The Horrible Boss
I’ve hit the employees a little hard in the last couple of posts, so I thought I would take attention away from them today. Afterall, employees aren’t exclusively responsible for the horrible conditions of their work environment and not all office-loathing is one-sided. Often times, horrible bosses will create the poisonous environments they work in.
It’s easy to characterize bosses into neat little quirks, after all, that’s how we’re represented in most films and comics (e.g. The Office, Office Space, Horrible Bosses, In Good Company). But, truthfully, we bosses are a complex character, just like you, the employee.
We’re not sitting here getting off on all our power (POWER!!) nor do we remotely enjoy writing you up or chastising you for a mistake (maybe a little, depends on who you are), we’re actually constantly concerned with the balancing act that is management.
So, before you write off every boss as being the “enemy,” let’s take a look at the four things I think separate the Horrible Bosses from the Great.
If this person has never been your boss, then you have at least heard of them. This is the boss who belittles you publicly and trashes your work. This is the boss that addresses his/her team as “children” rather than “team” when making group announcements. This is that boss who looks at your work and asks you if you’re “stupid or something.”
That is a bully. If you’re a boss and you are reading this, take note immediately of how much your employees despise you. In my opinion, this person is, by far, the worst kind of boss. No one respects the Bully, they only fear them, and that is NOT a productive work environment. The Bully is power hungry and the only way to bend them is to challenge them. Bullies respect bullies and they will always rise to a challenge. They were very likely “winners” in high school, so they hang on to that Letterman Jacket mentality. Stand up to them on the quad and they’re likely to respect you back.
Remember, “Praise in public, criticize in private.” This is the mantra that every Bully should learn.
We have seen this person. They’re idiots. They don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t understand their job or the responsibilities of the people beneath them. They have never worked in any of the positions that they’re managing.
This person is an imbecile. An idiot. A moron. An untrained monkey with half the brain.
How did they get this job, you wonder? They’re very likely to have been closely related to the owner of the company you work for, possibly a wife (or ex-wife), sister-in-law, brother-in-law, useless nephew, maybe?
Whoever they are, they got here and they are your boss. There isn’t much that you can do about it, but you can help make them stronger.
This person will appear lost most of the time, indecisive, so help them along. It’s possible that they’re afraid of asking for help, too, so don’t let them make bad decisions that will make you look bad. Push the imbecile in whatever direction you think is the best. Guide them to your bidding. They are, afterall, the imbecile.
The opposite of a Bully is a Weakling. This is an under-confident push-around that the higher ups put in place just so they had someone easy to control. They never stand up for their self, they never argue, they proverbially take it in the ass day-in and day-out, but never complain.
This passive-aggressive ingrate is incapable of making decisions on their own and requires constant guidance from both their supervisors and their employees. Incapable of disciplining their staff, their office tends to be a zoo, run by anarchistic employees who are confident that no amount of bad behavior will result in a negative reaction. These are the Miltons and George McFlys of our corporate world and they need to be weeded out or retrained.
This is easily the most controversial Boss on this list. Personally, I think the Friend is a Horrible Boss. Why? Why wouldn’t we want our best friend as our boss? Why wouldn’t we want to work for someone who we can have drinks with after work? Someone who invites us to BBQs and fun at the lake?
I’ll tell you why.
It’s because Friendships don’t stay at the door. You can’t wear your Boss hat and Friend hat at the same time. There will come a time when someone needs a verbal warning, write up or worse, to be FIRED, and a Friend will struggle with their approach in these situations. A Friend will see this employee as their golf partner or hunting buddy, not as a well-managed member of their staff who occasionally needs disciplinary action. A Friend in any office can gradually become the Weakling when his/her fellow friendoyees stop taking him/her seriously in the work place. Ultimately, the respect of your employees isn’t earned through friendship -- it’s earned through kindness, appreciation and a commanding knowledge of your responsibilities as a manager.