Tuesday, July 21, 2015

How Not To Be a Needy Employee

As a manager, your job requires that you coach and develop your team. If you do not enjoy coaching and teaching and training, perhaps you should choose a career path other than management. Still, when managing, you can always run across needy employees, who require more of your time than the others, sometimes to excess.

As an employee, it is important to try to avoid being a needy employee. Some might perceive them underskilled, lazy, or just plain annoying. None of those qualities are ones that you want to stick with you around the office. So here are some tips on how to avoid being the neediest on the team.

Do It Yourself First

The neediest of employees need guidance on every single task. It is a miracle if they can sharpen a pencil without asking for how the boss would like it done. At its heart, this type of behavior probably stems from having a bad manager at some point and getting run over for not doing something correctly, in my pop psychological view. But that's no excuse. The best thing you can do to avoid appearing too needy is to never bring something to your manager that you haven't already attempted first. Many people are visual, anyway, and respond better to stimulus. It is much easier to critique something put in front of you than to express in abstract what you are looking for, and your manager is no different. Give him or her something to respond to, and you will get better results. You may even be done on the first try.


Sometimes it is easier to ask the boss. They know the answer, so should they not just share it with you? Chances are if you ask them, they will answer, but may also put you in the needy bucket. A snarkier boss would have you use lmgtfy.com (What is lmgtfy.com?), but most will just chalk up a strike against you. Rather than ask the stupid question, you sit in a better position if you have already done the research, even if it does not provide you the answer. Instead of asking, "How does the billing system work?" you might preface with your prior research. "I read a whitepaper and also searched through the software vendor's site, but I don't understand exactly how the billing system is able to identify part numbers to go on the invoice" explains that not only are you not lazy, but instead you are capable of learning things on your own and only defer to the boss when your efforts have been fruitless. 

Partner Up

You may have the other option of utilizing your peers as a first line of defense instead of your boss. They will have an incentive to help you so the team succeeds, while not presenting a negative view of yourself to the boss. Two hints on this one, though. First, don't overutilize your teammates, or they may view you as just as needy as the boss would. Second, offer something in return. People are more likely to help you willingly if they are getting something or know they could get something from you back.

Ask Yourself All of Your Questions

When you ask too many questions, you can appear insubordinate, as if you are challenging the authority of management. As a manager, you should encourage discussion and challenges to ideas to vet out the best ideas, but when an employee questions every single discussion it can become extremely tiresome, particularly when the questions have obvious answers. To avoid being that employee, ask yourself the question first. You might even jot your answer down. If you ask the boss the same question and get the same response you wrote down, chances are  it was an unnecessary question and you should have just acted without asking. There's an old saying that it is easier to ask forgiveness than permission. I don't know about easier, but if the questions could be answered by you nine times out of ten, it might be better to avoid asking at all and take the risk that one time out of ten you were wrong but decisive.

If you haven't noticed, there's a theme to all of these points. When you approach every problem first by running to the manager, you are needy. Take action yourself and follow up with the manager later, and you are not needy. It's a simple rule.

What other needy behaviors do employees demonstrate? Click to tweet at me and let me know.

Image credit: geralt via Pixabay