July 30, 2008
Bosses from hell: Is it our responsibility to manage them or does HR need to send them to Good Boss Boot Camp?
It's no secret that a number of middle managers are simply worker bees who did their job so well that they were promoted to a supervisory position, regardless of whether they had any inkling about how to manage and motivate others.
As an homage to Hell Bosses everywhere and the employees who put up with them, Harvard Business Publishing's David Silverman wrote a funny blog post this week called 11 Habits of the Worst Boss I Ever Had. Here's my personal favorite from his list (which, by the way, happens to freelancers all the time):
Agree to deadlines and then accelerate them. Ask loudly from the hallway if the document is ready at 4:59 p.m. Announce: "I'm here late tonight if you want to finish it up."
The hilarious comments on bosses gone bad at the end of Silverman's post are well worth the read, too, including the ones suggesting (albeit sarcastically) that it's an employee's job to take some responsibility for his or her relationship with a Hell Boss. For the record, I agree -- to an extent. In the above Hell Boss scenario, for example, a little laying down the law couldn't hurt. Behold:
Sorry, Boss. But if you honestly expected me to have that 16-page report on your desk Monday morning, you shouldn't have assigned it to me Friday afternoon. I'm out of town this weekend, and that's not going to change.
Of course, we all know that attempting to set boundaries with a highly irrational or abusive manager won't get you very far. In some cases, putting your foot down may even get you shown the door. (Probably why this bigmouth has worked for herself for more than a decade.)
So, readers, what's been your solution when you've found yourself mismanaged by an inept boss -- and your once-balanced life suddenly off-kilter as a result? How much ownership have you taken of the situation, and how much have you had to just grin and bear it? Have you ever left a job because your boss was "untrainable"?
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Kristen Fife is a senior recruiter, career mentor, blogger and resume consultant based in the Seattle area.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
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