Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

Ways to Piss Off Your People Manager

One of the things I like about my current job is the variety of things I do in any given week. On Tuesday I might be painting a solar system model, on Wednesday I might be teaching, on Thursday I might be writing a script. On a pretty regular basis, though, I have to do some “people managing.”

Most of us have been in situations where we have to people-manage. Maybe you’re organizing a dinner party or a picnic, maybe you’re in charge of some sort of PTA thing (I’m sorry), maybe you’re a team leader of some sort in your workplace. People-managing can involve making sure a set group of people are at a set place on time, that everyone knows their responsibilities, and that the various personalities involved don’t cause the whole situation to blow up or shut down.

I’m lucky. My own people-management situations are pretty low-stress–I don’t have to manage entitled millionaires or drama queens, the events I have to plan are not a matter of life or death for anyone, and for the most part things tend to go smoothly. I sometimes say that I hate people-managing–I’ve never been very good at teamwork, prefer to work alone with the occasional bit of socializing and feedback / meetings–but really, compared to a lot of other job responsibilities I’ve had, people-managing isn’t that bad.

I also think I’m a pretty decent people-manager, especially compared to super-disorganized types who can really do serious damage in a workplace. But if you’ve ever managed or been managed (which, again, I think is true for most of us), maybe you’ll recognize some of my favorite Ways to Piss Off Your People Manager.

1. Make me email you multiple times with the same question / offer / request. Better yet, make me call you when you haven’t answered my multiple emails.  I don’t have a Smartphone, so I certainly don’t expect anyone to reply to me instantly. But after 24 hours I start to get mildly annoyed. 48 hours and I’m sending a follow-up email, and 24 hours after that I’m making a phone call that I really do NOT want to make.

I get that we all suffer from overloaded inboxes. I also get that you might be out of town, or sick, or just overwhelmed. But please, please, PLEASE. Don’t be a chronic email-ignorer. No one should have to spend an inordinate amount of time trying to get in touch with you.

2. Ask to leave early. Uh, no. If the schedule says we’ll be here till 5:00, expect to be here till 5:00. “X and Y, you’ve got to stay, but I’m letting Z leave early, just because he asked me,” said no one ever.

3. Be late and be cavalier about it. Yes, we’re all late occasionally. Trains, alarm clocks, whatever. I give everyone at least one free pass. But for God’s sake, if you want to see my psycho side, be chronically late and act like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal. You’re wasting my time and everyone else’s time. Yes, it’ll happen, but at least be suitably contrite about it when it does.

4. Expect me to be superhuman. I fuck up. Sometimes I tell you the wrong place, or the wrong time, or send you the wrong link. I try SO, SO hard not to do that, to the point where I often have trouble falling asleep because I’m making a mental checklist of whether I did everything right. Forgive my minor mistakes and I will forgive yours.

5. Talk shit about other people. We all need to vent sometimes, but I really do not want to spend an afternoon listening to you talk disdainfully about a particular person who might be my friend / co-worker / onetime drinking buddy (and who might have had only nice things to say about you the week before). If you’ve got a serious issue with this person, talk to HR or confront them, but don’t pour poison in other people’s ears.

I apologize to all my past people managers for surely having done these things at least once.

One comment on “Ways to Piss Off Your People Manager

  1. Mike
    April 29, 2014

    Been there! Ugh…

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This entry was posted on April 28, 2014 by in (post) Grad life, Japan and tagged , .
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