The Really Bad Boss Blog Roundup

What the blogreally bad boss blog rounduposphere’s saying about bosses this week…

  • Bad bosses take note. Over on her Career Matters blog, Mary Salvino sheds some light on what good hiring managers and corporate cultures strive for.
  • What makes your bad boss act like a jerk at work?  Probably the same thing that makes him/her act like a jerk everywhere else.
  • One in three workers think their boss is an idiot. The other two work for themselves. Just kidding…ish. In case you have any doubts, The Incompetent Manger offers some telltale signs you’re working for an idiot.

Coping with a bad boss when leaving isn’t an option

For the second time in my career, I found myself in the unenviable position of having to deal with a really bad boss at a time in the economy when finding a new job seemed like a long shot.  For most of us, no matter how bad the boss is, looking for a new job when unemployment rates are at record highs is not a wise move.  You’re competing with the newly laid off and new graduates, and you never know if, God forbid, you’ll be trading in a really bad boss for a really, really bad one.

I stayed with my really bad boss for a couple of years. But in the end, after a lot of hard work and smart job hunting, I did eventually leave the boss I now refer to as the Troll.  Along the way I collected my share of hard knocks. There were days when things were so bad that at the end of the day I’d collapse in tears, too mentally and physically drained to even eat. And lets be clear – me not eating is like 90 degree weather in Alaska – its very rare and demands immediate investigation. My family and friends got me through the roughest times and when I realized I would have to stay in those jobs longer than I’d wanted to, I decided that if I had to stay, I’d learn as much as possible while I was there.

As my bosses piled assignment after assignment on me, in areas outside of my field of expertise, I scoured the Internet, signed up for online courses and learned whatever I needed to. I worked for an international company that offered free language classes online – so I took them. When I was tapped to develop training materials in an area in which I had little experience, I called friends and former colleagues who offered great advice and assistance.

As for my mental well being – I found that as I focused more on the invaluable experience I was gaining, and less on the Troll who was running the company, my days went by quicker and I began to enjoy my evenings and weekends again. In the end I was able to use everything I learned working for the Troll to secure my next position. During the interview when I was asked if I had experience doing  thing ‘A’, I was able to say, “Interestingly enough, while  thing ‘A’ wasn’t in my original job description, I stepped up to the plate, got the training I needed and have been performing ‘A’ successfully for the past year.” Being able to confidently say that during my interview was the cake…getting a job offer shortly after was the icing.

How are you coping with a really bad boss? Share your coping strategies with us in the comment section.

This article was originally posted on 4/09

One Monday morning at a time…

In my ongoing effort to help make Monday mornings a little more bearable, here’s a repost that should help you make it through the work week, one day at a time…

j0178564 Years ago when jobs were plentiful (ask you parents about it), if you had a really bad boss, you’d do one of two things. You’d hit the streets – literally – in search of a new job, or you’d bite your tongue, bide your time and wait for your pension.  These days when you hit the streets, the streets hit back and pensions have gone the way of the 8-track tape and Betamax (ask your parents about that too.)  So, for many of us, for now at least, we’re stuck with our really bad bosses a lot longer than we’d planned on. So, how do you deal with a really bad boss when leaving just isn’t an option?  The answer is, one day at a time.

My most stressed times dealing with bad bosses came in anticipation of the things I feared they would say and do.  After “disobeying a direct order” (my non-military bosses actual words,) I spent an entire weekend tossing and turning, worried that I would show up to work on Monday, only to be unceremoniously escorted out the door by our version of security (the HR manager off her meds).  But after spending my entire weekend worrying about Monday, on Monday my boss never even mentioned the incident.  In fact, she never brought it up again.

Then there was the time I totaled the company car.  Yes, I totaled the company car…during my second week on the job.  Giving my really bad boss at the time, a man who never required a legitimate reason to scream and curse, the legitimate reason to top all legitimate reasons.  As he screamed and cursed at me at length in his office, I tried to defend myself – citing the helium balloons in the back seat of the car I’d hit, the full moon, and the questionable chicken salad sandwich I’d had for lunch as possible causes of the accident. It was terrible – the sandwich and the meeting with my boss.  So terrible in fact, I thought my job and career were over.  They weren’t. I survived that boss’ verbal beat-down and every one that came after that for the two years I worked for him.

The point is, we typically can’t control the actions of our really bad bosses, but we can control ours.  No matter how bad our bosses are, we work for them, and work we must. We can either do that work in anxiety and fear, or we can choose to take the high road.  By taking the high road – the road less travelled – we live above the noise and the nonsense.  If we work at it, we’ll be able to see a lot more, learn a lot more and experience the phenomenal personal and professional growth not readily found elsewhere. It’s a cliché’ for a reason, but the best way to deal with any life challenge, even one of the really bad boss variety, is one day at a time.

How do you cope with your really bad boss? Tell us in the comment section. We’ll share all your tips in a future post.

The Really Bad Boss Blog Roundup

rbb blog roundup copy What the blogosphere’s saying about bosses this week…

When bosses from hell attack – Kenya McCullum compiled some bad boss from hell stories and shares them with us.

When the going gets tough, some bosses get tougher – Tony Deblauwe asks, why is bad boss behavior more prevalent? We think it’s because tough times reveals people’s true character. What do you think?

Easing work blues by learning to manage your boss – Anita Bruzzese suggests depersonalizing – that means no voodoo dolls or kidnapping plots.

How to survive working for a jerk – Anita Bruzzese offers more advice on surviving your jerk of a boss.

Managing an aggressive boss – How you respond to the aggression may help you hold on to your sanity.

Fool me once, shame on you…

Last week, I shared my tales of falling in love with jobs, only to have them turn on you. I call it the “Sweet Deceit.” And while I do take some of the blame for not asking enough of the right questions during the interview process, I certainly didn’t expect to be lied to during my interview. We’ve all heard the stories about people with fantastic credentials being busted years later.  They lie about the schools they graduated from, the grades they got, and the positions they’ve held. But what happens when the shoe is on the other foot? What happens when the job lies to you?

Six months out of college, and desperate to be working in my field, I took the first job that was offered to me.  Never mind it required me moving cross country within a matter of weeks and paid far less than I’d ever imagined I’d be working for.  I was just happy to have a job in my field.  During the interview, the owner of the small, family owned business promised me that within six months, if I’d proven myself as a fast learner and hard worker, I’d receive a pay increase.  By all accounts, including his, I’d done that and more within those first six months, but I got nothing from the owner. Not an “at a girl,” not a “good job,” and definitely not a pay increase.  It was at this job that I got one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten about bosses.  An older woman who’d worked at the company for years pulled me to the side one day and told me, “anyone who hires as impulsively as this guy does, behaves just as impulsively in every other area.”  In other words, as quickly as he hired me and promised me a pay increase (I was interviewed and hired on the same day) was as quickly as he could and would be likely to renege on his promise. Of course she was absolutely right. It was the first time I’d experienced a boss lying to me.  It wouldn’t be the last.

As I mentioned last week, the HR Manager at another job answered my questions about turnover rates by telling me that there were individuals still working with the company, even after 20 years.  Technically, she didn’t really lie to me.  She employed what a friend calls, “selective omission.” By focusing on the individuals with tenure, she kept the focus off of the rest of the staff who’d been part of an ongoing procession through the company’s revolving front door for years.  She also didn’t mention Read the rest of this entry »

How do you survive a really bad boss?

Overworked and frustratedEvery day I get emails or comments from people suffering under the burden of a really bad boss. I feel the frustration and powerlessness in their words and it breaks my heart. If you’ve never had a really bad boss, your tendency might be to downplay their concerns, but as someone who’s been in the exact same position as most of my readers, I know all too well what they’re feeling.

A reader from Australia commented yesterday about an employer who’s gaining a reputation as a company who mistreats its employees, and has the high turnover rate to prove it. She talked specifically about a director who took “great pleasure in bullying her employees.”  Reading her comment dredged up old feelings of anger and sadness I felt in the days when I worked for people just like that.  It’s a lonely, oppressive feeling.  You want desperately to get out, but the reality of needing your job outweighs everything else.

My really bad bosses have run the gamut from domineering men who were sexist, verbally abusive and just plain old offensive, to women, much like the one my reader alluded to, who ran their offices like a boarding house, bullying everyone just to make them feel better about themselves.  But regardless of the type of boss, or their gender, the resulting outcome was the same; an office of demoralized, demeaned individuals, desperate to get out.  And maybe the most disheartening part of having a really bad boss, is the eventual realization that neither Human Resources or upper management is coming to the rescue.

As a really bad boss “survivor”, I’d encourage those of you currently dealing with one to hang in there.  If your situation is anything like mine was, leaving right now might not be an option.  I’ve always said, you can’t always change the way people treat you, but you can change the way you react to them. The justifiable anger and frustration you’re feeling, is only eating you up. Trust me, your tool of a boss is sleeping like a baby and not spending one second of his self important life worrying about you.  The fact of the matter is, worrying about the worse case scenario never prevented it from happening.  But preparing for it can.

If you’re someone who’s gotten out from under a really bad boss, share your experiences and lessons learned in the comment section.  You never know how many people you might be helping. Read the rest of this entry »

Defending against a bad boss

A recent wikihow article outlines 20 steps to defending yourself against a bad boss.  A large part of their list deals with documenting everything.  We agree.  Getting everything in writing, from your job description and expectations, to changes in responsibilities, might not prevent bad boss behavior, but it could help protect you down the road. Step 17 suggests keeping your resume updated and beginning a job search.  There’s nothing worse than waiting out a bad boss only to get the boot before he does.  Take it from me, the shock alone could set your job search back for weeks. We’re also big fans of step 13 – not involving colleagues in an ongoing issue.  As loyal as your cubicle buddy has been, don’t be so sure he’d have your back if it came down to choosing between loyalty to you and keeping his job. In fact, assume he won’t.

Step 14 says not to ask Human Resources to intervene.  That suggestion is not going to make competent HR professionals very happy, but based on personal experience and feedback from our readers, we think the article makes a valid point when it says HR often supports management.  Mary was notorious for that. When she wasn’t too busy planning potlucks or buying gifts for male subordinates, she was climbing comfortably into upper management’s back pocket.  What are your thoughts on taking management issues to HR? Waste of time, or worth it?  Tell us in the comment section after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

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