Inadvertently, or within a heated conversation, we often say things to the boss that we know we will have second thoughts about on that long walk back to our cubicle.
Maybe we forget that it’s the boss we’re even talking to, or that bosses have strong powers of recall and that small words can leave lasting impressions. Below we offer sage advice from Ken Scott, an executive coach with Axmith, a Canadian career-development firm, and Karen Coe of TMP Worldwide Executive Search on what NOT to say to the boss if you want to be around for the company picnic next summer.
- It’s not my problem. When a problem in the business or within the team is identified that is not in your direct area but does concern your boss, bring your ideas and capacity to contribute when you can.
- Silence. Saying nothing to the boss is just not helpful. Bosses expect input, information and ideas.
- It can’t be done or It’s always been done this way. Make an effort to find out how it could be done. Help your boss to better define what he or she is looking for.
- Want to know what my boss just did…? Saying something behind your boss’s back that you have not already said to his face invites future trouble should the grapevine make it to his ears.
- I’m happy where I am or I’m comfortable. Often such statements come from folks who are not willing to try a new assignment or in response to, “If you could, what would you change about your job?”
- I’m too busy to take new training. Anyone who wants to succeed needs to continually balance the urgent (what’s needed today) with the less urgent (what will be needed in the future).
- I need a bigger title. In today’s organizations, contribution and value to the business is not a direct reflection of title. Produce results first. Seek status last.
- I don’t do overtime. Professionals who are managing their careers do not count hours but invest in themselves and in training by learning more about the business and the customers. It’s often in the unofficial hours that conversations and information essential to relationships and planning occur.
- I only know the people in my department. No man is an island. It’s essential to know who the key leaders are in the enterprise, their driving philosophies and key measures, and how your team links to them. Everyone has a customer or is serving the customer.
- It’s my turn for a promotion. Entitlement is antique in corporate life. What you contribute, your unique skills and your ability to work with the business at all levels earn advancement. Time in the chair or waiting in line does not count.
- Ask someone else. When you are approached for an opportunity or request, pull together ideas even if you cannot come up with them yourself; be a bridge to the solution, not a stop sign.
- I booked my vacation for those days and cannot change it. Most bosses want to accommodate subordinates with time off, since fresh and recharged employees do their best work. However the reality today is that companies need flexibility to meet circumstances that do not always fit a personal calendar of preferences, such as mergers, new product releases, etc.
- I‘ve got nothing new to report. Staying too quiet about what you are working on can signal your boss that you are not engaged. Employers appreciate innovation and improvements in efficiency.
- Yes, but I was having a bad day. Making excuses when you’re confronted about a mistake only makes you look like a whiner. Own up to a mistake and reassure your boss it won’t happen again.
- Technology is not my thing. The world of technological tools and processes that enable us to become more efficient will continue to change the way we all work. Be a willing and proactive learner and be prepared to show others.