It always surprises me when I meet oh so clever university graduates who have read just about every book there is on salary negotiation and career advancement, but don't have the slightest idea about how not to irritate their boss.
Unfortunately, unless you open your own business, chances are high that you are going to have a boss for a rather large portion of your career. And chances are equally high that getting on the wrong side of said boss is not going to do your career any favors.
While that certainly doesn't mean that you need to bring your boss a cup of coffee every morning, it does mean that you should probably avoid making any of the following mistakes. After all, you do want to be promoted, right?
Attempting to Hide Problems
When you've lost an important client or you're behind schedule on a big project, the urge is always there to try to keep the fact hidden unately however, the chances of you keeping it a secret forever are incredibly small. And when your boss cannot trust you to bring bad news to him when it happens, that's likely to be an even bigger problem than the one that you were trying to hide in the first place. Therefore it's simply a necessity that when you mess up, you own up.
Pretending You Know Things You Don't
When your boss asks you a question, ideally you are going to know the answer. There are always going to be occasions however when you don't. During such occasions, the last thing that you want to do is to make a guess. This is because while you might look smarter when your guess is correct, you are going to look like a complete fool when your guess turns out to be wrong.
Regularly Talking Behind His Back
Very few people exactly like their boss and disagreements are not uncommon. Although discussing such disagreements with your boss can be highly beneficial, discussing them with your co workers is simply asking for trouble. You would be surprised by just how fast backhand comments tend to get around the average office. Therefore either discuss your problems directly or don't discuss them at all.
Being Unable to Handle Criticism
In much the same way that discussing disagreements directly can lead to a more effective professional relationship, it's also important for your boss to be able to tell you when he/she has a problem with your performance. Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to handle criticism and this can be a major problem. If you get upset, or worse angry, whenever your boss questions how you are doing something, chances are he/she will simply stop doing so. Although that may seem like a nice idea, in the long run, it's going to significantly harm your career prospects.
Being Full of Excuses
Unless you happen to be a robot, chances are that you are going to make a number of mistakes throughout your career. Such mistakes are inevitable, regardless of how hard you work or how smart you consider yourself to be. What's important is that you both accept when you make a mistake and that you attempt to learn from it. If you keep coming up with excuses, it tends to give the impression that you have no intention of learning from the mistake that you've made.
Not Knowing How to Use an Iron
If you work in a casual environment, and one that is free of customers, provided you remember to wear pants, you can show up looking whatever way you like. But if you work in a more formal work environment, a certain appearance is expected. You need to shave, keep your hair presentable and your suit shouldn't look like you've slept in it. Although it may seem unfair, when it comes to formal workplaces and promotion, appearances do matter.
Not Keeping Your Word
When you say that you are going to do something, you do actually need to do it. Many people seem to get the impression that as long as they say yes to everything, they are going to look good in their bosses eyes. Unfortunately, this only actually works if you actually mean it when you say yes. If you say that you are going to take on a particular task and that it will be done within a certain time frame, make sure that you keep your word.
Keeping Agendas Hidden
As well as wanting your boss to believe you when you say you will do something, you should also want him to consider you a credible, honest person. Everybody has agendas and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you attempt to hide an agenda from your boss and he subsequently find out, your career is going to suffer. Unfortunately, attempting to manipulate your boss can seriously backfire, it's simply not worth the hassle.
Generally Being Irritating
If you have done even the slightest bit of research on career advancement, you are likely to be well aware of the importance of social skills. Although, you certainly don't need to be an enigmatic extrovert to get ahead in your career, you do need to be able to hold a conversation without making it painful. You need to know how to make small talk and you need to know when not to make small talk. It might sound unfair, but if you're boss can't stand talking to you, he's very unlikely to promote you.
Showing Zero Initiative
Finally, there are many times when it makes sense to ask your boss to help you with something. But if you get into the habit of asking for your bosses assistance with everything other than tying your shoes, you are not exactly going to look like management material, are you? While you should never be afraid to ask for help on important matters, if the decision is even remotely mundane, you should always use your brain, not your mouth.
Guest Bio: The author of this blog, Sebastian, is an education and career expert and writes for a london charity jobs website. He has authored many posts about avoiding mistakes and creating a good impression at the workplace.