5 Easy Ways to Irritate Your Boomer Boss

by Marie on August 15, 2012 · 13 comments

If you are lucky enough to have a job, it is likely that you are working for someone who worked their way up in the industry or company – someone older than you, probably someone born between 1946 and 1965.

As an ex-manager and a baby boom generation member, I can personally vouch for the fact that certain behaviors (no matter what the age of the person demonstrating them) irritated the heck out of me at work. In my opinion, these behaviors contributed to workplace discontent and lack of productivity; and also sometimes made me wonder about the suitability of the employee for their job.

So, here are 5 easy ways to irritate your boss!

Expect special treatment.

Unless and until you have proven your excellence at getting this job done, done well and done on time, don’t think you are entitled to a cube by the window, a bonus or pay raise, exemption from following office procedures, or an extra day off. Just coming in each day on time and doing your assigned task doesn’t warrant special treatment – it does keep you from getting fired for the most part though.

If you are a junior member of the company or group, without special skills, training or experience, don’t expect everyone to perk up their ears to listen to your suggestions on getting the job done. As Robert Heinlein says in Citizen of the Galaxy, “If you don’t have status, you aren’t listened to. That was a universal rule.”

Don’t expect the boss to bend the group schedule to meet your needs. Don’t expect to take long lunches or come in late. Don’t expect to be able to have long personal phone conversations or spend the day visiting back and forth with your co-workers.

As a manager, continually dealing with requests for special treatment was an annoyance that took me off task, diverting my time and attention away from critical mission work.

Text constantly during meetings and conversations.

Cell phones are are remarkable invention and can be very useful tools. However, unless you are expecting critical, business related texts, keep your phone on vibrate and your eyes and thumbs off your phone during meetings and conversations at work. The person in front of you deserves your time and full attention. Not only is it rude to text while you are in a conversation or meeting, it wastes precious face time – time you should be using to use to build a relationship and trust.

This wasn’t a big problem when I managed people, but it is irritating now in social gatherings – when I am trying to converse with someone who is constantly checking their phone and texting.

Surf the net, work on your side business or shop online at work.

Unless your job requires these activities, you are wasting company time doing them. The company is not paying you to surf the net or shop online – and you may be putting it at risk with the web neighborhoods you visit. The company is not paying you to work your own business, and may in fact, be entitled to any product, invention or document produced by you for your business on company time or equipment.

As a manager, if I walked by and saw people goofing off on the internet, I knew they were not being fully utilized or they were not getting their jobs done. If this happened, I tended to first make sure their work was getting done, done well and on time. If so, I tended to step up the pace for the entire group – since they obviously were not getting enough work to do.

Expect step by step instructions for every assignment.

There may be some jobs where an employee is given step by step details and is expected to only and always follow those. However, in most areas, an employee is hired more for their skills and intelligence than their ability to follow rote instructions. Lots of structure and oversight of work assignments is just not in the cards for most of us (thank heavens!).

It used to really surprise and anger me when I gave an assignment to an employee who then expected me to solve all the problems related to the assignment. I managed computer programmers and business analysts. These folks had education, training and experience. I expected them to tackle the issue, come up with solutions, decide on the best one and go get it done – possibly with one or two touch base meetings.  I was trying to deal with the larger picture and it was most distracting to be asked to step in and do a piece of the job that I thought was being handled by a competent associate.

Have you encountered things that irritate you as a boss (or have you identified things that irritate your boss)? What are they?

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 William @ Drop Dead Money August 16, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Oh, there surely are more – I just know you stopped at 5 as a test to see if we can add a few more! So, okay, I’ll bite :-)

– ask for a raise every quarter
– be late, for work and/or for meetings
– complain about coworkers (especially the hard working one)


2 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 16, 2012 at 5:40 pm

lol…. you added some good ones, although for some exceptional employees (or very good reasons), a couple of them might be excusable.


3 Marissa @ Thirty Six Months August 17, 2012 at 1:39 am

Waiiiitt. I can’t ask for a raise every quarter? And you provide detailed instructions for every project. Hmmm


4 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 17, 2012 at 9:14 am



5 mary w August 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

As a (now retired) boomer HR manager I gotta agree especially with the “expect special treatment”. Drove me crazy! Even if I wanted to, how could I possibly give everyone special treatment??!? Even if I didn’t need to get any work done. My favorite was a mediocre employee wholeft for another job because I “didn’t make her feel special.” Get a clue, you’re only special to your mother.

Another irritation was entry/lower level employees who didn’t want to doentry/lower level work. Even it you’re bright and capable of more, somebody’s got to make copies and be the receptionist. It ain’t gonna be me when I hired you to do it.


6 gerald August 19, 2012 at 4:28 pm

How to irritate your Gen Y employee: Give him a job he does well, quicker than you and any older co-workers, and that frees him some time to go home at 5pm. Load him with more of the work you are unable to do so he can’t leave before 8 or surf the web. Gen Y employee will resign once he realizes he does more work, better and faster than anyone and still can’t breeze on the web once in a while.


7 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 19, 2012 at 4:44 pm

Gerald – geny?
As a manager, a person usually is responsible not for doing individual contributor work, but for working through others.

It’s great when you find an employee who is good at what they do, who does it accurately, quickly and cheerfully.

Breezing the web may be ok in some offices, but not in others….depends, but it definitely can bring security concerns IF the employee is using company networks and equipment to do so.

Hopefully that geny employee will line up a new job before resigning from a paying one in this environment….it’s always easier to get a job when you have one!


8 gerald August 25, 2012 at 8:20 am

Generation Y is the generation born in the 80s-90s. Digital natives, don’t like authority and know-it-all. Fast, usually efficient if they love what they do, but have a real gap with boomers.


9 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 26, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Gerald, I was asking if you are a Gen Y, not what a Gen Y is.


10 Charlotte@TheCCI August 22, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Hi Marie! This is my first visit here and this post is hysterical! I love it! I have a friend who works as a manager in a large corporation and she has told me more than once that if she can just find someone who will show up to work and be on time, that it is a miracle now days. Amazing! Aside from firing someone, what strategies should managers use to deal with these types of expectations and behaviors with inexperienced employees? It seems like college grads are less and less prepared to deal with the real world of employment and managers need to be prepared to deal with these issues in a productive way that serves everyone. Thanks!


11 Kevin @ SpringCoin August 22, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Take a longer than usual lunch break :)


12 Marie at FamilyMoneyValues August 22, 2012 at 6:54 pm

….works to irritate…..unless the boss is with you!


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