My momentary three hour descent into Really bad boss hell
I broke a couple of my own Really bad boss rules yesterday. Those of you who visit regularly may have noticed that for about three hours, when you stopped by, you were greeted with an angry looking message about a fatal error. I fatally wounded my own site by trying to do something waaaay above my pay grade. Really bad boss rule #36 – If you don’t know what you’re doing…don’t do it. It’s very closely related to Really bad boss rule #57 – If you don’t know what you’re doing, find someone who does. I did neither. Instead, in a moment of blogging bravado, I attempted to do something I had no idea how to, and then, unwilling to admit defeat, wasted valuable time trying to put a band-aid on a wound that required a tourniquet.
After my momentary lapse into really bad boss hell (and some weeping), I got a hold of myself, started thinking like a really good boss and called the husband of a friend. An expert on these things, he remotely took control of my laptop, asked me a bunch of questions I was incapable of answering (reinforcing the fact that I had no business trying to do what I had been trying to do in the first place) and got to work undoing the damage I’d done.
While he was doing what he does best, I got to thinking about the difference between how really bad bosses and really good bosses behave. Over the next few days, I’m going to talk about five of those differences. Today, I’ll talk about something really bad bosses never do.
Really bad bosses never, ever admit when they’ve made a mistake - Even when faced with indisputable evidence that they’ve messed up royally, a really bad boss will go to his or her grave before admitting to making a mistake. It’s one of the worst and most common mistakes really bad bosses make. Why? Many bosses feel as though admitting to a mistake reduces their credibility and thereby their ability to manage effectively. In fact, the opposite is often the case. A boss’ ability to admit to a mistake says to his or her employees, I’m not perfect, I know I’m not perfect, and now I’m going to show you how someone who’s really in control handles a crisis.
Pretending you’re infallible, even as everyone around you sees the problem, says “I’m unstable and probably shouldn’t be trusted to lead.” I once had a boss who made a serious error in calculating some figures. When confronted with her mistake, rather than admit to it, she tried to explain how she’d used a different method for calculating her figures. Not different information or data, a different method for adding and subtracting. Ridiculous, but true. Other than arithmetic, I was, and still am unaware of any other method for adding and subtracting numbers. We never looked at her quite the same way again, referring to her as the manager who rather than admitting a mistake, created her own private system of mathematics. Read the rest of this entry »