Smacking gum, co-workers interrupting conversations, your cube mate always having the last word; everyone has his or her own office pet peeves. But some behaviors and work habits can have a truly negative effect on your relationship with your boss.
As a CEO, I offer the following 10 Don't Do's:
- Say that you know something when you really don't. I might like a know-it-all even less than a brownnoser. The answer "I don't know, but will find out" is always better than fudging your way through a conversation. Sure, there are topics and data points related to your role that you probably should know, but in an increasingly cross-team, cross-functional project world, it's impossible to know everything. So don't pretend to. And certainly don't guess, even if you think you know. You either know it or you don't.
- Do exactly as you are told, even when you know it's wrong. You have a brain; that's why I hired you. If you know that a task or project I'm asking you to do is not going to produce results or if the data I am making decisions with is less complete than yours, please let me know and let's talk about it.
- Announce "It's done!" when, nope, it's not 100% done. Positive thinking is great and everyone loves that feeling when approaching the finish line, but a lot can happen in that last sprint. Let's stay as transparent as possible on project status to best manage everyone's expectations. (See #4.)
- Celebrate a sale that hasn't signed yet. The "counting your chickens before they're hatched" idiom is true. I hate seeing peoples' reputation scrambled by confusing a very promising-looking prospect with an actual sale. You have a sale when the contract is signed and the money is in the bank. That's when we celebrate.
- Arrive 5 minutes late to meetings. We are all busy; we all have a lot of appointments. Showing up consistently late to meetings (whether your CEO is present or not) is a mark of disrespect and poor time management. Sometimes I daydream about locking meeting room doors after five minutes, like those college professors we all thought were so strict did back in the day, to keep the meeting's integrity. P.S. If you must arrive late, please do your best to catch up, because we're not going to waste everyone else's time with a recap.
- Be the same person you were six months ago. My ideal employee is miles from where he or she was personally and professionally in each successive year. My company, Blinds.com, takes a pro-active approach in encouraging employees to grow themselves in and out of the office. We share our personal projects with one another for accountability and provide opportunities to become better. In fact, continuous improvement is such an important part of our employee annual review that those who cannot display how they've taken action in improving their lives and those around them may risk losing that next promotion opportunity.
- Refuse to accept your own weakness and avoid coaching. One of my main roles as CEO is to help others become better. It's important to me that my employees are open to their own areas of growth opportunity, just as it's important to my employees that I remain constructive and thoughtful in coaching them to further greatness. Let's be open with one another and grow together.
- Tell me you'll be late on delivering a project on the day that it's due. Bad news fast is always the best policy to keep collaborative efforts on track and expectations managed appropriately. At Blinds.com, many of our teams have adopted an agile approach to project management, negating concerns about surprise missed deadlines. But regardless of your personal framework preference, you owe it to yourself to keep your team in the know at all times. Even when the news is less than grand.
- Whine (about other employees, the weather, traffic, your workload). Just don't. Having a frustrating day and venting is one thing, but being "that guy" who's always bellyaching about issues beyond his control is another. Your office isn't an adult day-care center, so let's act like grownups and get some cool stuff done.
- Give up. Never stop caring, never stop testing, and never stop pushing. Never, ever give up.
What are some of the behaviors you avoid to keep the peace with your leadership?