Life has got a bit too serious for my liking lately so for a distraction I thought I would watch a movie on tele. A quick flick of channels gave me a choice either Transformers or Horrible Bosses, I opted for the latter because 1) I’ve had them and 2) I’ve been one and 3) it was on first.
The movie was nothing special; funny sometimes awful sometimes and it was nice to see Jennifer Aniston doing something different from her usual rom com fare. What the movie did leave me thinking about was the idea of a boss and what some interpret that to mean. In my opinion a half decent boss should be someone who – amongst other things – is able to leave their ego at the door, be a team player with just the right amount of empathy, someone who inspires and someone who knows what they are doing (or at least fakes it well). I think you are very fortunate if you have ventured through your working life with only this type of boss. For me, it’s been a mixed bag; some inspiring, some so-so and some who would definitely come under the banner of ‘Horrible Boss.’
I’ve had the Inadequate Boss who was my manager at the same time I was going through my ‘must impress’ phase which meant I became the office drudge while my boss took all the credit. I’ve had the Inappropriate Boss who would call me ‘missy’ (which I detest to this day), make sexist and racist jokes and fail to look me in my eyes when he spoke to me (his gaze always went further south if you get my drift). Then there was the Superiority Complex Boss who did not appreciate having to sit with us plebs as he felt his job title meant he belonged in a corner office. Nor did he partake in any kind of team bonding exercise. Drinks after work – forget it.
But my favourite and by favourite I mean worst Horrible Boss was the Psycho Boss – this person could have been a character straight out of the movie. Before I go on, first a visual, think Phil Mitchell; balding, thuggish, proper cockney accent – this guy had it all. Now a few of his psychotic antics:
Horrible deed number one – tried to turn my staff against me; under the guise of one on ones he would basically grill my team about me. One of the guys in my team actually said ‘you better watch your back, he’s out to get you.’ When pushed for more info I was told that he was asked if he ‘liked me as a manager’ and when the answer was for the affirmative he was asked again then he was asked the same question in different ways, in the end the team member feeling ambushed said ‘it feels like you are trying to put words in my mouth and I’m not going to lie for you’.
Horrible deed number two – deliberate sabotage; in a rare moment of ‘acting like a normal person’ my boss forwarded some emails to me on a new initiative the business wanted in place. He asked that I get up to speed before a presentation that was to take place the following day. So I did, I read through all the relevant information he had sent me, made some notes and then when the time came I went along to the presentation with him. While we were walking to the presentation we discussed the project and the impact to my team. All seemed quite standard. Imagine my surprise then when the presentation turned out to be about something totally different, something I had no knowledge of but he clearly did judging by the comments he made. Imagine then when I asked a question to the project lead – my own boss sabotaging me by pronouncing to the room ‘it’s in the information pack I sent you.’
Horrible deed number three – the pièce de résistance; when unable to find fault in my work to… well I never actually knew his motivation because at one point I did ask if his plan was to get rid of me but his smarmy reply didn’t confirm anything… so whether it was to get rid of me or put me in my place, he filed a disciplinary through HR due to the fact that I did not celebrate my birthday with my team. The letter stated that ‘it showed a lack of team spirit therefore was in direct conflict with one of the principles the company stood for.’ And yes I’m serious this happened for real I still have the HR letter to prove it. Even with my overactive imagination I could not make this stuff up. In my defense I have never worked on my birthday AND I did take my team out for lunch before I went away for my birthday AND the only reason I didn’t want to partake in cake was because I didn’t want this person to have anything to do with my birthday.
Nothing came from the disciplinary other than HR having to actually do some work for a change. My time with the Psycho Boss was a very short one, but it did have a toll, he seeped into my personal life via sleepless nights, paranoia and a bitterness which made me sarcastic. Looking back now I just think of him as a bully. The boy in school who was bullied or worse ignored who as an adult exacts revenge just because or maybe he was the bully who grew up and stayed a bully. I pity him as I do all my other horrible bosses, because their insecurities mean that they miss out on what should be an enriching experience. Now over to you, I know I’m not the only one who has experienced a Horrible Boss, I would love to hear your stories in comments.
Have a great week.