Ten things you should never say to your boss

In exit interviews, more often than not, the reason for leaving cited by most employees is that they were not given due recognition by the boss. The truth is that almost all bosses need to get their job done and any subordinate who helps the boss achieve his objectives is a valued employee and is generally well rewarded.

So, what is the secret to being the boss’s most valued employee? What are the things you should avoid saying to your boss in order to ensure you never have to give that exit interview?

1.       “Sorry, I missed the deadline”:

This is the line that all bosses hate to hear. The way to avoid ever saying this is to avoid over commitment. Agree to certain deadlines only if you are absolutely sure that it is within your capacity to achieve them. While, it is important to take on challenges, this must be done keeping in mind the existing constraints and available resources.

2.       “That task is not part of my job”:

To say such a thing is to display an utter lack of initiative. To stick to the narrow boundaries of your job description and refuse other work, no matter how irrelevant it seems, is a recipe for disaster. The world around us is changing at record speed and a flexible attitude is the need of the hour. For example, learning new technology may not be an official requirement for an HR professional’s job but if a new technical implementation is introduced, enthusiasm to learn and adopt this change is always appreciated.

3.       “This is not my problem”:

As a part of an organization or team, it is necessary to consider every problem that the organization/team encounters as your own problem. That is what loyalty and belongingness is all about. For example, if the company is going through a financial crunch, it is important to accept a smaller pay hike than expected with grace and work harder to help the company come out of the difficult situation.

4.       “This is not my fault”:

It is very tempting to place the blame for shoddy or incomplete work on someone or something else. Often, the fault truly isn’t yours and you might feel justified in laying the blame on the real cause, but do control that impulse. The basic management principle of accountability says that when you have been assigned a task, the ultimate responsibility for its accomplishment rests with you. Rajiv headed a team and was assigned the responsibility of increasing the company’s client base by 10 percent. One of the members in his team fell ill and the target could not be met. Rajiv assumed the full responsibility for the failure and worked twice as hard in the next two weeks to exceed the set target. This was greatly appreciated by his boss.

5.       “I can’t do  more than one thing at a time”:

The current trend is all about multitasking. The demands and challenges faced in the external and internal environment are so many, that to restrict oneself to doing only one task at a time, is not sufficient. Several demands, sometimes conflicting, are made of each individual and the trick is to prioritize all tasks in the order of importance. An example of such conflicting demands is when a salesperson has to improve the sales and learn the technicalities of the new software installed by the company.

6.       “I am way overqualified for this job”:

This is mistake that is often made by young professionals who are fresh out of fancy colleges and business schools. They consider a lot of jobs below their dignity, not realizing that the boss knows that every task, small or big, is a learning opportunity. Your refusal to take it up indirectly shows your negative attitude towards learning. Sheela was a Summer Trainee at ABC Ltd. On her third day in the company, her boss asked her to photocopy some documents. Sheela resented this “menial” task and her negative attitude was noticed by him. Even though Sheela did the project reasonably well, her boss never offered her a permanent job at ABC Ltd.

7.       “This can’t be done”:

Every task, no matter how challenging it seems, must be given a fair shot. To give up before one can even make an attempt, shows a defeatist attitude and bosses don’t feel they can rely on such a person to take up challenges.

8.       “Sorry I’m late for work – again”:

Bosses are always conscious of the time that you spend at work. Punctuality is a sign of discipline and not being on time for work, indicates that you might have a similar attitude towards work deadlines or important client meetings. Megha was always on time for work in the initial days of joining XYZ Ltd. After a few days, she felt that no one seemed to be keeping a track of her timings and she started reporting late for work. Little did she realize that her boss was quietly watching her and did not appreciate her tardiness. This later reflected in her appraisal.

9.       “I should be getting paid much more”:

We often make the mistake of comparing our salaries with those of others within and outside the organization. To ask for a raise based on such comparisons is highly inappropriate and never fails to irritate the boss. A case for an increase in salary needs to be built up and the boss needs to feel that your need for a pay hike is justified. Another common mistake is to assume that every piece of work done by you deserves a pay hike.

10.    “If that is the case, then I’m resigning”:

To issue threats to your boss is never acceptable. It is important to remember that no one is indispensable and such threats indicate an exaggerated sense of self importance. Shweta was her boss’s favorite employee and everyone in her team knew it. At the end of a one year probation period, she expected a huge pay hike and threatened to leave the company if she did not get it. Her boss did not appreciate this attitude and made no attempts to offer her more money to retain her.


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