Say yes if you understand me

Editor’s Note: It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a submission with such detailed accounts of the antics of a megalomaniac boss. And then Jonathan sent me this. This post’s title is just one of many condescending comments she made to her employees – and below is just a small sample of some of the things she did. Thankfully, after just four months (which must have seemed more like four years to her employees) this non-manager was demoted.

This is an account of a rude, condescending, commanding manager, with the social skills of a child, and the leadership skills of someone raised in the wild. I don’t want to say I’m a better person than her, but being a bit older and being college educated while she is not definitely did not help my attitude towards her when she started casting out commands.

I began working a second job at a family owned t-shirt store in the city. With-in my first month the owners decided to open another smaller kiosk inside of the public market. I agreed to transfer over to the new shop and begin working under the newly promoted manager, who was being transferred from the shipping department at the warehouse.

Tensions were high amongst the owners, managers and employees the first couple days working in the kiosk. The stress of the deadline to open, arranging the product and deciding where things should go, how things should be presented, etc., had tempers boiling over. I met my new manager and after a friendly first hour of her telling me what her expectations and hopes for the store would be, she slowly began turning into a monster. She began to pick at the way I stood, the order in which I laid out product, the direction tags of shirts should be. Although I found this to be a bit picky, I didn’t see much harm in it, she just had a certain way she wanted things, and most of her abruptness I chalked up to being under stress from the owners to get things underway and start making sales and having a tidy professional-looking workplace. I knew this was her first time ever being in charge or being in any position of power so I let most things slide off my back when she would snip about something small.

After things had settled down with the store and we had gotten into the swing of things, she did not follow suit. In fact she got progressively worse.

Here are a list of dialogues and run-ins we had over the first six weeks:

  • I show up my first day on my own. Knowing she had been stressed, I parked at a meter just outside the building to make sure I was there early enough to help her set up. After an hour of arranging, I tell her that I now needed to go park my car in the lot, which was about 1/2 mile away.  She responds “You can’t do this when you start here by yourself you know. You’re lucky I’m here.”  To which I respond: “Yes I’m aware of that, I just wanted to help you because I know you’ve been stressing about this whole thing.”

Her reply: “Just so we’re clear, I was helping YOU…Do you understand?”

  • “Is that how I told you I wanted those arranged?” “You need to smile more even when there aren’t customers present. If you smile and talk to them more, they’ll give you more money, and that’s really all we care about.” “You need to face this direction, don’t ever turn your back, even if you need to get something behind you.” “Those glasses aren’t arranged right, make them look happier.” “What would you do if I wasn’t here to save you? (Because I asked how to open the new receipt machine)” “I thought I talked to you about this, I don’t want more than 50 singles in the drawer.


  • Her: “Do you have any questions before I leave?”  Me: “I don’t think so…..OH wait, yes, when we get the new shipment where should I display them?” Her: “Okay, when I ask you if you have any questions, that’s what I meant. You need to ask me right away. (Because I had to think about it)


  • Her: (barely audible noise facing away from me which I didn’t really hear and assumed she wasn’t talking to me) Her again: “HEY. I’M TALKING TO YOU. YOU NEED TO ANSWER ME AND NOT IGNORE ME WHEN I’M TALKING TO YOU. LOOK AT ME. ARE YOU JUST GOING TO IGNORE ME? IS THAT HOW IT’S GOING TO BE?”


  • “Say yes if you understand me.”

After 4 months she FINALLY got demoted from manager, in what was called “a huge mistake in judgement putting her in charge.” She then had the nerve to come in to work and tell everyone that she had actually “stepped down”, even though we were all aware of what actually happened.

Got your own personal megalomaniac boss? Share your story in the comment section, or email denised (@) reallybadboss (dot) com.

Absensce makes the heart grow fonder, and gets you fired

Editor’s Note: In a world ruled by bad bosses, what happens when your boss puts you in charge of training someone new to do something she never trained you to do in the first place – because she’s never there? Here’s a reader submitted story that provides the unfortunate answer…

After working for about a year for the company, I moved into a newly created position to handle a program designed by and fought for by my boss. This was “her baby”.

I was used to her rarely being in the office or available to answer questions since that’s how it had been for most of my first year, but I was really surprised that this behavior continued when the new program was launched.

It started with me having to train the person taking my old job, while trying to learn my new one. The boss hadn’t done any of the new employee stuff at all. The new girl had no computerand had do use mine until IT was able to get her one (about a week after she started).  I’d have to come in early and kick her off mine for a couple hours every day to get some of my own work done.

Part of the new job involved things that I had no training for at all. It was things my boss had done before and needed to teach me. But weeks would go by where she was either not in the office at all, or in but unavailable. The stack of work I couldn’t do without some training just kept growing. She promised, when I took the position, that we would meet every Friday morning to go over the stuff I didn’t know how to do. We met 3 time in 90 days (and most of the time she spent on her iphone). Showing up for our meetings was not a priority.

At 90 days, I received my 60 day evaluation (she wasn’t around enough to do it at 60 days). She had gotten her butt chewed because this wonderful program she pushed for was going off the rails (since she never bothered to train me). Instead of taking responsibility, she threw me under the bus to save her own job.

I was put on 30 probation and given 2 areas I had to reach certain standards for, or face termination. I developed my own resources for information and ended up exceeding the levels in the areas mentioned.

So at 45 days ( she ‘d been on vacation and couldn’t do the re-evaluation at 30 days), I was fired for something else altogether. It was actually not even a firing offense and certainly wasn’t either of the goals outlined in my probation paper. But I was out.

She got a promotion.

When I got permission from the reader to post this, I found out she’s in her mid 50′s. Now unemployed, no chance of getting unemployment insurance. Another victim of a really bad boss. Here’s hoping she finds something soon, working for competent people who appreciate the work she does. Better yet, maybe she’ll strike out on her own.

Submit your real-really bad boss stories to denised (@) reallybadboss (dot) com.

The Really Bad Boss Blog Roundup

really bad boss blog roundupWhat the blogosphere’s saying about bosses this week…

  • The worst bosses of 2011? Our friends at eBosswatch list 100 of the worst bosses of 2011 and include the sexual harassment hijinks of Mike Cordova of Applebees, Mr. 999 himself, Herman Cain, and former Penn State Assistant Coach and man-who-thinks-it’s-ok-to-shower-with-young-boys, Jerry Sandusky. I’m going to have so much fun going through this list and sharing all of the really bad boss dirt with you.
  • Over on, Stephanie Taylor Christensen shares five ways to spot a bad boss in an interview.
  • Who Moved  My Cheese, Good to Great, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, The Little Engine That Could. The Little Engine That Could? Yes, a retail company vice president gave the employees in his department a copy of The Little Engine That Could as a holiday gift. Meredith Levinson explains why that might not have been such a good idea.
  • Unfortunately, you already know this – a bad boss can follow you home. Not literally, although I’m sure that’s actually happened to someone. No, the stress and anxiety caused by a really bad boss filters into your home life. Neil Wagner explains in the Atlantic.

Have a story, news idea or blog you’d like featured in The Really Bad Boss Blog Roundup? Email it to denised (@) reallybadboss (dot) com.

Would you share a hotel room with your boss? Me neither…

I’ve had to share a hotel room with a colleague before. Besides the fact that she snored like an ox, the idea of sharing personal spaces as intimate as bedrooms and bathrooms with a work colleague is just …disturbing.  But, the budget was tight and I got along pretty well with my colleague.  But what if you had to share a hotel room with your boss? Who walked around in her thong underwear. And carried on conversations with you. While she was on the toilet.  That’s what happened to this woman as reported on the USA Travel website. Some excerpts of what Beth the boss inflicted on her employee:

First of all, Beth requires the woman to share a hotel room with her.

In hotel rooms, the employee writes, Beth “will leave the bathroom door open while using the toilet and yelling comments to me (not even my husband does this).”

Beth also walks around the room in her thong and tries to discuss her dating and sex life with the woman while the woman attempts to hide under her covers and fall asleep.

Beth is such a control freak over travel expenses that when she orders room service breakfast, she orders a single entree and pot of coffee and expects the employee to share the food.

The advice columnist who received this letter about Beth suggests that the employee find another job. Ya think? Would you ever share a hotel room with your boss?




Neither rain nor sleet…

Snow DayWhile four inches of snow is child’s play for northerners, the southeast, unaccustomed to more than a mere dusting, is paralyzed as a result of a winter storm that crept in overnight.

Despite dire news warnings about hazardous driving conditions, I wonder how many non-essential (anyone who isn’t a doctor, nurse, cop, fire etc.) employees felt obligated to get to work today, not because the world would end if they didn’t show up, but because of an overly demanding boss or the fear of job loss.

I’ve been there more times than I’d like to count. One particularly challenging winter in the northeast with a blizzard threatening, employees congregated around water coolers wondering who would be bold enough to make the first move. Driving home in blizzard conditions is frightening and all of us wanted to beat the storm home. The bosses, who presumably would have to drive home in the same conditions, never budged, and at 5:00pm we ventured out into madness. Thank God all of us made it home alive but not everyone is always that fortunate.

A friend shared a story of a colleague who, fearful of driving to work in hazardous conditions, called her boss to tell her she wouldn’t be able to make it in.  Her boss gave her an ultimatum – report to work or you’re fired. My friends colleague took the warning seriously and unfortunately lost her life driving to work that morning. Read the rest of this entry »

Open casting call for real life “The Office

I got an interesting email the other day from a casting company in Southern California. They’re working on a real-life version of the wildly popular “The Office.” The fictional U.S. version of The Office documents the shenanigans of bad boss with a good heart Michael Scott and his team of sidekicks. Here, for example, is Diversity Day at The Office

Diversity Day at Dundler Mifflin

The Casting Firm is asking the question, “Would your real life office antics be entertaining to watch?”

CASTING FOR A NEW DOCU-SERIES: A Major Cable Network is seeking midsize offices full of big personalities that can carry a show. Would your office antics be entertaining to watch?

Is there anything coming up in your workplace that would be exciting to watch unfold? Moving offices, restructuring, new owners, new human resource policies, etc?

Are your coworkers the best….or the worst? Do you all get along or are office politics out of control? Is your boss amazing? Incompetent? The real life Michael Scott? We are looking for every kind of story, whether you have the dream job or work in a disaster zone! Tell us about the cast of characters in your workplace, and why you would all make great Television!

Casting for the first season is taking place in Southern California ONLY. So if your office has 10 employees or more and all are legal residents of the U.S., The Casting Firm wants to hear from you.  If you’re interested send your name, contact details, the name of your company, along with photos of you and your coworkers to Make sure you include a contact number so someone from their staff can contact you. For more information visit The Casting Firm’s Office Intervention link here.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: Really Bad Boss is not affiliated with The Casting Firm.

Another bad boss empire expands

Bad Boss Empire ExpandsI recently found out that one the worst bosses I ever had (the one who asked me if I was disobeying a direct order although neither one of us was in the military – she’s also the one with the ridiculous ponytail weave) has, over the past couple of years, been promoted several times. Despite reading and writing every week about bad bosses who not only succeed but thrive, I still had a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this woman had now attained something tantamount to director status. To quote Doctor Phil, “It chaps my hide.”

But then I remember a couple of things. One, she works for the government. Until I did my stint with agencies in both the federal and state government, I thought people gave the government and government employees an unfair shake. Now after logging over five years inside government bureaucracies I understand what all the hostility is about. But I’ve also got the unique advantage of understanding it from both sides.

You know that miserable DMV worker who barks out instructions at you from behind her cage? Or the customer service rep who keeps giving you the run-around when you call for answers? Well in some cases they’ve been beaten up so much by management that they no longer care. Granted, some of them are just mean-spirited, incompetent people (like the one years ago who smiled when she told me I had exhausted my unemployment benefits.)  But many were like me, well educated, smart, laid off from corporate America, looking for work and, despite embarrassingly low salaries, determined to make a go of it.

When I took my first job with the government I signed on for, and was prepared for lower pay, longer hours and a higher level of bureaucracy than in the private sector. I was not prepared for nor had I signed on for micromanagement, pantyhose inspections, or military type treatment. My “superiors,” who had less business experience and less formal education than I had, were petty and arrogant. They had attained their status simply by outlasting everyone else. Tenure is king in the public sector. And if your goal is power and a fat pension upon retirement, then your best bet is to make life hell for anyone you perceive as a threat. If you’re also insecure in your abilities (because you’re keenly aware you have none) constantly reminding people that you’re the boss serves as a boon to the ego.

So when I hear that my former bad boss has been promoted it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, and it’s not because I want what she has. It’s because I know that she got where she is by stepping on the backs and dreams of people probably much more competent and qualified than she’ll ever be.

And so, another bad boss empire expands…

Got any bad boss success stores that chap your hide? Share your stories in the comment section.

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