17 things you should never say to your boss

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    "Leave me alone!"

    I said it to my boss at Radio Disney many years ago. I was a young, very high-performingsalesperson, and he was my sales manager. Even though I was generating huge salesnumbers, I was often late to work, or meetings, and every morning, as I passed by hisoffice, he would look down at his watch and shake his head disapprovingly.

    I knew I was wrong to be late, but I got increasingly frustrated by his looking down at thatwatch, his complaints to me, and his lack of positive recognition about my salesaccomplishments. So one day, after coming in at 9:05, just 5 minutes late, and seeing himlook down at that watch again, I marched right into his office and told him to leave mealone.

    I got sent home that day by my boss. We eventually mended things, and came to anunderstanding about how important punctuality was to him, and how important positivefeedback was to me. But our relationship was never totally mended.

    Fifteen years later, now I am a boss, and have had my share of interesting things said tome. I believe all leaders and managers should try to keep an open mind and encourageopen communication from all of their reports. Still, perhaps there are some things better leftunsaid? To find out the answers to this question, I asked 17 young "bosses" -- leaders fromThe Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) -- what the worst thing they'd ever been told is.Here are their answers, or what not to say to your boss, followed by my own personalanswer to the question:

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  • In China, it is very common for a lot of employees to work just forthe money. This means they will leave if you fail to give them a raiseor if their peers start to make a lot more money than they do. Ourinterview process has filtered this as much as possible but if wehear through the "grapevine" that the person is just doing the job forthe money we will let them go very quickly.

    - Derek Capo, CEO and Founder, Next Step China

    2. 'You Never Told Me to Do It'

    When something important doesn't get done, the worst thing youcan say is, "You never asked me to do it." There are few betterways to neglect yourself of that promotion, a raise, or even jobsecurity.

    - Ken Cauley, President, Advanced Media



    3. 'There's Something Wrong'

    It's easy to complain about what's wrong. It's hard to come up withsolutions to fix the problem. My former manager at LivingSocialsaid, "Be a problem solver, not spotter," and I've taken this advice toheart in my everyday life. If you see a problem, don't address thesituation with what's wrong; address the situation with an answer. Ifyou don't have a real solution, wait until you do.

    - Sarah Ware, Markerly



    4. 'I Want to Do What's Easiest'

    We have a client who had an employee literally explain that hewould rather do a particularly menial task than the task that theemployer had assigned because it would be easier for him. Wewere shocked. This is the most explicit way to alert your boss thatyou don't care about improving your skill set without directly tellinghim. Never do this if you care about your career!

    - Patrick Conley, Founder / CEO, Automation Heroes

    5. 'That Takes Up Too Much Time'

    Through the years, we have had many operational restructuringsthat have required large amounts of data to be filtered and edited orre-formatted in some manner. There's nothing worse than anemployee who complains about the amount of time required tomove the company to the next level.

    - Laura Land, CFO / COO, Accessory Export, LLC


    6. 'I Could Be Doing Other Things'

    Bratty much? Don't complain about your job. If you hate it, quit. Ifthere's something wrong with it, find a way to fix it. If someone orsomething is really ticking you off, don't project your anger ontoothers, especially not your boss. If it's a good job, be grateful for it.If you want more out of your job, make it happen. Be diplomatic

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  • - Danny Wong, Co-founder, Blank Label

    7. 'I Promise to Do That'

    Don't ever tell your boss you're able to do something if you knowyou may not be able to deliver. It is better to be honest, ask foradvice and have a proactive attitude. If you fail to deliver, then it hasnegative repercussions for the business, which is taken much moreseriously.

    - Christopher Pruijsen, Co-Founder / Partnerships, Afrostart.io


    8. 'It's Too Difficult'

    I get fired up when someone is paralyzed and doesnt complete atask because its difficult or because few others have done it. Werea disruptive company that has to innovate, that has to do things fewhave done before us. One of my advisors here has a quote: If itwere easy, everyone would be doing it. We wont win if we dontthink big.

    - Marcos Cordero, Chief Gradsaver, GradSave, LLC


    9. 'I Agree to Disagree'

    Whether it is said explicitly or passive-aggressively, this mindsethas no place in startup culture. Those who have this mindset shouldeither found their own startups or go work in big corporate Americawhere this goes unnoticed. At a startup, you're either all the way inor all the way out.

    - Danny Boice, Co-Founder & CTO, Speek


    10. 'I Don't Have an Opinion'

    The people who just sit and nod their heads are the ones who areexpendable. If you want to make an impression as a valuablemember of the team, offer your insights. No one ever agrees withhis boss 100 percent all the time, so make your opinion known ifyou have something worth saying.

    - Nick Friedman, President, College Hunks Hauling Junk andCollege Hunks Moving

    11. 'I Can't'

    I dont want to hear excuses ever! We focus on hiring can-do,positive, creative employees with passion, drive and determination.

    - Kuba Jewgieniew, Founder and CEO, Realty ONE Group



    12. 'I'm Not Optimistic'

    The most important thing for any team member is to stay optimistic.Being a pessimist and doubting the future of the company is a realdowner. There is nothing wrong with being realistic; however,people who are melancholy suck the life out of an early-stagecompany and cannot last long.

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  • .

    13. 'I'm Clocked Out'

    There is nothing more discouraging to an entrepreneur than whenan employee says he is not willing to go the extra mile because heisn't "clocked in." We remind our employees that they work for ayoung company and they are in control of their own careers. Actingwithin the status quo never gets you to the top!

    - Darren Solomon, President, Kid Ventures


    14. 'That's Not My Responsibility'

    Its critical that everyone feels invested in the success of all areas ofthe business. Everyone should be willing to pitch in, even if whatsrequired isnt part of their normal day-to-day activities.

    - Robert J. Moore, Co-Founder and CEO, RJMetrics



    15. 'That's Not My Job'

    Your responsibilities aren't limited to what was listed in your originaljob description -- especially at a startup. Unless your boss is askingyou to do something illegal or unethical, you should do it.

    - Mary Ellen Slayter, Founder/Managing Director, ReputationCapital



    16. 'I Don't Like Working for Other People'

    An employee actually told me that he didn't like working for otherpeople. That person doesn't work for me anymore!

    - Andrew Angus, CEO, Switch Video



    17. 'I'm Not Working Hard'

    I never want to know that someone who works for me isnt workinghard. People can disagree with me, and Im fine to hear criticism. Illnever lose respect for anyone because he disagrees with me orbecause they failed. I dont want to know if someone is giving lessthan their best effort or that someone lied. I have high expectationsof people when it comes to their work ethic.

    - Dries Buytaert, Co-founder and CTO, Drupal


    As for me? I can actually handle, even encourage, most of the statements above beingsaid to me, because as long as they're honest, they'll help me build a better company andhelp my employees find their place, either at one of my companies or elsewhere. I'd ratherknow what people really think, so I encourage people to feel comfortable saying anything tome. The one thing I think you should never say to me or your boss? A lie. I've writtenbefore about the importance and power of honesty. In employee