expect the boss to check in with you, in fact it’s your responsibility to keep him/her apprised of the status of the projects you’re handling. Even if it’s a one-line e-mail, the boss will appreciate being in the loop.
- Acting like a stick in the mud. Your supervisor asks if you have the time to go over new tax codes with a more junior employee. You do, but you’d rather finish up other projects, so you decline. If this happens once, it’s acceptable. But no manager wants to hear “no” over and over again. If you can accommodate your boss’s request without it negatively affecting your other duties, say yes even if the assignment doesn’t appeal to you. You’ll be perceived as helpful rather than a hindrance.
- Pretending you’re perfect. No boss enjoys being told that an employee has made a mistake, but they’d rather hear the news right away than have a small problem snowball into a full-blown crisis. Hiding your errors or making excuses to justify poor performance is a behavior that makes bosses see red. When you make a mistake or fail to meet a goal, admit it. Then show your professionalism by proposing a plan to correct the problem and avoid similar incidents in the future.
- Being a squeaky wheel. Believing that it will somehow strengthen the team, some professionals run to the boss with every complaint or concern about their coworkers’ performance or work habits. The behavior can quickly end up as a strike against you, however. Managers prefer employees who are able to cooperate and collaborate with others, despite interpersonal differences. Demonstrate a positive attitude and show your boss he or she can trust you to resolve conflicts on your own. If you must seek your manager’s intervention, make sure it’s only after you’ve tried every other remedy.
You’ll have greater success in the workplace when you behave in ways that make your manager an ally rather than an enemy. By avoiding behaviors that alienate or annoy and conducting yourself with the highest level of professionalism, you’ll bolster a shaky relationship and make a good one even stronger. Then you’ll discover that in addition to being your supervisor, your boss will become a mentor and friend who can offer valuable career advice and share professional connections that help you advance.
Accountemps is one of the world’s first and largest temporary staffing service specializing in the placement of accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The company has more than 360 offices throughout North America, South America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region and offers online job search services at www.accountemps.com.