What Good Bosses Hate to See, Part 2

Last week's fly-on-the-wall discussion of managerial pet peeves continues.


Last week’s post took a stab at what would be said in a room filled with good bosses who had been asked what they hate to encounter on the job. The discussion continues:

“Now that we’ve reconvened, let’s run through what we identified last week: You hate surprises. You hate when people permit a small problem to grow into a big one, or when someone boasts about the brilliance of the organization. You hate people who kiss up and kick down, as well as supervisors who don’t develop their employees. Any others?”

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“You forgot that we acknowledged that we’re in a bubble—and then Ed used the comment that 'the only open-door policy that works is the one you walk through' as an excuse to leave.”

“I had a legitimate reason!”

“Well, some of us got suspicious. Which brings me to something that drives me up the wall: I hate it when people expect me to be their personal hit man. They come to me about a problem that they’ve got with Tom or Ellen and expect me to shape up the offender—without mentioning their names, of course. Granted, some problems belong in my hands, such as ‘Tom has a gun in his desk’ or ‘Ellen is harassing me,’ but if it’s a garden variety problem, I want them to try to talk it out first. If they can’t resolve it, then they should come to me.”

“Oh yeah, the old ‘let’s you and him fight’ routine. My gripe is a lack of initiative. I want people who get things done without heavy involvement on my part. Better yet, I want them to anticipate what needs to be done before it’s nipping at our heels. The person who stands around and waits to be told is playing it way too safe.”

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“They’re afraid of making mistakes.”

“I know and whenever I see that, I wonder if I have been micromanaging and creating some fear. But there are people who simply fail to run with the ball. They want to be micromanaged.”

“Their close cousins are the ones who constantly bounce decisions upstairs. You know, the upward delegators. I start to wonder why I have them around.”

“Well, my pet peeve is the complainer who never brings in a realistic solution. I’ve encountered people who note a problem and then ask for a gold-plated solution. They want something that would require a 50 percent budget increase, 10 more staff members, or a new CEO. I’ll be happy to address problems, but recommend a solution that’s within reach. I’m not a miracle worker.”

“That brings us to the subject of how good bosses are likely to mess up. Be thinking about that. We’ll deal with it next week.”

Michael Wade writes Execupundit.com, an eclectic combination of management advice, observations, and links. A partner with the Phoenix firm of Sanders Wade Rodarte Consulting Inc., he has advised private and public-sector organizations for more than 30 years.


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