by CIO Staff

Top Annoyances at Work

Jul 05, 20053 mins

When it comes to annoyances at work, office politics and loud cell phone usage lead the way. Runners-up are the times that work starts or stops, office settings and too few or unclear memos.

In a survey over a base of about 2,000 senior executives and managers nationwide, the majority ranked office politics, loud cell phone usage, being put on hold and excessive e-mail as the top annoyances to them while conducting business, whether in the office or on the road.

Other top annoyances ranked were clarity and amount of communication, interruptions, lack of or changes in direction and the number or length of meetings.

“It seems to me that people are more and more busy with their careers instead of with the company,” said one survey respondent. “So there is less cooperation, less ’real’ communication between people and then a poorer output to the market.”

Said another: “The biggest annoyance is complete lack of communication from above as to corporate goals, objectives and significant events. In fact, there is virtually no communication on any subject. Weeks pass without a single word, written or verbal, even in response to communication from me. It’s no wonder corporate strategy seems adrift.”

From the perspective of some, faulty communication can be the fault of the recipient. “My main annoyance is working with people who lack listening skills,” said one respondent.

In addition to communication issues, annoyances at work vary widely, from decision making to issues of leadership.

“The one thing that annoys me the most is the inability of managers to have the courage to make decisions on their own without worrying about covering themselves in the event it does not work out,” said one senior executive. “This leads to excessive meetings, memos, etc. If you make a mistake, admit you are wrong and try to correct the problem!”

Said another executive who responded to the survey: “I’m a corporate officer working for a micro-managing CEO who is also passive-aggressive. Of all my beefs, having this kind of boss is the biggest. My job and productivity would be so much better with a stronger leader. My past CEO (different company) was a star and consummate leader. I never really appreciated how significant leadership could be until being poorly led. I have now become much more reflective on my own leadership skills and style. However, I guess no one is so poor that they can’t be used as a bad example.”

But to the majority, it is still office politics that ranks as the top annoyance.

“The greatest annoyance is the quest for power most senior people (including this one) exhibit throughout their careers,” said one manager. “It is a failure of modern American management to teach what is a mystery to most and a blessing to a few, which is giving people their place and seeking interdependence above independence.”

“Some annoyances are part of a normal working environment, but unfortunately, the most damaging items are also the most challenging to control,” said another respondent. Office politics are a great example. Politically charged offices spend far too much time trying to build empires and enhance status vs. driving shareholder value.” With so many trying to get so much done at work these days, it can be the annoyances that drive people over the top.

Managers should identify what annoys them most, and focus on either eliminating it, minimizing it or at least consciously deciding to live with it, thereby lowering its rank on their annoyance list so they can get on with business.