If you're reporting to someone (and most of us are), it's best to stay on stay on his or her good side. A fractured relationship with your manager is never productive and almost always leads to the door.
Here are five things to avoid:
1. Sending e-mails early and late in the day.
This is an old trick and a good manager is well-aware of what you're doing. If you're an early riser and there's a reason to fire off a 6 a.m. e-mail, by all means do it. But it's not the time to send a link to "an article I thought you may find interesting." If you send me an e-mail at midnight, I assume you aren't going to be well-rested the next day. And unless it's urgent or you're in start-up mode, avoid e-mails on the weekend. I don't assume you're working on the weekend. I assume you took a break from updating your Facebook profile.
2. Throwing others under the bus.
Take accountability. If you find you are defending yourself for something you didn't do, there are tactful ways to explain yourself. Immediately naming names never goes over well. And if there's no way around it, soften the language. Take the high road. Always.
3. Being late for meetings.
If the meeting is in a neutral location, show up a few minutes early. If the meeting is in my office, show up right on time. Managers get annoyed when you're early, even if it's a few minutes. They don't expect you early. Never be late, regardless of the location. Time is money.
4. Typos in e-mails.
There's never an excuse for a poorly written e-mail. Take your time. E-mails are a digital footprint and could end up as part of a larger thread or on the CEO's desk. Typos reflect poorly on you. When I get an e-mail from a direct report with a typo, I assume they don't care. And if you're applying for a job to work for me, your resume goes in the garbage before I finish reading it.
5. Lack of updates.
Unless your manager specifically tells you not to send updates (unlikely), it's always a good policy to update your manager of what you're working on. A quick bulleted e-mail is fine. Managers are busy and don't always have you top of mind. A quick, succinct update is a welcome read.
(The author has been managing for 24 years and at one crazy point in his life had 22 direct reports. Blame that one on his manager.)