Avoid These 10 Surefire Ways to Annoy Your Manager

Anxious mixed race businesswoman rubbing temples in office
••• Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images

It’s an uphill battle to be successful if you don’t have a good working relationship with your manager. While results are the most important measure of success, great results can often be overshadowed if you’re always doing little things that annoy your manager.

I’ve been fortunate to have talented, hardworking, likable employees throughout my career as a manager. But I have heard stories from other managers… Here are 10 things to avoid doing in order to stay in good standing with your manager:

Having to Be Reminded

Yes, we all let things slip through the cracks now and then. It’s been my experience that some employees are the same ones who need to be consistently followed up with when others seem to be able to respond the first time they are asked.

As a manager, I expect that when I ask a question, ask for a piece of information, or ask for something to be done, I assume it will happen. If you can’t, or if you need more time, then let me know, don’t just ignore the request. Keeping commitments is part of being a professional.

Not Being Able to Prioritize

With the exception of brand-new employees, experienced professionals should know how to juggle a lot of balls at once, and which ones deserve more or less attention. When an employee goes to a manager and asks for help in prioritizing his own work, the employee comes across as clueless and helpless.

Making Excuses

When a mistake is made, just own up to it and fix it. No lame excuses, finger pointing, blaming, drama, etc. Be accountable!

Not Being a Team Player

When a coworker is buried, offer to help. Don’t wait for your manager to ask. If you are annoying your co-workers, your manager will eventually hear about it. Don’t be the employee whom your co-workers have to speak to their manager about. If you have a problem with a co-worker, try to resolve it with her first before you take it to your boss.

Bad-Mouthing Your Manager

Yes, we all need to complain about our managers now and then. Just don’t overdo it, and assume that anything you say could get back to your manager. Besides, when you constantly bash your boss, what does it say about you? That you’re stupid enough to put up with working for a jerk?

Challenging Your Manager in Front of Your Manager’s Boss

If you disagree with your manager or have a concern, bring it up privately with your manager. Don’t embarrass or undermine your manager.

Blatantly Sucking Up

It’s a good idea to treat everyone with the same high degree of respect. If you follow that rule, your boss doesn’t need any more respect than anyone else, or it comes across as sucking up. The same goes for gift giving. Please, no extravagant holiday or birthday gifts for the boss. 

Not Keeping Your Boss Informed

Sure, no one likes to be micromanaged and everyone hates status reports, but managers need to have some idea of what you’re working on. They also hate to be surprised, so going back to No. 3: if there is bad news, make sure your manager hears it from you first.

A Lack of Common Sense

Here’s a phrase you don’t want to hear from your manager: “You did what?! Seriously?! I mean, what you were thinking?!” 

Passing the Monkey

A saying from the classic Harvard Business Review article “Management Time: Who’s Got the Monkey?” in which a manager’s employees keep passing their problems (monkeys) to the manager to solve. In other words, upwards delegation.

Avoiding these 10 annoying behaviors will give you a better chance of having a positive relationship with your manager and allow your great work to shine on its own.