Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bad bosses

I got a great question from a reader.  I think this is my very favorite question ever.

Describe your worst boss.

Wow.  That's a good one.  Because I have had some winners.

In high school, I worked for a small business in my hometown. The owner used to drink in his office.  And I don't mean a swig or two out of a flask.  I mean fall-down, stoned, in-a-coma/stupor drunk.  I am not sure how he got home from work.  Shortly after I left employment, the business closed.

Another was a woman who was supposed to be working but instead read Harlequin Romance novels.  She had a brown, hand-made cover that she kept over the books so no one would know what she was reading.  She told me that they were religious books.  One time, I took a peek and discovered the truth.

I had another who had changed his name (at least once that I know of).  He wasn't very ethical. I don't like people who are unethical.  If people are unethical with the little things, they will be unethical with the big things.  For a number of reasons, I dodged a big, fat bullet.

The worst boss (and really he was a VP/owner) was a man who didn't think women should be in leadership positions.  I overheard a conversation (in a public place) that he was having with another person and his comment was, "this territory is too important to have a woman in charge."


This question came from a reader who is job hunting.  Her question was, "how do you pick a good one?"  I imagine that to mean how do you pick a good boss?  If you need the job, love the work, and are excited for the offer, how much weight do you give to the working relationship with the boss?

For me, a ton.  How about you?


Karen said...

That VP/owner... hmmmm. Bet he regrets that decision to this day.

Holly said...

The importance of a good boss became crystal clear to me earlier this year when for the first time really, I had a good boss. You will move mountains and walk through fire for someone who you respect, who you know has your back and who you trust. If the situation is such that you need the money then you have to do what you have to do. If you have some leeway, who you work for is key to your happiness. I firmly believe that. How do you pick a good one? I think you need to know yourself and what's important to you. For example, organization is important to me. When I go for an interview I look at what the interviewer brings with them. Is a disorganized pile of papers or is it a neat folio. It's a little thing but from my experience I know that I get very frustrated with someone who loses everything I give them, doesn't read my email, etc. I'm generalizing that someone with pile of papers will display those behaviors but you have to go with your gut.

Deirdre Honner said...

@Karen, I sure hope so. :)

@Holly, I get it - I want someone who is at least as capable as I am, hopefully more.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Gary said...

Not my boss, but when I worked for the phone co., the maintenance foreman had an answering machine with an announcement to leave a message and he would get back to the caller as soon as possible. Well, every time he got back to the office, he would just delete every message, without ever listening to a single one! This included his employees and customers! :\

Desiree Porcaro said...

Funny post! I think everyone has had at least one horrible boss! I’ve had my fair share as well. I’m lucky enough to have moved to the same situation that Holly described earlier this year. I’m amazed at the level of engagement, motivation, and commitment that a good boss can inspire! But "how do you pick a good one?” that’s a difficult question. For me (the interviewee), if you can make me feel comfortable and valued during the interview alone, (and we’ve never met previously) that’s a pretty good starting point. Once you’re in the actual position, that’s when you can take real stock of the type of person that you are working for.