This is definitely one where I have to bite my tongue (or in this case, my fingers as I type). God knows I’ve had my share of bad bosses. I’ll try to be as vague as possible to protect myself and the guilty. If a member of the press asked my opinion of any of them, mentioning them by name, I would just smile and say something blandly positive.
The question is, where do these people come from? Bad bosses, like good bosses, come from all sorts of places. They may have worked their way out of the rank and file, gone to management school, come into a job with a degree, come into their respective positions with a sparkling resume, or even received an election or an appointment to lord over you. Given that, the Peter Principle is in effect.
Or, the Peter Principle doesn’t apply. They didn’t get plucked out of the crowd of laborers and they got into their job because they were highly qualified. They looked great on paper. However, they turned out to be psychopaths.
“Do as I say, not as I do” is their maxim. They can be grossly incompetent, but heaven forbid you following their lead. One boss I had never read the reports I gave her, but misinformed the accountant about being caught up (when my report showed evidence to the contrary). Also, she seemed incapable of hiring someone properly qualified to do my job, as several previous people proved to be unsatisfactory. I wonder if this has changed at all, but I’m no longer there to lose sleep over it or her for that matter.
Bad bosses are often verbally abusive. Another boss (years ago) was high strung and yelled at everyone. One time, I did not meet the dress code and I was upbraided not just once, but twice. He screamed at me about how unprofessional I was. Needless to say, when he got a heart attack, no one was sorry it happened. He came back, not changed by the experience and continued in his assholiness.
An employee’s personal boundaries are often ignored by bad bosses. While this boss may have been the most highly educated than the other examples, he proved to be just as charming. He called me at home at 10:30pm to get on my case about how I did not do a task according to procedure. After having him rant and holler in my ear, I hung up. The phone rang again, but I didn’t answer it. When I left that job, I was inspired to get caller ID for my landline.*
The lesson learned from of having my worklife punctuated by bad bosses? Definitely know what my rights are concerning them. Perhaps the most fitting way to deal with them is to walk away, leaving them mired in unfinished projects. However, that’s bad karma for the employee. Talk to their bosses, talk to HR, hold a tape recorder in front of them during meetings, or get an attorney. Maybe all of the above are necessary actions. I know I never have to put with it again.
*Before I had a mobile phone. In an era of mobile phones, I wonder about the wisdom of giving your boss your number. Better to call them than to have them call you.