Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


Do you feel like your employees are tuning you out? More than usual, that is.

Do you worry that they're whispering behind your back like the pretty things in Mean Girls?

I have a feeling, you know, that you've perpetrated one or more of these frightful errors.

Is it salvageable? It depends on how you react.

1. You've made promises you didn't keep.

Yes, people are frightfully selfish and hypocritical. But they're OK with that if it's them doing it. They're not OK with you doing it. So if you've promised someone a raise, a promotion, or even a part of a project--and then you didn't deliver--faith is immediately lost.

2. You've turned up late and didn't apologize. Three times.

Employees can be forgiving. Especially if you have a little charm about you. However, if you keep turning up late for meetings and wafting in like Caligula after a horse-riding lesson, they won't give you much leeway. There is, in my experience, a three-strikes rule here. After that, you're done.

3. You've come on to one of your team. Unsubtly.

All sorts of personal shenanigans go on in business. But there's a real disdain for those who blatantly think they can get away with it. You've been seen holding hands in the office bar. You know, the one just around the corner. You've tossed less-than-secret smiles at the one you covet. In meetings. Oh, you didn't, did you?

4. You make cursing a sign of competitiveness.

Some curse words--especially the F-One--carry an onomatopoeic aggression. Some managers curse not because they love swearing, but because they think it shows how keen they are to win. It's grating to many human ears, though. And a touch boorish.

5. You take credit when it isn't due.

You might think your immediate reports don't know how much you crow to your bosses about, well, yourself. But these things filter through. So if they hear you taking credit for their work--or even for someone else's on the team--they're not going to
like it.

6. You set your employees up against each other.

Yes, you think you're clever. Machiavelli would envy your grasp of manipulative nuance. For a time, making your employees fight like poodles in a dogfighting ring might even work. The trouble is that you can resort to this strategy too often and suddenly you'll find your employees conspiring against you. They'll enjoy it, too.

7. You have obvious favorites.

Oh, you might not even be trying to sleep with them. Perhaps it's just that you see a young you in one or two of your underlings, so they get the best projects. Perhaps you slip them a little more money. Others will see it. Others won't like it. And anyway, if your favorites are like you, they'll soon have their own favorites. You might not be one of them.

8. You think you're funny and your employees don't.

Humor is hard. Ask David Brent and Michael Scott in The Office. Ask Donald Trump. Some managers prefer to perform rather than manage. This is understandable. Managing can be both dull and frustrating. Everyone needs levity to get through it. But are you really as funny as you think you are? Go to an open-mic night at a comedy club and find out.

9. That temper of yours.

Yes, sometimes you get mad because an employee has done something very, very stupid. This would distinguish your employee from you, because you never do anything stupid at all. Ranting, though, is likely going to be misplaced, especially if the rest of the time you think you're funny and your employees don't. Ranting can be so primal that it can seem like an insight into the real you. And who wants to see that?

10. Your personal hygiene would appall Tom Ford.

Self-awareness is very important if you're going to manage people well. This includes the odor you might give off. It's all part of creating an atmosphere. Some people simply have better personal-hygiene discipline than others. And if you aren't aware you're causing a little nose-holding in meetings, then you should be. Nasal hair protruding beyond your nose isn't a good thing either. It suggests a certain sloppiness.

11. You poke your (possibly over-hairy) nose into everything.

This can be one of the most difficult things for some managers. Oh, some of the most famous entrepreneurs in the world are said to be guilty of it. But there are limits to micromanagement. If you overdo it, it seems like you have no greater vision beyond being an utter control freak. And truly, who likes spending their days with one of those?