Four ways to grind your employee’s gears

by Cameron Edmond18 Oct 2013

Let’s face it; we all want to do the right thing. No one goes into work thinking “today I’m going to annoy people” but every now and then, we all make someone cringe, someone moan, or someone get one of those headaches just behind the eye.

With a bit of creative thinking and some internet trawling, HC has compiled a list of four ways managers and employers are grinding employee’s gears. Are you a little guilty?


Pretending you are everyone’s friend
It is good to be approachable. Especially in the HR field, being someone staff can come and talk to is a great asset, and often strong friendships will form in the workplace – but sometimes this just isn’t the case.

“The kind of energy, chemistry and emotional bonding required for true friendship is significant. Neither you nor your team has time to be each other's friends. Sure there can be colleagues you like, but unless you use the term "friend" very loosely (and many do) don't expect friendship just because someone works for you,” Mark Sanborn, president of Sanborn & Associates, wrote for Entrepreneur.

Sometimes you and your staff can get along just fine, but you don’t share enough real interests to be friends. Expecting everyone to be your buddy and acting like it is a sure-fire way to annoy your less outgoing workers.


Never admitting you are wrong
We are all humans and we all make mistakes. No matter where you are in the chain of an organisation, sometimes you are going to get something wrong. “Learning to admit that you’re wrong is one of the best things you can do for your colleagues,” Business Insider wrote, drawing from Vicky Oliver’s Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.

Refusing to admit that you made a mistake is a great way to disengage your employees. If you can never be swayed, why bother having a conversation?


Calling on your day off
In a perfect world, we all love our jobs. But no matter how passionate we are about what we do, everyone needs a bit of downtime. So, receiving a phone call from work on a day without work isn’t just annoying, it is trespassing on the chill-zone, about in line with receiving a phone call from those people who need access to your computer because they found a ‘virus’…

Oliver stated that boundaries need to be set early to make sure this doesn’t occur. Some employees don’t mind, but if someone makes it clear they shouldn’t be called, it is best to wait until they come back.


Assuming your email is the most urgent one of the lot
There are a lot of different things you can pack into an email. Marking an email as important, or asking for a ‘read receipt’ can be useful sometimes – the email may be urgent, and so these things can help get that point across.

However, there is such a thing as too much. If every email you send is marked as important, flagged red, stuck with a read receipt or otherwise screaming “I am the most important thing in your inbox right now!”, it doesn’t sit well with employees. In fact, Examiner noted that excessive use of read receipts is one of the most annoying email habits around.

The reason? It is truly impossible to know what is going on in a colleague’s inbox. To always announce yourself as the single most important part (and to ask for a read receipt – which is essentially asking for a report on what that person is doing right now) of whatever they are dealing with at work at that moment is almost insulting to many employees.

Save these notices for when you need them (and there certainly are times!), or else they will lose their impact. If it is really urgent, you can always call.


What do you think of this list? Anything we’ve left out? What are some things in the workplace that really grind your gears?




  • by MM 21/10/2013 10:29:49 AM

    But be careful and don't actually tell your colleagues they aren't your friends. If you tell them you are merely friendly acquaintances, they don't tend to like it very much.