Classic: Behaviors Managers Hate, Overview

Originally published November 16, 2011

I've blogged extensively about the way corporations and their leaders dehumanize and disengage their employees.  The nature and structure of large corporations creates a political environment fertile for this type of behavior – a place where the guilty are free to repeatedly victimize and where innocent bystanders are frequently run over.

In fact, my previous series of Classic posts dealt with a variety of extreme leadership types that are regularly present in large corporations.  These are very difficult to eradicate, and they often lead to ultimate failure of the leader and sometimes the company.

But what about the other side?  What drives managers crazy?  What makes their lives difficult and complicated?

Over the next few weeks, I will republish a series of posts describing the eight most irritating behaviors in which subordinates engage.  The rank ordering is strictly my own -- a combination of the frequency with which I observed the behaviors, and the intensity of the negative reactions.  My advice?  See if you can find yourself in here.  Even if you’re a manager, you’re most likely someone else’s subordinate and could still be driving your boss nuts.

I know I personally engaged in one of these behaviors on a regular basis – because my boss eventually told me it was driving him to distraction.

Top Eight Behaviors Managers Hate in their Employees.

1.  Fairness whiners – These subordinates can be found complaining about anything and everything, particularly where they think somebody got more/better than they did.

2.  Blinder wearers – These employees show no understanding (or even interest) in how their particular cog fits into the company machine.   They can be found constantly identifying everything you ask them to do in terms of "in the box" or "outside the box" (as in complaining a necessary task is “not my job.”)

3.  Entitled – These employees never appreciate anything nice done for them.  Instead they focus on what concession you can give them next.  Free morning coffee quickly become "hey, where's my coffee?", and "why don't they give us free doughnuts, too?"

4.  Clueless – A large number of employees believe they are in their company's top ten percent of performers.  Why, you might ask?  Because they have no idea how their performance really stacks up.  When you try to explain it to them they often ignore your words, become peeved, and sometimes even belligerent.

5.  Blamers -- Nothing is ever their fault.  For every problem there is always an external cause, an uncontrollable mitigating circumstance, or an excuse.

6.  Cowards – These employees watch as a disaster unfolds, but never say a word about it to management.  Perhaps they are oblivious, but more likely they are afraid of catching a share of the blame.

7.  Idea Spouters -- "Management ought to..." is their constant refrain.  These employees are quick to toss out an idea (often unworkable), and quick to assign blame when what they envisioned doesn't happen.  The Idea Spouter seems to never volunteer for the harder work of actually implementing their suggestions.

8.  Clock Watchers – These employees are never willing to commit an extra minute to the cause, but are often quick to ask for flexibility for their personal issues.  When it's crunch time, you can't depend on a clock watcher. (this particular issue seems to produce  high emotions, and was extensively commented on when the subject was originally tackled back in 2011.)

Certainly this list isn't exhaustive.  If you’re a manager, please feel free to identify the behaviors you found most annoying in the comments section below.

In subsequent posts, you will find a deeper exploration of each of these behaviors.

Posts in the “Extreme Leadership” Series:

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To the right is the cover for HEIR APPARENT.  Someone is killing corporate leaders in Kansas City.  But who?  The police and FBI pursue a "serial killer" theory, leaving Joel Smith and Evangelina Sikes to examine other motives.  As the pair zero in on the perpetrator, they put their own lives at risk.  There are multiple suspects and enough clues for the reader to identify the killer in this classic whodunnit set in a corporate crucible.

My novels are based on extensions of 27 years of personal experience as a senior manager in public corporations.