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5 behaviours that drive bosses crazy

Robert Half International

e.g. Registered Nurse

Toronto, ON or M9N 2Y9

Certain things you do endear you to your boss. And then there are those that frustrate your supervisor and may even jeopardize your future.

Unfortunately, your manager may not always tell you that your behaviour is driving him up the wall. Here are some of the top offenses that could land you in the corporate hall of shame:

1. Impersonating an ostrich. You may know problems are cropping up -- a client is becoming increasingly irate, a project has gone awry or there are systemic issues that need everyone's attention.

Don't keep your manager in the dark. Bosses don't like to have to confront problems either, but they also don't want them to be neglected until it's too late.

Speak up when there's a problem that's too big to ignore. You may not relish the role of messenger, but your manager will appreciate that you had the guts to raise a flag, rather than stick your head in the sand while there was still time to rectify the situation.

2. Being high maintenance. This quality may seem like a requirement in the celebrity world, but it's rarely on any other manager's list of desirable qualities in an employee. Bosses appreciate professionals who take ownership of their tasks and can work without constantly needing guidance or positive reinforcement.

Though you should ask for help when you're truly unsure about how to proceed with a project, be careful not to monopolize your manager's time and attention. Focus instead on improving your listening skills and acting on the feedback you receive so you can learn to work more independently.

3. Thinking the office is your stage. Some people think the office is their outlet for drama. Managers don't agree. Few things become more tiresome to bosses and colleagues than working alongside people who make mountains out of molehills and manufacture conflict.

Leave the drama to your community-theater pursuits. Your manager will appreciate you much more if you simply carry out your projects in an unfailingly professional way, rather than complaining at every twist and turn.

4. Talking a good game. A good way to exasperate your manager is to continually promise big things -- "Sure, I'll have that project completed by Friday," -- and fail to deliver. This behaviour can become such a pattern that bosses end up feeling uneasy counting on an employee to do what is promised and disappointed in themselves for allowing the predictable cycle to repeat itself.

If you suspect you're guilty of chronically overpromising and under delivering, have an honest discussion with your manager about the problem. Maybe one or both of you can shed some light on why it keeps happening. Try to work together to figure out how to escape the pattern. For instance, setting incremental goals may help you rein in the tendency to make grand, but unrealistic, promises.

5. Deflecting criticism. Almost everyone drops the ball at one point or another. But rather than making excuses or being overly sensitive to constructive criticism, own up to mistakes and let your manager know how you plan to avoid similar problems in the future. Your boss will appreciate your willingness to confront less-than-ideal outcomes and will come to see you as someone who can be trusted to respond appropriately, no matter what the situation.

Even the most accomplished professionals occasionally engage in behaviours that are annoying to the boss. Take a look inside to see if you're guilty of any of these offenses. After all, someone who gets the job done is always valued, but someone who gets it done without causing the boss any concern, stress or frustration is the ultimate team player.

Robert Half International is the world's first and largest specialized staffing firm with a global network of more than 350 offices worldwide. For more information about our professional services, visit For additional career advice, view our career bloopers video series at or follow us on Twitter at

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