I’ve been in the workforce for just over a decade now, both as a manager and as a bottom level employee with no direct reports. In case you were wondering, that’s just long enough to realize a tension-filled relationship with your boss does not make for good times. It’s not fun as the man in charge, and it certainly isn’t very enjoyable as the guy causing departmental headaches.
I’ve had complete duds for employees and, at times, I’ve been that dud. As the one-time overseer of a dozen horrible employees, I drove to work for month-long periods, banged my head on the steering wheel and thought, “What would happen if I just didn’t show up? Can I do that? I wonder how much money we have in savings right now?”
Maybe I can save you some of that pain. Or maybe you’re trying to get yourself fired and this list is a first step in the right direction. Either way, these are five proven ways to make your boss hate you.
1. Complain about your pay and continually ask for a raise.
Why is it the people who complain and whine the most about getting a pay raise are often the same people who don’t work hard enough to earn it? Yes, there’s a time to point to your track record and your accomplishments and tell the big guy to up the ante. But you’ve got to have something to point to, and there’s a time and a place to do that. When you agree to work for a certain amount and then proceed to bicker about it repeatedly, you’re really showing your boss how much he’d regret handing more responsibility over to you (which is, after all, the reason you’d get more money).
“Because you need the money” isn’t a sufficient reason your boss should give you a raise, but if you’re looking to drive him nuts, feel free to remind him every chance you get that you’re strapped for cash. In general, it is best to wait until a company outing after you’ve had a few beers to broach the subject. This is a splendid way to keep him looking for reasons to send you to the basement with roach spray and a stapler.
2. Do as little as humanly possible to get by.
Some people are better at avoiding work than they are actually doing it. They’ll eventually get the task done, if you ask enough times. I’ve employed guys like this, and regrettably so. Like the velociraptors in Jurassic Park that test the electric fences to find out just how far they can go, these people figure out how to do as little as possible without getting fired. Couple this with the first point and you’ve got a winning formula for driving your boss insane.
3. Be a “brown noser.”
While it’s good and right to have a desire to please the guy who signs your paychecks, nothing will sink your ship more surely in the long run than telling your boss only what you think he wants to hear. When you refuse to give your real assessment of an idea or project, you cease to be an asset to him. If you want to prove yourself redundant, keep echoing all of his own thoughts back to him. Good bosses see through the fog of the suck-up and will find a way to surround themselves with team members who push and challenge the organization to get better—and you won’t be on that team.
4. Don’t respect other people’s time.
When you show up five minutes late every day, regularly miss deadlines or continually run 20 minutes behind on appointments, you’re telling everyone else you lack respect for their time. There’s no more direct route to making your boss (or an entire office) regret having you around than by being late on everything. It’s also a huge trust issue—if you can’t keep your word about a simple meeting or deadline, why would anybody hand you the keys to the business?
5. Think of work primarily as a place you take, not a place where you give.
Work is a simple thing, really. You get paid money for a contractually agreed upon task and everyone goes home happy. But for whatever reason, the workforce is filled with people who aren’t really there to contribute—they’re there to take. They’re quick to ask for time off or for their boss to work around a difficult schedule, but they’re not willing to stay late to meet a deadline. They’re quick to say they need more money but rarely find ways to contribute more than what is expected or agreed upon.
I used to remind certain employees who had this mindset, “Look, this is a two way street. It’s a give-and-take relationship. It goes both ways.” But then again, peaceful coexistence might not be your thing and you might just need a way out. In that case, take and take some more.