7 Reasons Your Boss Hates You

Passed up for a plum assignment, promotion or raise? It could be because your boss doesn't like you.

A couple of years ago, I wrote an article called "7 Reasons Your Employees Hate You." It was a missive to managers struggling as their career paths thrust them into roles where driving behavior from others was the focus of their job. Of course, we're all interested in our career path. And unless you've started your own company, you've got a boss. For many of us, that boss holds the power to help you on your way down that path – as long as you don't piss him or her off.

The truth is, I don't hate any of my employees. I only hire people I really like. Yet, over the years, I've certainly seen a few behaviors that have ticked me off. Here are seven of them.

1. You throw coworkers under the bus.

Some people will tell you that politics are inevitable in business. They take this as permission to throw colleagues under the bus in an effort to make themselves look good at their "competitors'" expense.

If you're one of those people, let me tell you something: It's transparent when you do it, and it's a very unattractive look on you. If your boss is any good, the one thing he or she is trying to do is build a great team. When you strategically undermine your coworker, you are undermining that team-building effort. You are undermining your boss.

That's not to say you shouldn't communicate to your boss if someone else's performance is an obstacle to your own. There's a fine line between sacrificing someone who doesn't deserve it for your own personal gain and being candid about the behavior of someone who does. But reality is high-def: The line is fine, but it's crystal clear.

2. You don't accept responsibility.

As a leader of a company in an industry that demands innovation, I embrace risk. I know we need to fail to learn. I also know mistakes happen, but I see that as an opportunity, too. If we learn from our mistakes, we turn a failure into a success.

But I also value candor and taking responsibility. If someone comes to me and says they screwed up, the first words that come out of my mouth are likely to be, "What did we do to fix it?" followed quickly by, "What did we learn so we don't make the same mistake next time?"

The first thought that comes into my mind, however, is that this person in front of me has character. It's the exact opposite when someone isn't willing to stand up and admit to a mistake that they've made. It's a signal that I can't trust that person. If your boss can't trust you, he or she will likely be skeptical of your accomplishments and more critical of your mistakes in the future.

3. You avoid accountability.

Every job has some level of ownership that comes with it. There are decisions you're empowered – and expected – to make and ones that you need to run up the food chain.

You get paid to do a job. Your salary compensates you for value you provide to a company by performing at that job. Part of that value comes from making decisions that impact that performance. If you ask your boss to make decisions that you should be making, you are shirking accountability. In doing that, you are diminishing your value in the eyes of your boss. 

4. You don't share credit.

Kevin Durant was recently named the NBA's Most Valuable Player. He gave credit to everyone under the sun: his teammates, his coach, his mom. Did that generosity in any way diminish his accomplishment? Of course not.

There are many degrees of not sharing credit that happen in business. They range from the thoughtless to the outright sleazy. Let's face it: More than one jerk has climbed the corporate ladder by stealing ideas and stepping on the necks of coworkers. But do you want to go through life being a jerk?

The irony is that you don't need to. When I see someone on my team go out of his or her way to recognize others for their efforts, I see them as a leader, a team player, the kind of person that I might want to promote.

5. You abuse trust.

Simply put, when your boss puts their trust in you and you abuse that trust, they aren't going to like you for it. Sure, we all play hooky sometimes – maybe we have a doctor's appointment and go to a Giant's game instead. People who work for me don't have to lie to me if they have Giant's tickets because I trust them. I give them freedom because I really value having people I know I can trust working for me. As long as they get the job done right, I trust them to make smart decisions. We're all adults.

Abusing trust when it's given to you is not an adult thing to do. It's immature and it's dishonest. And nobody likes to feel lied to.

6. You're reckless.

Rules are made to be bent. Process is the front in the battle between bureaucracy and chaos. Making a thoughtful decision to cut a corner is often the smart thing to do. However, it's a slippery slope from making an intelligent decision based on a particular circumstance and throwing out the rule book and playing cowboy. The reason we have process and a way of doing things is because business is high stakes. Companies deliver high-quality work or they lose their customers. And when companies lose customers, people lose jobs.

To be honest, I'm not much for rules at all. But this isn't about rules. We have them in place so we make sure we deliver quality work. When you are reckless about making sure we deliver quality work, well that's putting your boss and everyone else around you at risk. They are not likely to be happy with you about it.

7. You leave dirty dishes in the sink.

I really don't know how your boss feels about you leaving dirty dishes in the sink, but I have a virulent disdain for people who dump their sloppy oatmeal-crusted bowls in the sink and walk off. It shows an arrogant disrespect for your coworkers.

Sure, sometimes the dishwasher is running and you leave a coffee mug on the counter. We've all done that. That's not what I'm talking about. People in business spend a great deal of our waking lives in offices. We share those spaces. If you disrespect that space, you're disrespecting your coworkers. Your boss – and everyone else you work with – will probably hate you for it.

Does it matter?

Of course, none of this is to say that making your boss love you is always the right thing to do. Your boss may suck. Only you can decide if you want to work for this person. But all of the reasons that I've mentioned in this article have to do with integrity. Maintain yours and you'll be the kind of employee any good boss would want on their team.

Related post: TCG's Top 10 List of Bad Habits of Annoying Coworkers

Adam Kleinberg is the co-founder and CEO of Traction, an interactive agency based in San Francisco. He was named one of the 25 Most Innovative Digital Marketers in the United States by iMedia Connection in 2012 and an OMMA All Star in 2013. He has worked with such brands as Adobe, Virgin Mobile, Clorox, Walmart.com, Bank of America, Intel and CamelBak. In 2013, Traction was an Ad Age Small Agency of the Year (Silver, West), a finalist for iMedia Small Agency of the Year and overall "Interactive Agency of the Year" by BtoB Magazine.