With Administrative Professional’s Day coming up, I give you–a blog on Bad Bosses.
Yep, Bad Bosses, not to be confused with Hot Bosses–the latter often found in…ahem…sexy romance novels, unless you are fortunate to have such a creature roaming around your common work area.
What do Bad Bosses (male or female) have to do with Administrative Professional’s Day? Chances are if you work in an office, your boss is going to take you to lunch and/or buy you a bouquet of flowers. How you view your boss and the professional dynamic you have with your boss may determine whether or not you 1. choke on the meal, or savor it 2. enjoy your flowers, or pluck the petals off one by one, imagining it’s the boss’s toenails you are calmly removing.
Ever have a Boss From Hell?
I’m talking about bosses with little boundaries; the ones who expect their staff to call around town to find out where their car was towed to because they’re to busy to look for it themselves, who want their secretaries to pick up their dry cleaning, who call staff at home after work hours to berate them. Bosses who throw people under the figurative bus to make themselves look good, or take credit for others ideas, and successes. In short, bosses who make it unpleasant and challenging to do the actual jobs their staff was hired to do.
Awkward boss moment for me? I’ve been kissed by a married boss. Strange, and unexpected. I was flustered with a project and he called me into his office to talk about it. He was sitting at the edge of his desk. I was at arms length as I spoke to him, waving my hands in frustration when suddenly he placed his hands on my shoulders, got this funny look on his face as he leaned forward and planted a big fat wet one on my mouth, which was gaped open from shock.
I’ve had a manager throw her paycheck at me and tell me I’d better “fix” her name issue since it was her maiden name on the check, and not her married name. I calmly told her she needed to fix it herself since she was told on hire, by me, that whatever name was on her social security card would be used to report her earnings to the IRS. (Why on earth would you get married, change your name, then ten years after the fact still run around with a SS card with your maiden name on it?)
One boss gave me the 3rd degree for taking down the wrong number to a bed and breakfast. She’d planned a weekend getaway, and the owner of the B&B called to leave a number where she could be reached. My boss was out of the office, and when she returned, I gave her the message with the number on it. The next morning, she stormed over to my desk, furious at me for taking down the wrong number since she tried it 3 different times, and now she could not get hold of the B&B’s owner.
I apologized, and added that I’d read back the number to the owner of the B&B. She tossed me the piece of paper that I’d written the phone number on, planted the phone in front of me, shoved the hand unit at me, and ordered me to dial the number. Dutifully, I dialed away. The call got through, and I connected the B&B’s owner to my shocked boss. When the call ended, I gave her my resignation.
A friend recalls how her new boss took the alphabetized filing sorter away from her, and hid it. She was told she was no longer allowed to use the sorter, and that filing would be done at once. A filing alligator, as they are often called, is as useful as a hammer is to a construction worker. At the end of the day, laughs my friend, there were piles of paper stacked alphabetically instead of sorted alphabetically.
A good friend’s rather interesting boss once waited in the hallway while my friend went on a bathroom break. It seemed her boss wanted to make sure that my friend was in fact using the restroom.
Often it’s not one thing that defines a bad boss, but bad habits and philosophies. One new boss I’d had claimed she was goal oriented, and if you weren’t going to help her reach her goals, then you’d better “get out of her way.” I figured she meant the “you” pertained to me because one day she was overheard on the phone telling someone how she intended to walk me out of the building along with two other employees she felt weren’t on board with her goals. In other words, we weren’t kissing her butt. We got out of her way all right. She was fired, and escorted from the building weeks later by HER boss.
Lesson here? The people that bad bosses trample over on the way up the corporate ladder often have the pleasure of watching them fall.
*My diverse career highlights include; scrubbing executive toilets in San Francisco’s business district, dressing mannequins in a Honolulu shop window, hawking fruit popsicles at trade shows, running a clothing boutique, and managing an office with the service philosophy that everyone I came in contact with, from janitor to CEO, was deserving of an outrageous alien thing called Customer Service.*