Leadership

Worst Boss Ever


My clients come from a broad range of industries.  But regardless of their specialty - tech, telecom, media, broadcasting, real estate, travel, performing arts, retail, banking, finance, whatever - almost all of them have stories about crappy bosses.

Doesn't matter what level the individual is working at; I hear as many bad boss stories from folks at the low end of the totem pole as I do from those who wear more stripes on their sleeves.

It's one of those consistent laws of management. We all tend to regard ourselves as being leaders who are thoughtful, caring, and enlightened while seeing our bosses as thoughtless, self centered and dim.  (This should cause you to wonder about your team's true feelings about your style.)  I thought I'd share a great 'bad boss' story today.  It's so bad that it seems unbelievable.  I know it's true because I was there to witness it.  It took place in the boardroom of one of the largest retail chains.

The routine of this retailer is to have a monthly meeting involving all the senior leaders to review each's performance from last month, discuss how the current month is doing and then forecast the outlook for the coming 2 months.  It seemed like a good approach - allowing all the leaders to know what's going on across the company and what the near future holds overall.  The only problem with it resided with the CEO.  He hated bad news.  If you were one of the leaders going into that meeting with a less than stellar report or prediction, it was nerve racking because the CEO would often make an example out of the 'poor performers'; lambasting and being extremely cranky.  He considered this to be open and honest discussion.  The people presenting thought it was simply old fashioned bullying using new technology for the presentations. What took place this one day convinced me that this retailer's CEO was a solid candidate for worst boss ever.

A business unit leader was standing in front of the assembled group - about 20 department or unit heads.  He was looking at a huge screen at the front of the room on which his numbers were blown up with a font size that looked like about 100.  He clearly knew his report wasn't going to be well received.  Because the room was a rectangle it was almost impossible to focus on the screen while looking at the audience; so the presenter didn't see the CEO stand up.  Nor did he see (as did all of the others around the table) the CEO pick up a rather heavy leather chair.

It was clear from the look on the presenter's face that he could not comprehend what caused the clunking sound behind him and he turned to face the audience to see what caused the commotion.  No one in audience was looking at him.  All around the room, everyone was looking at the floor, or checking their tie for spots.  Except the CEO who was looking directly at him.  Then the hapless presenter realized there was a chair lying on its side just in front of him. He looked around the room and back at the CEO, who then said, "If you show those kinds of numbers again mister, the next time I'll hit you with the f-ing chair!"

I believe this was the clearest example of a boss behaving badly that I've seen.  Was he the worst boss ever, though?  Or have you seen similar bad behavior? Let us know and share them with us. Misery loves company.

                                                                    - john

                                                                   Career Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

79 comments
kcanfield
kcanfield

Speaking of worst bosses ever a client of mine, Taleo, just posted a video on "Career Horror Stories" that I thought some of you might be interested in watching since it is Halloween Eve and all. We did a bunch of man on the street interviews and talked with local San Franciscans about some of their worst job experiences. I hope you enjoy it! Here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItyPjyuEJK8

Techie31
Techie31

After reading this blog I am so happy to find out I am not the only one that worked for a boss that needed his meds upped. The one I worked for came to us due to a melding of 2 school divisions, the one I worked for happily for 9 years and his. First thing I was to find out about him was he divided the department against itself his guys vs the other division. then gave his guys a hefty raise and none to us. then he pulled us out the schools we worked in and put us in the basement to move old systems around. i was told by him that i could not smoke on city property in front of the building while his guys smoked on divison property against the rules byy the way. that my doctor was liar that my back that i hurt lifting my 150 monitor was all in my head. when i came back to work after being off for 6 weeks with a sore back for light duties, the first thing he was have me empty a pallet of Macs. when I camplianed to my workers comp rep he cut off my phone use. i could go on with my year from hell but there is not enough space. I got fired from this job for email abuse after I sent him an email saying that if I could not use my email at work then he would have find another way to keep me in the loop because i would not read my work emails at home. Needless to say he is still working there and even went to a employer i was working for to make my life miserable which was against an agreement that prevent my going to the laborboard. A lawsuit and settlement soon shut him up

rycherulz
rycherulz

I don't think this necessarily qualifies as the worst boss ever, and doesn't fit in the category of a certifiably insane or psychotic boss story. However, it certainly fits into the "that's just not right" category. This is circa August 1995, and I was only 1 year out of college (B.S. in C.S.). I was working for a God awful computer manufacturer (now bankrupt and disappeared; gotta love kharma) as a Help Desk agent, and was looking for ANY job to get me out of my $10.95/hour Hell. Lo and Behold, God delivered me from my white cubicled prison, and hooked me up with a small 3-man outfit doing various things including fire/life safety inspections, preventive maintenance consulting and (I was told) computer desktop support. Well, they got everything right except the "desktop support" part, unless you count 1 computer job every 3 months "desktop support." Initially I had no problem with that, because I do tend to get bored being stuck in an assembly line, "the same thing happens every day," kind of job. I appreciated the dynamic atmosphere, and didn't mind it at first. However, only getting one computer job every 3 months, my skills deteriorated and I started making rookie mistakes. The owner would then berate me like I was a blithering idiot. Being the fraidy cat that I was, I never confronted him on it and dealt with non-stop safety inspections for years. Eventually, partly through my (and my co-workers) hard work, we built the company up to the point where he had to start bringing in additional full-time help. The owner hired his brother, who had been working part time on weekends for a few years. I had zero problem with that because I liked him and considered him a friend. Well, it stopped being fun when I started to see a pattern developing that I didn't like around late 1998 into 1999. The owner started giving his brother more and more responsibilities, which included supervising me. Since I was the one who trained him to do that job, I was understandably ticked off. The boss said that this was because he was "waiting for me to pick up the ball and run with it" and I didn't, he just gave the job to his brother. I was never led to believe anything had changed and that the owner was doing the job of supervising the small staff we had. This is the way it had been since 1995 when I started working there. Previous to this pattern, I had always been complimented and positively reviewed for my work and overall job performance. All of our clients had nothing but nice things to say about me. That all changed when the brother became my supervisor. All of a sudden, I was getting bad reviews, nothing I did was right. Once again, I was a fraidy cat and just dealt with it, figuring I would eventually get on his good side when he saw what a conciencious and hard worker I was. WRONG!!! The harder I worked, the worse my reviews became. The only thing I can think of is that he was threatened by me. This pattern increased until January 2001, when I really got pounded. I got an absolutely atrocious review and peformance appraisal from the brother. Also, at the time, I had started to grow my hair long, which he hated with a passion. I was brought into his "office" (he had a cubicle with 5 other people in a room, but he called it his office because it puffed up his ego and self-importance) and was told that if I didn't immediately cut my hair to a "man's length" that he would find a way to get me fired. Despite all of my coworkers telling him he was stuck in the 1950's and that he was dead wrong, he continued on this "anti long hair" campaign. I had enough, and immediately started actively, hard-core looking for another job. If you remember you recent history, the internet bubble had burst and layoffs were everywhere. I couldn't BUY a job at that point, and had no luck whatsoever. Due to my stupidity in allowing my skills to deteriorate and not getting out of that job years before, I had no marketable skills that any IT company gave a crap about. In August 2001, I was accused of insubordination and a made-up reason of charging 12 hours of work for a 6 hour job. I challenged him in the office that if he could do that same job in 6 hours that I'd quit myself. He didn't want to hear it, and I was summarily fired. They replaced me with a noodle head who not only couldn't do the job in 12 hours, but took 24 HOURS to do that job that I had been accused doing in 6. 1 month later, the September 11th attacks happened, and as I saw the smoke rising from behind my house in NJ, I knew I would be out of work for the forseeable future. I was out of work until Feb 2004. Learned many valuable lessons at that job in what not to do, what I shouldn't tolerate, and when to get out.

mail
mail

I have had two really bad bosses in my 20-something year career. Not reall bad, I guess. These two were just terrible. My first bad experience reminded me of the "Scab" guy. I worked in a production plant, and I had a boss that always had to scratch himself. And I don't mean quick, discrete scratches, I mean all-out digging and pulling, out on the floor in front of everyone. He never seemed to notice people staring, and laughing. I met my wife at this job, and she said all the production workers talked about his prodding and poking, constantly! Of course, I would have mentioned it to him, but he did not take any kind of helpful suggestions very well, so I continued to let him dig, and the workers laugh! My second bad experience was a little more serious. I had a boss that was re-assigned to our plant form another city. His wife had a career where they lived, so she did not move with him. There were several of us single guys that would go out clubbing every night, and he started going with us. He was a lot of fun, but always drank too much. He would also sometimes hookup with a female he would meet at the clubs, and leave with her. He was always coming in late, looking VERY hungover. If his wife would call before he arrived, it was always my job to explain where he was. I had met his wife at company gatherings, so it was very awkward to have to make up a vague reason why he was not at work. Eventually, he got divorced, but his career continued upwards - drinking and all. Last I heard, he was a Program Manager! He was good at his job, just not good with his employees.

jim
jim

I had a boss who made the boss you discussed seem tame. I was VP of Sales and he was the President. He once was upset because he was warm. So he did the logical thing, he ripped the thermostat off the wall. We had a great guy on our management team who was from Egypt. One day our boss called one of our other offices in another city where this employee was having a meeting. He asked the receptionist to interrupt his meeting so he could speak to him. When the receptionist said she didn't know this person, my boss said, "Go into the board room and the one who looks most likely to hijack an airplane is him." He would regularly tell us our only job was to make him look good. He would call us at home and swear at the top of his lungs at us. He would call us demeaning names. It was a brutal environment. So brutal that I left the company and wrote about it in "Bleedership, Biblical First-Aid for Leaders" (www.free.bleedership.com). In the book I contrast my boss' leadership style with the great leaders of the Bible. It is a book that many have found comfort in who have ever experienced this sort of treatment. Anyone who is going through this, I feel badly for you. But know that you may be there to help others who are going through this with you. Jim Lange www.jim-lange.blogspot.com

mrsgarbers
mrsgarbers

I was assigned a new supervisor after about 18 months. She was a new hire and had to get a great deal of background info from me. I am not one to do the cat-fight BS and so I was cooperative and helpful. Being that I was the only other female on the team it was hard not to see her flirtatious nature with the other members. (Was worse after the boob job) They were all wrapped around her finger. Of course I wasn't as easily impressed and received daily badgering and unsolicited comments as to my personal life. My favorite line of hers was "I don't have to know how to do what you do, I just have to make sure you do it." I guess I just didn't subscribe to her theory. With a letter of recognition and 2 stellar annual reviews, I was relieved of my position with no reason (none needed in VA). I sent her a thank you note....LOL!

sysadmn62
sysadmn62

Happily, it was not my boss, but rather my wife's. At a large ($3B sales) supplier to the automotive industry, this woman was a VP. My wife was a well-paid engineer, and this woman made at least three times what she did. Her job was transferred to headquarters, about 4 hours from the division hq where her staff (and my wife) worked. The VP elected a DIY move, which meant the company gave her a (generous) lump sum to move rather than paying actual expenses. The VP had her employees sign out a truck from the company's test pool and move her stuff. She was notorious for asking co-ops and interns for "favors" like that. She visited frequently, but when she wanted her mother to visit her, she'd call meetings at headquarters and have the staff bring her mother with them. At a time when laptops cost way more than desktops, she needed two. When one broke, the IT staff found her husband was running his accounting business on it. She treated her employees like dirt, but no one would go on the record at HR since the company's first response would be to shoot the messenger. She did get a comeuppance. Her boss, the company president, had a nasty divorce. During the trial it came out that she had loaned him her vacation condo for a tryst several times. The Board fired her (um, accepted her resignation "to pursue other opportunities"). Her workers spilled their guts to the corporate auditors, who asked, "Why didn't you report this to HR?". They replied "We did, unofficially. When off-the-record complaints didn't change anything, we didn't trust you to protect us..." Heads rolled in HR and Legal!

joconnor
joconnor

I would just tell him, hit me with a chair and it's off to court we go.

rmsenzig
rmsenzig

My manager shouted and accused me of stealing $22,000 of server memory within earshot of my entire department at work. When the accusation proved to be false, she refused to apologize, her boss the department manager also refused to apologize. Human Resources eventually gave me a watered down written apology stating that the company regretted my misinterpretation of a management vs employee communication, (no mention of any theft allegation). Then, the company proceeded to claim that my job performance was suddenly no longer meeting expectations. Fast forward to three months later and I was given three months pay to leave the company voluntarily. I certainly did not break any company rules. No law firm specializing in employment law would help me because they said they will not risk their law firm's reputation against a fortune 500 company unless they are certain they can win. They said it's a "She-said, He-said" situation. What kind of a job reference do you think my former employer is giving me?

jmgreig
jmgreig

This happened over 20 years ago -- my first performance appraisal from the Blonde from Hell. (This may be blondist, but it is not sexist -- I am a woman too.) I was a copywriter/marketing collateral project manager. "You took 15 months to produce the X brochure," said the B from H, describing a complex, glossy brochure. "I joined the company on Jan 2 and they were using that brochure at the Hanover Fair on March 15," I said. "That's 10 weeks, which is two weeks short of our published production time for that level of promotional piece WITHOUT extra time for delivery overseas." "Yes, but J." [my predecessor] "worked on it for a year before you joined the company," she said. "What does that have to do with me?" I asked. "He failed repeatedly to produce something the customer was satisfied with. I started from scratch, delivered a product in record time, and the customer was happy. You have the testimonials to prove it." She refused to change anything in the appraisal and was really surprised when I refused to sign it. Now and then, however, such people do get their come-uppance. I went to HR to complain officially and ask that the appraisal not become part of my record. I was told to bide my time and not to worry. Two weeks later she was fired for gross incompetence and personal use of company resources.

jashe_god_sno
jashe_god_sno

As an E-2 in the USAF, I naively assumed that every boss I had would know more about my job than I did and be able to train and mentor me into a shinning career. Little did I know that my stay in the Air Force was out of my hands and into the plots of a Nazi (figuratively speaking). I started my first assignment right in the middle of the upgrade between WinNT and 2K. Needless to say my hands got dirty right off the bat and I learned a lot very quickly. After numerous classes my boss refused to go to and months of re-search and dry Air Force regulation memorization, my leadership above this E-6 cut out the middle man and started coming directly to me with their issues. This pretty much boiled the man?s blood. So much that he went to extreme lengths to get rid of me. For instance lying and having things added to my permanent records without my knowledge. One morning I came into work and found my commander (using the lies from this E-6) had drawn up a letter to hold back my next promotion for a further six months. It stated that I had been late to work and gave specific dates. I replied to this letter with a report from our network administrators stating the times that I logged onto my computer on these dates. Thinking that this report would clear my name, I stood at attention in front of my commander and endured. But, when I handed him my proof, the dates from my report did not match the dates on the letter because my boss had changed them. This happened consecutively three times, holding my rank back for a further year and labeling me as a screw up. Being such a new guy in the beginning, I had no idea how to fight this sort of thing any further than my commander. So, I concentrated on my job and tried to ignore my boss. After seeing these sort of things happening to a lot of my peers I realized the Air Force was not the place for me. Too many people trying to run over each other. My boss ultimately retired and after he left the letters stopped and all my leadership could do (so they say) is apologies or not taking my word for it. But then again my tour was really more about what I could do to help than about making money or having a shinny uniform.

Der Tommissar
Der Tommissar

I had two of these, I'll start off with the nicer one. I was a contractor (once) and assigned to a guy who had a department's worth of servers that needed to be maintained. I was the sole admin. We'd have a very pleasant conversation each week, where he'd list the tasks he'd considered important and requiring immediate attention. I'd go over them with him, and point out some items I'd consider very important, and where the would fit into the schedule. He'd listen and we'd hash out a list. Then I'd give him an estimate of the time required, "Ok, we've got sixteen things here, I can most likely get twelve of them done this week. I'll try to get the last four, but I'm betting they'll have to wait until the next Monday or Tuesday". "OK, Tommissar. You're the one who has the technical know-how. Let me know how it is going, and we'll review next Monday." Then I'd go off on my merry way, armed with a to-do list. I'd work through it while dealing with any day-to-day problems or glitches that would come up. Then I'd see him the next Monday. "Ok, you had sixteen items, and I had estimated that we'd get twelve complete this week. Well, I managed to get fourteen done, and it looks like the other two will take maybe an hour this morning. Here's what I think we need to look at this week; what do you think?" Then he'd say, "This is excellent! I only figured you'd be able to get done seven or eight of those projects in a week. Lunch is on me!" Then we'd go through the week's projected workload. Each week he'd come up with some heavy load, I'd add a few things that I saw as more critical and recommended delaying some others by a week or so. Then he'd agree to a list that I'd inform him would probably take six or seven work days. Next week, everything would be done except for one or at most two minor projects. He'd be thrilled and take me to lunch, or invite me to the house for dinner, or snag baseball tickets for me or whatnot. Four months later, I go to my contracting company for a review. Silently, I get handed a folder. Each week a neat memo was written and sent off: Date [Project X not completed by time specified]. The times that I had suggested some work be pushed back so that other more important projects be done first? The ones he agreed on? [REFUSED TO WORK ON PROJECT Y.] Then he finished with a paragraph in which he recommended I be terminated. They did. That evening, he called me on my cell phone. "I can't believe you won't be back! What am I going to do without your hard work? If you need a reference, please don't hesitate to put me down." The other guy was worse. My wife and I were expecting our first child about two months into a new job. I told the boss before I was hired that we were going to have a baby, and that I'd want to take 3 or 4 days off at that time so I could help my wife get back on her feet. He was fine with it. So my wife's in labor, I tell my boss and go to the hospital. After my son is born I turn on my cell to call relatives. I have fifteen voice mails from my boss asking why I'm not in the office. Then there's one that's about ten minutes old about a server being down. I call him back. "I didn't know you meant you were going to be at the hospital the whole time when the baby was born. I thought you'd just make sure she got checked in and come to work. I mean, it's not like they can do anything when they're that small. They just sleep and cry. They don't get interesting until they're 4 or 5." So I bite my tongue and ask about the server that's down, and why couldn't any of the other guys on staff look at it. "You're the new guy, so you have to do some stuff the other guys don't want to do. That means you come in after hours." I bite my tongue again, and drive cross town at 7pm to the server room. Someone was doing some remodelling in the room. They unplugged the server, plugged in an electric drill, then plugged the server back in when they were done drilling. The CPU's and the Raid Controller fried. I called the vendor. Since it was a Friday night, the vendor informed me that our support contract stated we'd get the replacement parts the next business day. I called my boss to tell him that the machine was broken and that we'd get replacement parts on Monday morning. Anyone on staff could then replace those parts during the day and hopefully there would be no data loss or corruption. His response was, "I think it is highly unprofessional that you would leave a system down." I bit my tongue again. "Ok, I'll postpone my leave long enough to fix the system Monday. I'll see you then." Then he started yelling, "You incompetent SOB. You will not leave that office until the machine is fixed." "Waitasec. We have no spare parts. The parts are coming Monday. Do you want me to sit in this building until Monday morning?" "YES!" *click* So I camped out at the building. He called security every four hours that weekend to see if I was in the office. My wife is calling me in tears about not doing anything until the health insurance pays for the delivery bills. Monday rolls around, the parts come and I fix the server. The boss tells me to tell the "developers" who use that system that they can start working. I go to them and apologize for the system being down but that they can start working again. And then it got good. "What system? That one? We haven't used that in five months. We asked your boss to have it decommissioned weeks ago." I typed up my letter of resignation and handed it in. He said, "What? Is this about your brat that you and your b*tch had this weekend? This is pathetic. You don't have what it takes to be in IT (never knew that in the four years I had been in IT before this job). So I said, "Gee, I can't imagine why your wife wanted a divorce, and why you get no visitation rights." Then he offered to come around the desk and wipe the smirk off my face. I calmly informed him, "Sir, there is no bigger gift you could give me than to take the first swing." He got very pale and called security to escort me out. When the guard took outside the office he told me that all the calls this guy made asking if I was still in the office had been logged over the weekend. The notes section listed some of the language he had used in referring to me, my wife, and our newborn boy. The guard went down on one knee and said, "Look, I'm going to tie my shoe, and you can go back in the office to get your pencil that you dropped. I'll come back into the office fifteen seconds later to find you defending yourself from his vicious and unprovoked assault." I have to tell you, I have never gotten a more tempting offer by any HR person in my IT career.

DMambo
DMambo

After 3 years working in my current job for a decent boss, the company was sold. The existing general manager lost his job, but that's what happens when the new boys come in. The new GM arrived. He was an old company man and knew the business, so we welcomed him with open minds. This guy had gone through a couple of plant closures, but assured us that it was different in this case. We were bought because we had a profitable line. As a matter of fact, our closest competitor was also bought by the same company, and that plant was destined for closure and the work was going to be moved here. Things were looking good. The new guy started off great. During our first meeting, he handed out shirts for everyone and said that he was going to empower everyone, blah, blah, blah. He sounded like he really wanted to move the management into the modern world. To make a long story short, it turned out that during the previous 2 plant closures that this guy had been through, part of his activities had been to extort upwards of $500,000 by contracting with bogus organizations, buying equipment and selling it, and "hiring" non-existent employees. Since he had been here about 3 months when this all came to light, the parent company had a choice about deciding whether to keep our location open or our former competitor's location. Everyone here was stained by suspicion of having involvement in his schemes. The fortunate thing is that the former competitor was never nearly as profitable as we were and after some investigation, the parent determined that the employees here were clean. It's a good thing that the GM wasn't here long enough to pull anyone into his web. To me, the moral is that things aren't always as they appear. That, and crime does pay, because (rumor has it) the guy got fired, but not prosecuted and later found another job.

bjlmorgan
bjlmorgan

I worked for 3 years for the CFO of an insurance company. The b*tch was completely impossible to please. All my life I've gotten fantastic reviews, been told I can do the work of three people, have a great attitude, am friendly and easy to talk to, etc. This nut job saw me as some sort of threaten even though an IT geek is never going to make it to CFO. She would tell me that I could do more work than anyone she'd ever met in a shorter amount of time and do it well but "I just don't like you." She made it her mission in life to give me more work than I could do. By the time she had lost 4 employees in my group and given me all their work plus piling on every new project she could find, I was ready for a nervous breakdown. When my third review came out badly, I went to the other two people to whom I was indirectly responsible and asked them to review me and they said they had given their reviews to the b*tch to include with hers. Theirs were glowing, but the only one getting through to HR was the horrible one. When she found out I'd done this she fired me on the spot. Since it was an at-will employment state I had no recourse. I had no trouble finding another job because I used the other two supervisors as references as well as the employer prior to this one who absolutely loved me and wanted to take me with him when he was promoted to a position in New York (I really didn't want to live there so I didn't go with him). One day I was picking up a buddy at the b*tch's office for lunch and went inside, something I rarely did. As I'm walking down the hall the b*tch is cleaning out her office. One of my friends told me the company had been bought and the first thing the new owner did was to summarily dismiss her. So I stopped in the door and said "What goes around comes around, doesn't it?" with a big smile on my face and walked away. I do have to say she's a tie for worst boss with the nut job I had on my first job who kept touchnig me inappropriately and propositioning me. I left 3 fake fingernails hanging out of his face one day and called his wife to tell her where the scratchs came from and he STILL kept doing it. I reported him to the owner and he still kept at it. He showed up banging on my apartment door at 2 a.m. drunk out of his mind and I called the cops. Needless to say, I quit the next day.

zaphod
zaphod

I have put up with a lot of things on the job. I have been threatened by a co-worker and by someone under me, but never assaulted. I would not put up with that. I would make it my mission to have that CEO fired, arrested or both. I saw a report on 60-minutes (many years ago) that when an employee had died at his desk, the boss just closed the door and would not let anyone call 911 until the end of the day because he did not want the office distracted from its work. My worst boss was a man who had been good at his technical job, but got prompted into management and never should have been. He micromanaged to the point of slowing work down. One time our mass storage system went down. Since it was a system that our customer considered critical, this manager went to the two people who worked on the system and spend 45 minutes asking them how they would determine what the problem was and how they would fix the problem. He asked about each possibility. When he finally let them get to work on the problem, it only took then 5 minutes to actually fix the problem. So because he could not trust his workers to do the job they had been doing for years, the outage on a critical system was extended by 45 minutes. This manager would get angry and verbally tear into employees and threaten to fire them without even understanding what was going on. I got that treatment once when I explained in a daily status meeting about a problem that I fixed that could have caused important software on the super-computers to be unavailable had the problem not been fixed. This manager misunderstood and thought that the software WAS unavailable. From that point on, there was not explaining it to him, I just had to ride out the storm and let him cool down the rest of the day before going back to him and explaining that I was reporting that a problem was avoided. He just said, "Well that's good." He never said he was sorry, and he never learned anything from it. We lost about more than a dozen good employees because of this manager. I left because of him, and when I was later asked to come back, I told them I would not return as long as he was there, even if I was going to be under a different manager. Finally he left and I was willing to return. That manager has been gone 9 years and he is still talked about at the worst manager that has ever been there.

sevenof9fl
sevenof9fl

Been in the workforce for over 35 years and there's nothing about this behavior that I haven't seen before, and even recently. Does that justify it? No. Is that the "worst boss ever?" No, I've seen worse.

pkrdk
pkrdk

I once worked at a company in Europe as IT manager for nine years. We worked a lot with value-based management, common values and that kind of thing. It was extremely fascinating, and in the end moved the company a lot forward in terms of employee effectiveness, fewer mistakes and misunderstandings. As a benefit our parties became much better, as we all got to know each other and each others limits very well. A real fairy-tale. One day I came back from summer holidays, and my boss (the CEO) called me for a meeting, he wanted to know IT plans for the next six months, staff deployment and budget. Fair enough, it would cover the rest of the year, and we had 3 heavy projects due to group world-wide IT changes. I got the numbers and facts, and came to the meeting. I explained what was in the pipeline, man-hours needed, budget, measurable milestones, deadlines, compliance with other group projects in which I was also deeply involved. His reply was "You must be f...cking mad, are you absolutely nuts!". "You must be crazy thinking that we can use so much time on this, cut it to about 25%, stop any Group based work, and if Group IT call you, don't talk to them and send the call to me". A little difficult, as I was responsible for a large group project, and HQ actually paid more thanh half my salary. I was rather chocked, we had been on very close personal terms for many years, and his gestures, speak and mimics were very different from what I was used to - a completely different person. Anyway I went back and looked at the numbers again, and they were as they should be, nothing could be changed. Two hour later I was called to his office again, and we had a nice leisurely talk about my vacation, and some business matters, and he ahd actually arranged coffee. Back to normal I thought. We had another meeting about IT status, and it started normally. Suddenly in the middle of a sentence I was interrupted, and I again got the gorrilla treatment. Now he wanted a complete weekly report, sating to the minute what IT was using it's time on. We had a very cost-effective IT dept, extremely high uptimes, and had never been hit by virus, dataloss or other mishaps for nine years. Then started a long period when he developed a peculiar interest in the tiniest details. He came one day complaining that the cables were "not lined up correctly" in the server room - they were, there was dust behind the servers, we didn't have the correct number of printer cartridges, and one day he barged into a meeting I had complaining why a plastic cover in a cable duct was on the floor, and not in place. It was because we had electricians in the hous, which he knew. Another day he complained that our tables were not lined up decently, they were ? inch in the wrong place. At that time I was fed up, and asked if we were decorators or IT staff, and that he had to decide. It sprung off a three hour lecture in loyalty, which I always have. It continued like that for 2 months, and then it got worse. I was called to long droning monologues in the night, often 2-3 minutes before leaving, which apart from the psycological side was bad, as I was living as a single parent with my then 6-year old daughter. It was like beng with a zombie, low voice, strange intonations, meaningless speak, more like a searching in his inner self, jumping from one idea to the other and absolutely no thread. At one time I as bvery dplomatic if he had discussed these things with other persons, he was clearly a sick man needing help, at the reaction didn't inspire to another try. His tempers were unstable to be polite, you could read his face an see when was it Dr. Jeckyll and when was it Mr. Hyde, it could change forth and back in a second. After one of these 'lessons in self critisism' which now took place at least twice a week, a drove home and had a close encounter with a truck, and one mile later hit a parked car. I simply couldn't think or act properly. I decided not to go to work next day, for the first time in nine years. Instead I went to hospital emergency service, and told them that I nearly got myself killed on the way home, and why. The doctor took my blood pressure with on of those fully automatic things, looked at the readings and complained a little about 'modern equipment'. He did the measureing again with the old-fashioned quicksilver apparatus - three times - looked at me and said "I don't know your line of work, but whatever it is you don't go to work tomorrow, instead we keep you here for the night. You have a blodpressure 250/150 and you have put yourself in a position where your chance of a cardial arrest is more than 50 times higher than normal." Next day I called my work, and reported sick. 10 minutes later my boss called that I had to get to work immediately, and that we had to talk things over, as I evidently had stress. I said no thanks doctors orders, pointing out the stress was related to the past month's talks, and that he had to accept that for the first time in nine years I was sick. After consulta?ng my own doctor I was sent on sick leave for at least a month, maybe more. I called work again, telling that I wouldn't be back for the next month, but as I had a home-office I could help from home if things got really bad. 15 minutes later my user-id was blocked. During the next month my blood pressure rapidly decreased, I started to gain weight, and a month later I was down to 135/90 without medication, which is rather good for a 55 year old person in a busy trade. One wednesday my doctor said, "OK - but take care of yourself." I called work thursday, and told them the I would be back monday. Friday my boss called me and said I shouldn't come monday, and that they would contact me. When I got home the mail had arrived, and left a note that there was a recommended letter for me at the post office which I could get monday as the local office was closed for today and weekend. I smelled fishy affairs, and called the main post office, saying that whatever it took I needed that letter now. After some discussion with the postmaster I finally got it, opened it and found a letter stating that they expected me back monday - signed by the very person who had called me on the phone and told me to stay off. I went home and wrote an e-mail copied to group HR, explaining that I couldn't make out the different messages I got, but that I naturally would show up monday as a had promised. Monday came, and I went to work. Everybody was very pleased, I got a welcome back present, coffee (they even had bought non-caffeine!), and I waited a little nervously for my boss to arrive. He came in, and in the sales office in front of the entire sales staff I was welcomed with the words "What the fu.. are you doing here". Politely I told him that I was coming back from sickness, at which he retorted red in the face "You leave this instant". I asked if I was fired or what, and he said no, you go on paid holiday and come back tomorrow. He instructed the staff not to talk to me not even privately, and that they should keep away from me. I got fired up by this and told him that he didn't control free speech or who people should meet or not. Inside the company he could do what he pleased controlled by law, and outside the company he was just like anybody else. So I came back the day after and got fired - nine years, lifting company IT to a very advanced level giving u s the lowest administrative costs in the entire group of 190 companies world-wide, and doing a lot of good work on group it. Due to the long employment I was entitled to 7 months normal salary plus a taxfree bonus of one months salary plus keeping company car and other benefits. If I had NOT shown up that monday as instructed by the phonecall impossible to prove but as instructed in the recommeded letter, I would have forfeited all this due to AWOL. Two days later my petrol creditcard was blocked, my phone stopped working and the ADSL line stopped too. A week later somebody removed the license plates on my car which I reported to poIice as a theft and told the company. 2 days later the were inmy mailbox. I took it to my trade union who made a very polite call the my boss, and was faced with a lawsuit, which the company lost flatly. The projects? Oh they were finished in time, onbudget and on schedule and the systems are still in use and working. I got another job. Later another employee got the same treatment,and I have accidentalyy met two former employees at trade shows who told the same story. He is untouchable, as he (the staff) creates very good yearly results. What DO you do when your boss gets a psychologic illness? To the rest of staff his is Mr. Nice Guy.

mabingle
mabingle

I had a female boss that was the extreme micro-manager. She once told me she worked from home for a few years and would make sure she "went to the bathroom" before starting to work so she didn't do personal things on company time. Once she chewed me out for 2 solid hours after I did what her boss asked me to do while she was on vacation. He wanted it done immediately and he was the boss so.... Well, I got blasted pretty good that day and finally said to her "Do what you have to do!" She then looks at me like she's startled and says "But, I'm happy you took the job and that you're here". That was when I started to look for another position. These are just 2 of the many many instances. She's actually hated within the ranks and in other departments. even the CIO has made comments about her, but they keep her. My last day there was one of the happiest in my life.

markr1980
markr1980

Tossing a heavy article of furniture at someone could possibly legally be considered Assault, possibly felony assault. Threatening to do it in the future could turn a fine into prison time. Was this meeting recorded on video? A word of wisdom: You have no idea how many hidden cameras with sound recording companies use these days simply to protect themselves from liability issues, and your security department gets paid to snoop and listen at keyholes. If you have Security Guards, it is a VERY GOOD PRACTISE to get on their good side(Wink Wink, nudge nudge!).

TownsendA
TownsendA

Unfortunately bastards are seen as the people who get things done. I have worked with men who were Rhodes Scholars who were just like this example. Two brothers one of whom became Deputy Chairman to this second largest mining group in the world were known to have fisticuffs at Board meetings. Thankfully like walking the plank these people are becoming obsolete. They are power hungry, megalomaniacs. They cannot accept the treatment they hand out either - sure sign of a bully. Fear is their stick and they don't spare the rod. They should go back to dominating the tribe and maybe get what they deserve - to be kicked out when a tougher one comes along.

mabingle
mabingle

Reviews are meaningless when they want to get you. It isn't what you did yesterday that counts, it's what your manager thinks of you today. You would think that HR would ask the question "Why is she all of a sudden not right for this position?", but they don't. The only fear that your manager will ever have are those above her. I hope you found another position quickly.

TheComputerator
TheComputerator

I've had some doozies including one who was probably certifiable, another who gave me a bad review because I didn't each lunch with the group and one who had an international reputation for being difficult. But nothing that comes close to most of your descriptions. Interviewing for a job I was ask the usual how do you handle difficult people? I explained about how I "managed" my previous boss but without naming names (though international in scope, in community itself was a little inbred). Eventually the interviewer asked if I knew D? Yes, that's the boss I was telling your about, I replied. You worked for D!! If you can work for D, you can work for anybody!! My guys are only half as bad as D!! I swear she was shrieking in her amazement. Not only was it very embarrassing, I knew that D's wife was just a few doors down the hall in an open door environment. It was a long interview with a tour and from time to time she'd just stop and repeat with amazement that if I worked for D, I could work for anybody. The job was to provide support for 6 scientists "who were only half as bad as D!" but I figured that still made 3 D's and declined. Catherine

mabingle
mabingle

HR is useless. Dilbert is right. I never go to HR because they will ALWAYS side with management. There are some very power crazy and arrogant people out there who call themselve managers but fear everyone under them because they stink at their jobs and they know it. Thier biggest fear is THEIR boss. So, they are usually big A-kissers too. Rule of thumb: If you ever get into a major battle with your boss and his/her boss gets involved then it's time to look for another job. And, going to HR is usually a trip to the unemployment line. Actually, I call them inhuman resourses. Sorry, but that's the way those SOBs run things.

TechTitan
TechTitan

I had a similar experience in the Army on a similar migration path. We were moving from Windows 3.11 for WG and NT mix to a more NT-ish setup around the time of Y2K. I was assigned to the battalion S-6 (Automations and IT) department as part of an accreditation team that would make sure secret and top secret computers and notebooks were up to snuff. I was just a lowly E-3 at the time, reporting to a full-bird colonel and his civilian counterpart. My immediate supervisor in my chain of command was an E-6, and he reported to the company commander- a jerk-wad captain. Both resented that I had more presence in our ops meetings than they did and they resented that I only popped in the office for morning roll call and PT. Long story short- I had to fight a slew of article 15 recommendations for deriliction of duty, none of which stuck because I was working for that full-bird colonel. Subsequently I too was "overlooked" for promotion. Shortly after this, the E-6 got deployed to Saudi Arabia and never came back (went on successive tours to Korea and back to Saudi). I then had the personal priveledge of making a routine inspection of the commander's PC and subsequently had him busted for porn. He took the easy way out and retired early. Needless to say, when I got out I had copies of orders naming me the "battalion systems security officer" (several grades above my rank) which looked awesome on my resume. I went back to school, got a BSCE, got a little experience and am now an IT Director for a manufacturing SMB. The experience was stressful (at the time) but the long term reward and the PAYBACK... was.... priceless.........

ccrobinson
ccrobinson

Wow. You're a better man than I am, Tommissar.

Ron_007
Ron_007

Der T. You've got me beat by a mile, but here goes anyway... I came to IT from an industry where I was paid a flat daily rate, no matter how many hours I worked 8 or 20 ... In my first IT job we had a great 6 person team, worked like clock work. Part of the expectation was that we always did change implementations on Sunday. No impact to users, and time to back out if needed (backout plan was always required and documented). 6 months in my immediate supervisor says I have to come in for the upcoming implementation. No problem, I expected it as part of the job. But I asked a silly question, "how do I submit my overtime?" We were a union shop, got double time for overtime, so it was potentially a significant amount of money. The response was "... uh what overtime, we don't ever claim overtime. 'Corporate culture' is that we come in and eat the time ..." My response was along the line of "sorry Charlie, the contract says OT, I get OT (I have no problem doing the time, I just want the money)". We went back and forth a couple of times until she said, OK I'll check with the boss. Imagine her surprise when he said "OT, no problem, just submit form XYZ". For years he knew that the team was coming in to work weekends, but never claiming OT or time off. It was a benefit to his budget he never recognized. That is the setup for the worse part of the story. Here is the second part of the setup. Our Senior Analyst was promoted out of the group. Any one of 3 Analysts could have taken her place, but none wanted to hurt the other's feelings. This went on for a year, they shared out the work and everything went on smoothly. Finally the boss hired a replacement from outside of our group. This guy was doing an equivalent job in another area but knew nothing about our specific application (20-30 million lines of code) or computing environment (very non-standard, not IBM or Unix). So he would take one of the three to meetings with him, they would do all of his work, but he was the "boss". The story ... we had some common change tasks that normally would take 3 months of effort to complete. But the client had a 'absolute' need to get done faster. One of our analysts was a work-a-holic. She said she could do it if she did all the work herself without interference from anyone. She worked from 8am to 10pm (or later), 7 days a week for 3 weeks, and got the job done. She did not submit any requests for overtime, but the SA knew the hours she was working. After the implementation she told him she'd be taking some time off to recover. Monday was no problem, but first thing Tuesday morning she got a call from him wanting to know if she wanted to book the time off as vacation or sick time!? Needless to say, after that she always booked every hour of overtime.

fiona.louise.m
fiona.louise.m

My partner's boss will continually abuse his staff with every 4 letter word you can think of. It is so bad that grown men have cried. I have seen a good friend throw up when he knew he was going to have to be trained by this person. Unfortunately - the industry that this person is in means that he isn't going anywhere and if my partner and work mates want to keep their job they need to put up with it. Its extremely frustrating for me to watch - but part of me thinks "Thank goodness hes not my boss!"

kirenl
kirenl

I once worked for a company where my time was divided between 3 different managers, two of whom had the worst leadership skills I'd ever seen. I was a woman working at a company that was deemed 'male territory'- the power transmission field; gears, sprockets, engineering chain, etc. One had a fit when something he wanted 'now' wasn't done on time due to priority. He picked up a pair of scissors and drove them point down into the glass on his desktop, cracking it. Then he threw the scissors AT me- they chipped the wall next to my shoulder and clattered to the floor. After working there for five years and perhaps taking 5-6 sick days, I came down with the flu- a bad case. On the second day I called in, I was told I must have a Dr's excuse or report to work immediately. I protested that there was nothing a Dr. could do for me- with the flu you 'manage the symptoms'. I was so angry after over 4 years of being what I felt was an employee who had earned her trust, I reported to work with a 102 degree fever and was sent home less than an hour later. The final blow- I had made a suggestion regarding workflow after a new network was installed that had many problems. I was told "we do NOT deviate from corporate policy"... 2-3 weeks later, a guy made the same suggestion and received a $2,500 bonus for the best process improvement tip. I turned in my 2-week notice, and for the first time ever left my job without having another lined up. Within a month, I had moved to San Diego, and 2 weeks later landed another job with a $15,000 raise, and had a fantastic working experience for the next 6 years. I learned a lot from that other company about boundries and what I was willing to live with in a work environment. Hope I never forget!

mlayton
mlayton

After some very bizarre requests that ended with "I don't care if it's illegal, just do it my way" and things like that, I left. (One task was to manually reorder names in a database so they appeared alphabetically - it did not matter the instant you added a new name, they were unalphabetical again). A month after I left, she was in a psychiatric hospital.

hawkeye
hawkeye

I feel for you. I have a few psychiatric diseases and, from experience, your boss is "Bi-Polar." There is nothing you can do to improve him, it is up to his superiors to force him to get a psychiatric evaluation and then he must follow all reasonable doctor's orders, which may include medication, continuing therapy and possibly inpatient treatment. He is a very dangerous man right now. It is too bad you were his first victim, unfortunately, somebody was going to suffer from this disease. In the States, we are just beginning to address the importance of mental health, but we are nowhere near what it should be. It sounds to me that your country is well behind the times. Your story is awful because you were the person closest to him, working relationship-wise. I am glad you did receive your severance as that will keep you for a while. When you interview for a new job and they are serious about you as a candidate you must have at least two meetings, one in-depth with your proposed supervisor, and more importantly, one with some of the staff, those who will be managing. Through their experience with your proposed boss, you will find out all the dirty little secrets about his management style. If they caution you, move on, and quickly. Do not expose yourself again to such a person, for your health, if nothing else. Finally, I wish you all the best, you sound like a good person to me. Doug

m.k.forbes
m.k.forbes

I once worked for a woman who made it her practice to announce her arrival every morning on the intercom as she entered the building. From the moment she opened her mouth, you could feel the entire attitude of all the employees drop from being happy to being afraid and fearful. Her philosophy of management was to make life/work hell. There was not one person who worked under her that liked her, or could tolerate her bitchiness. She was a true representation of a F-ing Bitch.

rmarkle
rmarkle

I worked for one of the major automobile review web sites as a UNIX admin, and I had a similar experience to this. The boss off my department was actually a developer, which, had I known before I took the job, would have set off major alarms. IMHO the goals of Developers and Admins are pretty much opposite. Programmers want the latest and greatest, admins want to make sure they don't get woke up at 3am to fix a broken site. Needless to say the variance of views was quickly apparent. They site was always unstable, since my boss would capriciously "re-architect" the site 2-3 times a week. I mentioned in a meeting once that this was the source of our stability problem. I was asked if I wanted to "bet my job" on it. Since honest discourse was out, so was I. Needless to say, I quit, and her and her entire staff was fired a few months later.

JohnnySacks
JohnnySacks

3:30 PM on the day before Christmas break, the CEO calls sales and engineering of our division into the conference room. We were all feeling good that afternoon but we all knew things were bad, the entire market was bad at that time and we figured it was going to be a pep talk/rally about things to do next year. With a beet red face, he proceeded to lambaste us up one side and down the other blaming the division problems on our pitiful performance and to look around because half of us wouldn't be here in July if things didn't improve. ... Complete silence and awe, finally my manager (R&D) pipes in and calmly indicates some of the problems might be attributed to decisions made by the board of directors. The guy goes ballistic again on my boss for every miniscule issue he could dredge up. I left that day in a daze and managed to have a nice holiday in spite of daydreaming the guy had a heart attack and died face down in his plate at his family christmas dinner. Very happy day when I left that place.

mariereno1
mariereno1

I recently ran a company that specialized in throwing parties to large corporations and others who wanted to have the "five star" treatment. This was a mansion owned by a very famous pianist and the corporate umbrella stemmed from the Southeast and specialied in insurance. Needless to say the President of the company was extremely good at belittling any and all. For months and later years it was 20 hour days sometimes 6 and 7 days a week. Thank god my immediate family consisted of only me. Well to make a long story short, I got bit by a pretty nasty spider if you will, brown reclouse went to the doctor and thought all was fine until about 8 months later when I again went to the doctor and they wanted to amputate at the knee. Well I spent a week in the hospital and returned back to work immediately that following monday, pic line in arm and giving myself IV's 4 times a day. I had worked all week long and on that Friday my so called "great" not boss notified me that even though I had done a great job in past my services were no longer needed. No explanation, no severence no notta. In addition, my car which was given to me as "Job Well Done" and was part of my pay package was taken back. I have to hope that karma will take control one day and in the meantime, I'm even more happy where I'm now employed. In fact, I had absolutely no idea how much I was being taken advange of until after leaving the company. I'm a firm believer that you must experience the bad to appreciate the good.

j_most
j_most

is funny, but sounds right on point! :)

fanchant
fanchant

HR is there to PROTECT THE COMPANY FROM THE EMPLOYEES. Don't EVER think anything different, and NEVER expect HR to side with you. Get a lawyer.

rmsenzig
rmsenzig

It would be unwise for me to say more than they are one of Microsoft's large IT hardware partners. They gave similar treatment to co-workers in the work group before the company off-shored and outsourced the project. When that didn't work out for company, the project was returned to the states and they tried to rehire the people they forced out. Three times since, I've been contacted and offered higher pay to return to my old job and the answer has been resounding "NO". I still don't have an apology.

jashe_god_sno
jashe_god_sno

You know?..reaching out and touching those thought to be un-touchable has got to be the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced. Never step on the little guy, especially if he has admin rights and knows how to read temporary internet files. (Maybe a new Military IT creed??) Its great to know that someone out there knows what I?m talkin about.

pmaez13
pmaez13

I would have considered this ASSAULT and claimed self defense after I took the scissors out of the air and threw them back. The beat the living shit out of him.

j_most
j_most

Throwing scissors at you? Oh my gosh, I think at that time I would have lost my mind. I just couldn't even imagine

upuaut
upuaut

At my first salaried job, I excelled by the testimony of all people I worked with. My manager was a lazy, and didn't car about what I was doing. It became clear I made an positive impact on the people I worked with . My manager didn't like this and gave me a bad review, hence no raise. I decided right then to become a contractor/consultant. I've enjoyed every single day of it away from politics and egos. If a position becomes too sticky, I leave to the next endeavor.

rmsenzig
rmsenzig

At one company I worked for, my boss gave me a negative review right after I was hired for doing a great job as a temp. He said it came down from senior management and HR that all the employees were to be given negative reviews so that the company wouldn't have to give out any pay raises. My manager said that I did a great job, but that he was not allowed to say so on my review. (This company had a problem with everybody's salary and would argue emphatically that all the employees should accept lower pay or else feel guilty for being paid market rate. This company also demanded that the production goals double every two months without adding any new employees). When the stock went public, the executive staff and board of directors cheated the employees out of their promised discounted company stock shares by buying up all of the stock and leaving none for the employees.

mabingle
mabingle

At one company I worked for I was told to give one of my people a bad review because we needed a certain percentage of good and bad (a rule from HR). So, even though all my people were very solid, I had to give a bad review to a woman that was terrific, but that my boss didn't like. I refused to do it and my boss told me that it was my job. I told my boss to give me the write up and I'll type it in the review app. My boss (ex boss) is a very creative liar. Leaving that company was a breath of fresh air.

doogal123
doogal123

Stay clear - remember who pays them.

Inkling
Inkling

Tommissar, you just made my day!

pkrdk
pkrdk

Why should YOU go because your BOSS throws things at you. It is assault, and if you have witnesses report him/her to the police. Just the same as if a kid is mobbed at school. You move your kid, and the mobber stays. Why take action on the victim, and not on the culprit? It won't solve the problem. After I left, my boss found another victim after 2 months. After the problems I had, it was VERY difficult to answer the question you always get at job interwievs: "Why did you quit your last job?"

JamesRL
JamesRL

For your own self respect you have to have some limits in life. If someone threw something at me, and failed to provide a grovelling apology after they cooled down, I would be out of there. I would, for the benefit of anyone else still working there, also probably press charges. I know that my staff know, that if they ever threw something, there would be no debate. Any person I've worked with who has even threatened violence has been fired so fast your head would spin, and thats the way it should be. My other dealbreaker is not getting paid. If they mess up my pay because they are running out of money, I won't stay. I have exercised that twice, both times early in my career. James

j_most
j_most

I just don't even know what to say to that either. Throwing things is just too much. I remember how my mom would react if I threw a toy down when I was a kid, so I just can't understand all of this. Thank goodness you or no one else was hurt!

sevenof9fl
sevenof9fl

Spent too many years as a paralegal and what finally made me leave the field was when I saw a Sr.Partner throw a heavy paperweight at an associate because the judge ordered a delay of a motion hearing due to a death in his immediate family. He was mad because she didn't get his approval to NOT enter a motion opposing the delay (as if THAT would have made a difference NOT) He didn't hit her but it happened in a hallway where there were other people's offices and cubicles and even the fact that it didn't hit anyone didn't stop me from quitting.

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