IT Employment

Three things a manager never wants to hear you say

There are certain phrases that, when uttered by members of the staff, strike fear in the heart of managers. Here are three of them.

Frankly, there are a host of things a manager never wants to hear from a member of his staff. But here are three of them that could strike fear in the heart of your manager simply by their implications:

1. "I'd like to keep this between you and me, but I thought you should know."

This statement is a potential headache for the same reason it would be a headache if exchanged between two friends. Basically, you know you're going to be given information you're not going to like, and that you won't be able to do anything about.

I once had an employee tell me that one of my staffers had been in my office and helped herself to some confidential information from a paper I had on my desk. (I learned from that day on to lock up everything before stepping away from my desk.) The problem was, if I confronted the person who was snooping, then I would have to expose the person who told me because he was the only person she shared the information with. In the end, I decided I had to confront her.

In some companies, if a manager is alerted about a possible sexual harassment situation but says or does nothing at the request of the person who shares the information, he or she could be held accountable legally.

2. "How does the company define pornography?"

You already know that this leading question is fraught with danger. Obviously, it's being asked because this person has A) been caught viewing questionable content, or B) seen said content on someone else's computer.

This is really common in IT, where techs have access to everyone's computers. Whatever the answer is, you know the question is going to open a can of worms in some form or another.

3. "Oh oh."

The other day I had to have a routine test done at the hospital. The nurse was putting in my IV, and I looked away because I'm uncomfortable with needles. I felt a little jab, and then she said, "Oh oh." NOT what you want to hear.

It's also not what you want to hear from a staff person who is, say, working on the CEO's PC, backing up company data, or updating code for an enterprise application.

Like I said, there are many others, but this is a start.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

141 comments
dbecker
dbecker

Followed by: "I can't fix this," with the implication that if the manager had done what they were supposed to do, I could fix it. And frankly... I'm waiting for THE CALL. We just about had one three months ago when the new air conditioner took down 3/4ths of the computer room. THE CALL is that the computer room has been rendered... inert and we have to come to fix it, even though we can't because management didn't see fit to get the tape drives we have told them and they acknowledge that we should have. I have told them that we are right on the edge, and if something "significant" happens, we probably will never be able to recover. It's like flipping a coin ten times in a row and it coming up heads all 10 times: It may not happen. Although we do have five flips to go....

knowshimshit
knowshimshit

I use to scare the hell out of my bosses in our server room by saying "Damn, I never seen that error before". It would have all of them running to look over my shoulder!

dbecker
dbecker

Never a popular question. Or how about, what did you learn from that?

cmejia
cmejia

In my professional and personal life, anytime someone warns me they are about to give me info that I can do nothing with, I stop them dead in their tracks. I always tell them that depending on what it's about I may indeed need to "do something" with the information. Now the gossiper at that point can decide to continue or not. Problem solved!

finn
finn

You are one month into a project and one of the project members ask: When are we starting?

dpanzer
dpanzer

This sexual harassment training you're making us go to...is it a "how to"?

estebs1978
estebs1978

At my company, we are required to speak up if we see a security violation. We are a highly secure business (we even have to badge out of the bathroom!!!). If you don't speak up, then they consider you as guilty as the person that did the violation. If I tell my manager and he/she can keep me out of it, then that would be ideal but managers have to learn about things that happen that can or will affect the company and the department. You have to watch for the best interest of the company and watch your manager's back. In my case my manager would go put his hands in the fire for me...I tend to return the favor.

dbecker
dbecker

to IBM to save you $150,000 because you didn't do what you were supposed to do and left it to me to clean it up. (True story)

techrepublic
techrepublic

My God, you call this an article? How much does writing for this online rag pay? I could bang out this useless crap in about 10 minutes. Can I get a check for it?

ibon11
ibon11

Scenes of war and violence make me avert my eyes and make me sick however pornography does not. Why is it no problem to have a violent scene on the computer screen and such a mortal sin to have a sexual one?

AlbertZr
AlbertZr

Happened in a company that was proud for hardly firing anybody, always trying to help employees out of their problems. A COTS product, half a year late due to architectural overhaul. During the anouncement that the product finally shipped, the architect responded with: "And it fully integrates with the software I sell privately!"

chaz15
chaz15

1. I disagree .... 2. I think I'll consult my lawyer... 3. This is how you SHOULD have helped....

swdswan
swdswan

I figured out how to bypass this annoying security stuff ....

Radar1751
Radar1751

How about the prospective employee asking at the interview if the company ever presses charges?

scotth
scotth

Regarding No. 2 - that is not your job! That type of situation is the responsibility of HR. You gather the information, which is your job, and hand it off to HR for them deal with.

Sharronm
Sharronm

There are plenty of other choices to keep my attention, you fell down on this article! Boring!

PoconoChuck
PoconoChuck

The other day I told my doctor I wanted a vasectomy. He said 'with a face like yours, you don't need one!' I get no peace at home, either. I told my son 'some day, you might have kids of your own.' He said 'some day, you might, too!' -- Rodney Dangerfield

mfeldhandler
mfeldhandler

You got that backwards. First you hear OOPS! The question is, what is worse than OOPS? A: Uh Oh.

bus66vw
bus66vw

How did you ever get to be my boss? No it can't be done that way? No!!! That is against the law. That is against company policy. Hear, read this, it's the S.O.P. See this piece of paper you signed. It says you have read and understood all company policies and S.O.P.s. I just talked to the department heads about the manner and you seem to be out of the loop.

Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

There's someone from 60-minutes waiting to see you. ;)

spacewarp
spacewarp

Help desk got a call and the help desk person answered it. "Help..... There's smoke coming out from under my desk." Help desk person ran upstairs as quick as possible, ran to the desk, reached under, yanked the power strip with the 4" flame shooting out of the middle of it due to a short, out of the wall, raced to the window, chucked the offending power supply and walked away knowing he had saved the day. Then he looked down. To the VP's Jaguar with a power-supply shaped hole in the front window and smoke coming from the leather seat. The VP called the company who the power strips were bought from and claimed the total cost of repairs (about $11,000) on the warranty as the failure certainly would have cost the company millions if the sprinklers had come on and the contracts in that area had to be re-signed because the originals got wet and destroyed. Lesson: Always be nice to VP's when they call and say "It says enter your password. Is that my e-mail password or network password?"

reisen55
reisen55

I almost sent that once by pager and oddly enough I was almost entirely justified. My manager was in South Carolina at the time and sent me a page as I was walking up the street " Did the backup tapes go out on Monday?" Well, I didn't give a damn having just walked down 101 flights of stairs from the South Tower of the World Trade Center which was burning behind me .... and I was not in a good mood to say the least. I ALMOST sent that phrase ... thought better about it and quickly replied YESTHEBACKUPTAPESWENTOUTONMONDAY and turned the pager off. Actually they did and the division of Aon Consulting had it's data ready for restoration within 4 days after September 11, 2001.

batya
batya

"I have a low level of tolerance for your level of competence." (I got away with it! - and it took 2 minutes for him to understand what I said)

jk2001
jk2001

"I told you about that last month." "Well, I did it the way you told me to." "I really can't work late. I've been spending time learning ____ on my own time."

jck
jck

Here's a quarter. Go call someone who cares what you think. :^0

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

how many x-employees became rich from the lawsuits after leaving

mike.codding
mike.codding

the discussion worth reading. Nice way to do research for a real article.

tcwhq
tcwhq

I'm not sure it is wise to encourage people not to express a problem. I'd rather know that there is a problem, than to be blissfully ignorant of it just to have my backside bitten when all is revealed!

ijusth
ijusth

that was actually a line from one of his monologues. Things you never want to hear your doctor say ... "whoops".

jon_public
jon_public

№ 11?, "Chris Hansen is here to see you" - LMAOAROF

arizonad
arizonad

LOL - That is the best one yet!!!

Jellimonsta
Jellimonsta

Wow... your wife is into some kinky stuff!! :p

JCitizen
JCitizen

The top thing the manager doesn't want to hear, the office is gone! Sorry about your experience, I pray for the families of the lost.

nberigan
nberigan

like so much in the media today. column "inches" (or whatever the e-equivalent is)that justify existence and allow for the (probably not very well paid) ad placement.

ruby.otero
ruby.otero

id rather know whats boiling before it explode to my face, at least you know how to make it right or at least make it easy to resolve.

JCitizen
JCitizen

you've gotta million of 'em! :^0

jck
jck

I enjoyed bei...I mean, meeting your wife last night. ]:)

SmootCIS
SmootCIS

I am going to need the first Monday off each month to go to my probation officer. or Would you be a character witness for me or No I was not aware of our drug free policy or Ummmmm I am going to need to talk to you about my non disclosure agreement or Technically is it sexual harassment if I think she likes it or You were serious about that. or I don't know what I did, but for some reason only clients with even numbered IP address are working or Just trust me, you might want to get a new coffee mug

SmootCIS
SmootCIS

Is she legal? then Is she into older men?

bkrateku
bkrateku

Did you know your daughter has a heart-shaped birthmark down there? :P

jck
jck

Wow is your daughter HOT! ]:) :^0

Editor's Picks