What is your favorite topic of discussion at work? I am sure one of them, if not the most talked about, must be your boss. We observe and comment on everything our bosses do. What they wear, how they speak and their personality, whom they talk to frequently, who their favorite people are and whom they loathe. Some of you may also have mastered imitating them. Many of you might have been great fans of your bosses. Either for what they have done to you or how inspirational they have been to you.
There may also be many other things which make you lean positively toward them. At the same time there might be traits of your supervisor which constantly irritate you, things they do which you dislike them for and irrespective of your subtle and polite hints, there is no change to their behaviour almost as if they were addicted to it.
I have had great bosses and much of my career growth is attributed to my association with them. They were great in thought leadership, offered me support, feedback, guidance and applied the right pressure to get the best out of me. I am glad to say that I am in touch with all of them still (could be better with some of them 🙂 But by way of tribute to each of them, I thought it timely to take a walk down memory lane and recall some of the things they did which I thought was less engaging and at the time extremely frustrating.
- Stone-faced: He would never tell me how well I was doing. The guy had no emotion to display, not that he was overtly critical either. But as a top performer, I felt I needed reinforcements beyond the sales figures which were the envy of my peers. Even over a drink or smoke he would never loosen up. I did not know if I was having a drink with him or sipping coffee 🙂 Maybe a kid out of college wanted to have more fun with his boss.
- The Email Man: This guy would send tons of emails every day. I really dreaded joining an industry which was so email centric due to him. You could expect an email from him at any time in the day or night, though we worked in the same time zone. His work ethic of working round the clock gave me jitters about work life balance. Never had the guts to ask him to stop his email spam then 🙂
- Late: I am sure this trait is common to some of our bosses. As supervisors many of them are always busy, he was no exception, never late on intent, but a super busy guy. The number of cumulative hours we have waited for him cant never be accounted for. One client even sent us back for being late. The flights he missed, the number of rebooked flights, the blood pressure our drivers had transporting him cannot adequately be described on paper.
- The Bully: This guy had this strange knack of threatening you without any provocation. In team meetings he would say things like, “If any of you don’t like the strategy, the door is wide open for you guys”. A natural, a statesman like him would let himself down in public, by such frequent statements.
- The Gadget Freak: Just when I thought emails were my enemies, I bumped into this guy who was constantly in love with his phone and laptop. Anybody who talks to him can be assured that he will show how busy he is with his constant indulgence with his phone and many peeps into his laptop screen. I always felt some million dollar text or email is just about to land in his Inbox. He always made me feel that I am wasting his time and something else is more important to him even during our scheduled meetings
- James Bond: No, he never dressed like one, but constantly demonstrated his spying skills. He always wanted to show that he knew things beyond what he was informed or briefed on. Anything that you tell him would be negated by, “That’s not what I hear on the floor. People tell me something else Kamal”. One such email he wrote to my colleague checking on me even landed in my inbox once 🙂 He used to make me suspicious about many of my own team mates.
- I, Me, Myself : I guess this needs no further explanation. I see parts of that in myself too. Most of his articulations will always have his past or any great acts of his which solved a problem, or created an impact, and he would mostly conclude by saying “You should learn from me”.
So that’s just a few on a long list in my journal, now then what about me? What are the things that I do which might be peeving people who work(ed) with me. A couple of things which I am personally working on (for almost a decade now) is my terse emails writing style relating to things I believe that need to improve or that with which I do not agree. Another trait I am conscious that needs replacement is my sarcasm. My colleagues often cannot tell if my comment is a harmless jibe or a serious feedback.
In each of us there exists traits that are bound to trouble others at work and not just if you are a supervisor or a manager.
What are the things you do which you think need to change when dealing with your team? And what does your boss do that constantly irritates you?
I’m wired to chillies, sarcasm seems to stem from there.