Does your boss think you're an a**hole?
Mad TV: Angry Boss
Admitting that your boss may think you're a less than stellar employee is the first step toward change. Let me preface this article with a word of advice: Don't get defensive. Being an a**hole isn't technically hereditary, which means something can be done about it. Help me help you. The following hints are to help employees nail down possible causes for a poor relationship with their boss.
Now, don't be fooled; bosses can definitely be a**holes as well. Believe it or not, the root cause of a lot of a**hole-ism is a lack of communication and understanding. The following observations are simply an attempt to bridge the gap between boss and employee, and encourage strong work ethic in a supportive environment.
#1. You get "sick" a lot.
If the first thought that pops into your head is, "what's considered 'a lot'?", it is probably safe to say you're an offender. Many bosses don't feel like they can take any time off for an illness, especially if they have an even more demanding boss above them. So, when an employee calls in sick, they immediately think, "Are they sick, or are they 'sick'?" This reactionary skepticism is due to the large amount of sick-day abusers that have worked beneath them in previous years.
Unfortunately, once an employee calls out due to feeling under the weather, the boss starts a mental tally of their sick days. Three sick days in under 6 months, and bosses will begin relying on the employee less, and the scheduled hours will reflect their concern. More than 3 sick days in 6 months, plan on making some lifestyle changes... and one of them may be a new job. The average person is sick about 2-3 times per year. After too many sick-scapades, a boss will view an employee as an overly sensitive hypochondriac, or a liar (see #2).
#2. You lie.
I can assure you that every boss thinks that an employee who lies is an a**hole. Chances are, if an employee lies to their boss about something, the boss will find out. It is kind of like when a kid would take every precaution to weave an intricate beautiful lie for their parents, and the parents would find out everything anyway. Mom or dad would be tipped off by Betty the neighbor, or Stevie's dad. Well guess what, employees are even more screwed now. Social media has everyone's number. Whether people like it or not, they're getting checked in here, or getting tagged there, or God forbid their best friend posts that keg stand photo at a party the rest of the employees knew about.
After so many crappy employees, a boss becomes a detective, and often enlists the help of a secret agent. Someone will always tattle, and the lying employee will become the problem child. Also, once they get caught lying, every word that comes out of their mouth is now in question. Hopefully, the boss is nice enough to call people on their BS, and give them a chance to redeem or explain themselves, but as bosses get older, their patience wears thin. Most employers will just write an employee off after a lie. Usually, they will keep letting them dig themselves a little lie hole, then push them into it with a pink slip.
#3. You can never find anything.
Delegating is painful enough for some bosses, especially those who don't exactly trust their employees to accomplish any tasks. If a boss asks an employee to get something for them, and the response is, "I can't find it," they probably rolled their eyes as they were silently cursing them out.
It shouldn't be a surprise that if a boss asks an employee to get something, chances are they already know where it is, and whether or not it is there. In addition, it is even more damning when they communicate exactly where to find it, and someone comes back empty handed. Bosses are pretty easy to read. If they won't make eye contact, or the employee's foolish response is followed an awkward and LONG, silent burning stare, they're pissed. FYI, during this reaction, they are weighing the HR consequences for smacking an employee across the face.
#4. You're always late.
Stuff happens. Most bosses understand that, so being late is not necessarily a seat on the a**hole choir. It all depends on how often someone is late, by how much, and whether or not they bothered to call. Any sort of "pattern" of lateness makes employers nervous, but most companies will give a 3 minute "oops" window. If not, people would probably be getting fired all over the place. For some reason, punctuality is like a lost art.
Once an employee is already late, the reason can send up a lot of red flags as well. Was it because of, let me guess, car trouble? Or perhaps, I don't know, got stuck in traffic? These are pretty common excuses, and they can be fairly valid, but if this is the excuse every time, that story will begin to fall apart. Don't forget, the boss was once a young employee, and probably played the late excuse game as well.
#5. You lean.
Nothing makes a boss grit their teeth more than an employee who leans. Not every company is a fast paced environment, but the phrase, "there's always something to do" is universal. Leaning in the work place often communicates boredom. A bored employee isn't being proactive, and if they're not being proactive, they're not working...they're actually barely standing.
Posture is also very important, especially to those who DON'T work there. The message leaning sends to a customer or client is, "I'm lazy and disinterested," and is immediately off-putting for those attempting to interact with someone in a place of business.
#6. Your break requests are getting a little out of hand.
Let's be honest, every boss knows that a 10 minute break in the middle of a 4 hour shift isn't always necessary. Since they know they can't count that 7-10 minute bathroom break their employee just took as part of that 10, it is even more unnecessary. However, it is typically required by most state laws. Employers are reluctantly aware of this, so they don't often argue when an employee asks to take their 10. However, they are probably picturing that needy employee holding a bottle and suckling like an infant.
A great boss will know when to give a 10 minute break. They look for it in an employee's effort, job performance, as well as the intensity of the environment and situation. If that employee has done nothing but lean against the counter, picking their split ends, or resting their eyes, the boss doesn't understand the incredulous request for a break.
Labor laws are different from state to state. To find out your own state's labor laws, click here.
#7. You have an over indulgent social life.
YOLO, we get it, but come on... Requested time off is often the biggest obstacle for a boss to run a smooth operation. When the calendar is riddled with multiple weekend functions and concerts, the boss will definitely lose a little hair. An employer doesn't care about that rave in Vegas, or the carload of drugged out friends that are counting on a ride. As far as a boss is concerned, there are more meaningful and valid responsibilities than partying every weekend. Pick your battles. Decide right now the 4 most important events of the year, and communicate those dates to your employer. Any other requests leave a person's boss feeling like this job isn't much of a priority.
If that last comment triggers an under-the-breath cursing about how this job isn't a top priority, and something about not having to take "sh*t" from anyone, perhaps it is time to find another job. Good luck paying for that EDC ticket. "YOLO" can be a great motivator to take chances, and be spontaneous, but to do a lot of those things, you probably need money.
#8. You think you're too good for everything.
Most bosses have had to complete some grunt work to get to the top. They've most likely cleaned toilets, delivered coffee, scrubbed floors, and other less appealing tasks that they often relive as the "mom/dad" of the staff now. A boss was certainly once at the same level as their employees, so when an employee's attitude borders on that of a 'Kim Kardashian' style entitlement, they can understandably get a bit pissed.
Being humble is a key personality trait specifically sought out by employers. It is easier to teach someone willing to learn, than someone who thinks they know it all. Eventually, an employee's insolence will leave a bad taste in the boss's mouth, and they will write them off as an employee who involves too much effort to train for a higher position.
#9. Your mantra is: What's in it for me?
Unfortunately, this behavioral trait is common in even the best employees. Many bosses are guilty of allowing those who work for them to put in the effort without any sort of positive recognition. It is easy to get a bit defensive when there is no reward for fulfilling and surpassing work related obligations.
However, if an employee expects a parade every time they complete a task, or help out a peer in need, they can count on an extreme amount of disappointment in their future. Furthermore, unrewarded kindness and high work ethic are already becoming a thing of the past. If a pellet must fall every time the mouse tackles the maze, chances are the mouse will become assumptive and greedy.
#10. You're the real slim shady...
Everyone has weak moments when they complain about their employer to co-workers. Depending on to who, and how often, it is just bad news. You will be sold out. This is just a bleak fact of life. Human beings are all about survival, and when an opportunity arises for a fellow employee to get on the boss's good side, don't count on discretion from the competition. Since most bosses don't care enough about gossip to track down the truth (unless of course it is an HR concern), there will usually be no repercussions for their intel.
Loyalty and integrity are highly sought after characteristics in an employee. If a team member can gain the trust and respect of their boss, life at work becomes much easier. It is always tempting to gossip or complain about management, but remember that it could result in a tarnished reputation for everyone involved.
The more you know!
Regardless of what category you fall in to, there is no need to stop moving forward. Every morning begins a new day of opportunities to be better. Without the knowledge of our weaknesses, we will never grow. Just being aware of what NOT to do, makes the pathway to a more positive work life more clear.
There must always be a turning point in a person's life where they have the choice to live up to the negative expectations that an employer may have for them. Depending on the reason for the poor work performance, it is certain that a change needs to be made. If the problem is with the boss, perhaps its time to start fresh with another employer. Clean the slate and find a job where happiness and satisfaction can develop.
If these above actions sound like they are hitting too close to home, perhaps it is time to make a personal change. Hopefully there is still time to climb out of the hole. Ask for some time with the boss and outline an improvement plan. They will welcome the challenge.