These days, we’ve got heavy competition for our products and services and even stiffer competition for our jobs. The one thing none of us needs is to make matters worse by shooting ourselves in the foot.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a number of behavioral attributes that really annoy the heck out of managers, especially senior executives. We’re not talking light-hearted annoyances, like constant interruptions or incessant whining. We’re talking career-limiting behavior that’s bad for business and bad for the organization and that far outweighs whatever benefits you might bring to the party.
When he was annoyed with someone in a meeting, one CEO of a large technology company would imagine the person’s compensation — dollar sign and all — emblazoned on the person’s forehead and decide right then and there if he or she was worth it. Cold-blooded, I know, but a true story nevertheless.
I’ve seen otherwise bright, capable people dig deep holes for themselves when they thought they were doing the right thing. They weren’t. And while I’ve typically been on the annoyed side of the equation, I have to admit, I’ve been on the annoying side once or twice myself — and really, really wished I hadn’t. So be forewarned. Here are the 10 kinds of employee you don’t want to be.
Note: This article originally appeared as an entry in BNET’s Corner Office blog. It’s also available as a PDF download.
1: “Trust me”
If you’re a star performer who has proved your worth time and again, you’re one of an elite group of trusted individuals. But if you’re not in that category, saying “trust me” or “don’t worry” to a skeptical senior executive sends up a red flag a mile high. Just don’t do it.
2: Fearless risk-taker
People mistakenly think that entrepreneurs, executives, and VCs are huge risk-takers. They’re not. They’re calculated risk-takers. Their job is to minimize risk for their stakeholders in a risky environment. When they see someone dive into the deep end without looking, they don’t just get annoyed, they get rid of him.
Everyone hates a know-it-all, but it’s particularly annoying to senior executives who didn’t get to where they are by not knowing what they don’t know. And they know you don’t have all the answers, either. Know what I mean?
4: Teflon guy (or gal)
Nothing sticks to the Teflon guy. He won’t engage and he won’t be held accountable. You tell him over and over to take the bull by the horns, and he says okay, but it never happens. When you follow up, all you get are excuses. And the worst thing about it? The crap he won’t deal with ends up on your plate, and that just ain’t right.
5: “I can do anything you want”
For some reason, some employees think that no matter what you want or need, all they have to do is smile and say, “Sure, I can do that” — whether they can or can’t. They mistakenly think that’s a “can-do” attitude. It’s not. It’s promising what you can’t deliver. I call that “can-say, can’t-do.”
6: Star-struck “yes” person
Say what you will about bosses wanting employees to kiss their butts and kowtow to them. Sure, they exist, but they’re the weak ones. Successful executives want to know the truth, and they want it straight. To them, sugar-coating “yes” people are worthless, period.
7: Talk, talk, talk, never shut up
Most executives are pressed for time. They want you to tell them what they need to know, listen to what they have to say, and get the hell out. If they want to chitchat, you’ll know it.
8: Drama queen
It’s always something: a personal saga, a coworker’s out to get them, or a litany of excuses. Whatever it is, it’s more important than getting things done. Excuse the gender reference; it’s just an expression.
This type responds to every request with a boatload of inane reasons why he or she can’t do it or arcane things that must happen first. The opposite of a flexible, can-do attitude.
10: “This is how we did it at XYZ company”
It’s one thing to apply your experience to new situations. But you can’t just blindly assume that because it worked there, it’ll work here. Every situation is different; there are lots of ways to do things, and one size rarely fits all. Besides, it’s really annoying.
Those are my top 10. What employee behavior annoys you the most?