Poor communication. No manager likes to feel blindsided. Establish a way to keep your manager up to date on your work while being transparent whether the news is good or bad. Do not mislead him/her with incomplete information. If you do not know something, just let him/her know that you need time to find out more information.
Most managers do not like to be “out of the loop.” Make sure your manager is updated whenever there is a change in plan, a change in timeline, a safety incident. You should be the one to communicate, concisely, to your manager when there is a change or incident. Many managers do not want to hear excuses and don’t want (unhappy) surprises. So, if there is a risk your project deliverable will be late, let your manager know. Explain the risk, and your contingency plans for managing the risk. Always communicate with management professionally and concisely.
Lack of appreciation for how long projects actually take to complete when following all company policies and requirements.
A hot button I've seen for managers is not being given accurate timelines. Everyone knows that delays happen. Once the first delay happens, the best approach is to lay out a timeline with clear and conservative deadlines and action steps. Otherwise, continued delays can really push people's buttons, especially when patience is repeatedly tested.
This article has been edited for length and clarity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of their employer or the American Chemical Society.
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