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6 things you do at work that annoy your boss

Erin Snodgrass   

6 things you do at work that annoy your boss
  • You might be making your boss as miserable as they're making you.
  • Complaining at work and gossiping about your coworkers could come back to bite you.

Your bad boss may be the bane of your existence, but you could be guilty of making their professional life as miserable as they make yours.

"In the world of business, annoying your boss is akin to poking a beehive with a stick," Kraig Kleeman, CEO of The New Workforce, said.

Cultivating a quality relationship with the head honcho is key for strivers and slackers alike.

Business Insider spoke to several career coaches, workplace experts, and bosses themselves about the employee behaviors that drive bosses berserk.

1. Complaining

Negativity is a nonstarter for many bosses, Alvina Miller, a careers advisor at Career Success Australia, said.

"Persistent negativity can create a toxic work environment and affect team morale," she told BI. "Bosses appreciate solutions-oriented attitudes rather than ongoing complaints."

Sure, work can often be annoying, but instead of focusing on the frustrating aspects of a project, Miller said employees should calmly acknowledge the challenges and then offer streamlined solutions.

Nguyen Huy, founder of Hawaiin T-shirt company Trendy Aloha, offered similar sentiments, saying endless complaining can dampen a team's spirit.

So, next time you want to rant about work with your coworker, make sure the boss isn't within earshot.

2. Waiting to be told what to do

Bosses value proactive self-starters, career experts said. Conversely, employees who wait to be told what to do may appear to lack initiative.

"Don't wait to be given projects or told what to do — use your brain and figure out what needs to be done," Katherine Kirkinis, a career coach for Wanderlust Careers, said. "Create a plan, get permission to move forward, and do it."

Managers may become easily frustrated by employees who can't figure out how to spend their time, and a repeated lack of initiative could spark some bosses to start micromanaging, Kirkinis added.

Workplace experts said employees need to demonstrate early and often that they can identify problems, suggest fixes, and execute solutions.

"Instead of saying, 'What should I do next?' consider proposing a plan of action with, 'I've noticed we need to address X. Here's how I think we can tackle it'," Miller added.

3. Failing to follow up

Communication is key in the workplace.

"Not following up on tasks or updates can be a major source of frustration. It leaves managers in the dark and can disrupt workflow," Prerika Agarwal, founder and CEO of Inspiration Careers, said.

Kraig Kleeman, CEO of The New Workforce and founder of Z-Branding, said his company almost lost a client once because someone forgot to send a simple follow-up email, adding that follow-ups at his company are not just encouraged but expected.

Employees should provide regular updates, even when there's no significant progress. Keeping all parties informed is crucial to maintaining trust and transparency on a team, Agarwal added.

Finding a sweet spot between communicating too little and too much can be challenging. But Huy said he would almost always rather hear too much than be left in the dark.

4. Asking too many questions

On the flip side, your boss probably doesn't want to hear from you too often. Employees should be mindful of how often they are asking their managers questions, workplace experts said.

While it's normal for new employees to need extra help, bosses appreciate people who can solve their own problems and who keep questions direct.

"No one is going to fire you for asking too many questions, but you may be perceived as anxious, lacking confidence, and unable to figure things out on your own," Kirkinis said.

Good managers understand that questions are a natural part of the learning process, Agarwal added, and the best bosses are patient in answering. However, employees can avoid annoying their managers by bundling questions rather than sending them one by one.

"This not only respects the manager's time but also shows that the employee is organized and considerate," she said.

5. Procrastinating

Time management is among the most valued employee skills, career experts said, and nothing irks a boss more than procrastination.

"Procrastination is like slow poison for productivity," Kleeman said. "When workers put off their tasks, it not only impacts how well they do but also pulls down the whole team."

Managers expect their employees to make effective use of their time, Stephen Greet, CEO and cofounder of BeamJobs, said. Even during downtime, employees can find ways to take on more work, participate in professional development activities, or look for ways to simply procedures and increase productivity, he added.

"Employees who are seen to be passing the time or doing non-work related things during downtime may come across as not being totally committed to their jobs or the success of the company," Greet said.

Ultimately, good employees need to do more than simply meet their deadlines, Kleeman said. They need to show they are dedicated and dependable.

6. Gossiping

No gossip is juicier than workplace gossip. Talking about your coworkers and colleagues scratches a primal itch. But bosses might not appreciate the backhanded chatter, career experts said.

"Some people use gossip as a way to bond, but gossip can be hurtful, especially in the workplace," Kirkinis said.

Melissa Meyers, a leadership and transition coach, said employees should never talk about their peers behind their backs. Embracing diversity of thought and people's disparate opinions is imperative to a well-functioning team, she added.

"If something is bothering you about another person you are working with, take it up with them first rather than involving your boss," Kirkinis said. "Eventually, if your boss needs to be involved, so be it, but try to work it out among yourselves."

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