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February 11, 2008

Seven Real Ways to Know Your Employees Hate You (From an Expert)


Part of being the boss is having people hate you. What’s the fun of mastering that maniacal evil laugh if people don’t feel their skin crawling when you walk in the room?


Now, along comes Inc. Magazine with what it calls the “7 signs that employees hate the boss.” They think you need proof.


I was a little surprised not to find “they’re breathing” on the list, but maybe things aren’t quite as obvious to Inc. as they are to me. According to Inc., you know the employees hate you if they’re afraid to walk by your office, if they quit a lot and – this was my favorite – if they never criticize you in your “360 evaluations.” Because they’re afraid.


Actually my favorite part of that last one is Inc.’s apparent belief that your typical company actually does these silly 360 evaluations. But we’ve done that column before.


According to the measures offered by Inc. (and there are four more, but I’m bored already), every boss in America is hated by his or her employees. I’m not saying this is implausible. We’re trying hard, after all.


If you really want seven signs that employees hate you, you need to get them from someone who knows. Here’s what I’m talking about. These are the seven ways you know your employees hate you:


  • Employees regularly walk up to you and say, “I hate you.” That’s a real telling sign. But you could miss it, if you’re one of those read-everything-between-the-lines types: “What do you suppose Thel meant when she said, ‘I hate you’? What an interesting question to ponder. Perhaps she was trying to compliment me on my choice of belt. Perhaps it was code referencing some of our financial data. Where is my management book?” Think hard, sport.


  • Their bizarre life situations always coincide with when they’re supposed to ride places with you. “Can I meet you there?” Everybody always wants to meet you there. No one wants to ride with you. And their excuses don’t make sense. “See, immediately after the meeting, I have to pick up my cow from the kennel.” Who puts a cow in a kennel? “Right. That’s what makes it such an extraordinary situation and why I need to meet you there.”


  • You know how you mentioned that you can’t stand the smell of potpourri? Suddenly it’s in everyone’s offices. What an amazing and annoying coincidence! Wait. You don’t think . . .


  • Dartboards. Your picture. Together. Most popular activity in the office. Connect the dots, as they say.


  • Do you have a nickname? What do you mean, no? You think you have no nickname. How do you find out? You could read their e-mails, of course, but they would hate you for that. Or you might decide that you just don’t want to know. Suit yourself. I hear yours is “CrapE.O.” Maybe I heard that wrong. Don’t worry about it.


  • The employees never socialize in the office. Now, you might think, that’s a good thing, right? They’re there to work, not talk. No, dummy. Of course they’re going to talk. If they’re not doing in it in the office, it means they don’t want you to hear what they’re saying, so they wait until later and do it at the bar. If they’ve got their mouths shut and their eyes on their computer screens all the time, it’s because they’re checking their listings on Monster.com, Mr. Big Shot.


  • They say of bosses who are adored by their employees, “They would run through a wall for him!” Yours take up a collection to hire a charter jet to fly over the wall, or negotiate a peace treaty with the wall. They ain’t running through nothing.


But let me save you the trouble of worrying about any of this. If you are a good boss, some people will still hate you, because a good boss makes the decisions that are right for the whole company, and not everyone will accept that. It’s when you start trying to make everyone love you that you stop making good decisions, and run the risk of everyone hating you.


That’s because the right decisions will benefit most of the people, but the wrong decisions will hurt everyone without exception.


If you can’t stand having anyone hate you, get out of that big chair. It’s not for you. But rest assured, at any rate, that the people who know you best will never hate you.


Unless, of course, you’re a complete jerk.


© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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