These Bosses Shared Their Top 5 Employee Pet Peeves. Here's What You Should Stop Doing Today.
Work + Life Balance

These Bosses Shared Their Top 5 Employee Pet Peeves. Here's What You Should Stop Doing Today.

by Lisa Gordon
Photos Diana Zapata | August 17, 2015


Everyone’s got their quirks—little habits in life and at work that you likely don’t even notice. But is it possible that what you’re doing—or not doing—is getting on your boss’s nerves, even if unintentionally?

Here’s a list of commonly cited pet peeves among higher-ups from a variety of different industries. Make sure you’re not guilty of any of them!


We all do it—a little online shopping, maybe surfing for dinner recipes, or researching hotels for your next vacation. Bosses agree that surfing the ‘net every now and again is fine and generally unavoidable, but they warn against getting caught in the trap of thinking you can get away with too much. “Trust me…we know,” says one managing partner of a mid-size firm.

Browsing too much on the Internet while at work could be a signal that you don’t have enough work to do. {Click to Tweet} If that’s the case, check in with your manager about it. They’ll likely gladly provide you with new tasks, and perhaps even more responsibility. Plus, they’ll respect the initiative you took in speaking up.

Too much online shopping could also mean something else, though: boredom. If you’re not feeling motivated by your current job, it might be time to start looking around for something that’s going to excite you. (Though of course it goes without saying that you should do that research on your own time!)

Related: Here's How to Stop Tolerating Your Job and Head Out On Your Dream Career Path

One exception to the personal Internet use rule is that staying up-to-date on your company or industry’s news is important. Allotting a minimal amount of time for this each day could lead to a constructive impact on your work performance. 


“It sounds silly, but it’s important,” one boss says. Every office is set up differently—in some of them, everyone’s desk is right out in the open in one big room; in others, people are hidden away in cubicles or private offices, perhaps spread across multiple floors. So while it’s not always easy to say goodnight (or hello in the morning)—and it certainly isn’t a requirement—it does add a personal and friendly attitude to the work environment.

For many of you, your boss’s office or desk might be out of the way, and trekking there every day just to say goodnight could give the wrong impression: you might distract them or inadvertently suggest you’re kissing their butt! But every once in a while, find a reason to stop by or send a farewell email.

“I like it when my employees check in sometimes on their way out the door,” says one director of a nonprofit organization. “They’ll give a quick progress report on something that happened that day, or even just let me know what they’re up to that evening. It establishes rapport, and leaves behind a sense of good will.”


Sometimes projects go awry, deadlines come up at the last minute, and priorities are rearranged. And sometimes, those things happen at 4:52 p.m. No one’s happy about this, but it’s unavoidable. Not being willing to push up your sleeves after hours is a major pet peeve of bosses.

“I have a life that I want to get home to also,” says one department director of a large software company. “But putting in extra time off the clock demonstrates dedication and teamwork. I definitely take note of who’s there and who’s not.” {Click to Tweet}

Staying late every night just to impress is never worth it, but knowing when to put in that extra hour or two could play to your advantage.

Related: Are You Living to Work or Working to Live (And Does It Really Matter)?


We all know how agonizing it can be to re-read an email again and again, making sure it’s perfect, only to miss something. It happens. But too often than not, managers are seeing their employees send emails that have egregious typos, mistakes, or errors in them, and it’s frustrating—especially when that email goes to a client or customer.

“Even a small typo sends a message,” says one boss.

Bosses are quick to acknowledge that the occasional typo isn’t a major deal-breaker. It’s when they happen frequently, or when a major mistake seems to indicate carelessness on behalf of the employee, that might require action.

Read over your important emails and documents at least once before you send them (and remember that spellcheck doesn’t catch everything!). It’s not the most glamorous part of the job, but everyone’s got to do it.


“I hate when one of my employees is talking about a project—especially in a meeting—and doesn’t acknowledge a teammate’s individual participation or accomplishment by name. It’s an inadvertent way of taking all the credit,” says one boss, who manages a team of 12.

Giving due credit is important, even if it’s small. {Click to Tweet} Saying, “thanks especially to Sarah for XYZ” or “Megan was the one who found the answer,” sends a big message: to your team, to the person receiving the credit, and to your boss.

Think of it as name-dropping, but in a good way—it shows you’re paying attention and giving respect to who’s doing what, well. This is even a big “to do” in a one-on-one with your boss: it shows leadership and confidence.  

Related: The Feminine Woman's Guide to Office Confidence

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Small adjustments in your daily work behavior could have a bigger impact than you think on how you’re perceived at work. But at the end of the day, everyone’s human—you and your boss included! The most important thing is to be cognizant of the impression you’re making and to be putting in your best effort, even when you think that the little things you do might not matter.