A Tale of a “Bad” Boss

Ever have one of the “those” bosses? Hate to go to work? See how you used to work, change (not for the better)?  How about when you are talking with others and you hear them complain about their work situation? There usually is one common theme – they work for a terrible boss. I have my internal blog and write many of the same topics I do here. When I write about management, I usually get quite a few comments that center on the bad supervisor. I would like to relate this to a story. For anyone that thinks they know the players because they know me – think again. This is a made up situation (but, I have a feeling this will probably hits close to home).

Company Z is a small company made up of about 200 folks. Enough to have some senior, mid level and front line folks. Got to have some bosses… Debbie is a new employee to Company Z, she is a project manager with a pretty impressive resume. She comes with experience and a passion for her work. Debbie starts out fast and really does good work. Her immediate supervisor, Brenda, finds that she does really well and starts to give her more of the meaty assignments. Over time, Debbie has proven that she is definitely a strong performer. What happen next? She gets promoted! This promotion moves her to a different team and now she reports to Bob, VP of product development.

Bob has been with Company Z since it started. He was in that first wave of friends that sat around the bar stools during college discussing an idea. He is best friends with the CEO. That friendship is his biggest claim to fame! Bob still tells the stories of that evening when Company Z was drawn on napkins over many beers. He definitely views himself as a visionary. Dreams up plenty of ideas and delivers on none. Many of Bob’s employees are very happy to see a new manager on his staff, as the last one was just a nightmare to work for. Debbie starts out well, she is working with her team and overall things are better.

As time goes by, Bob and his visionary style has an effect on Debbie. Bob likes to drum up the idea’s and dump them onto Debbie. There are no expectations, no reasonable understand of goals and just plain minimal thought put in. Bob’s way of dealing with not seeing enough progress is to belittle Debbie. He is short with Debbie and spends more time yelling and belittling at her. Debbie feeling the pressure starts to pass on same to her team. She is expecting them to pick up the pieces she is dropping. The team has seen this behavior before. This goes on for a couple of years, until Bob decides that he wants to leave.

A new VP is hired and Debbie decides to ask that she go back to project management where she has done a good job for the company. This management gig was just not her passion. Everyone thought that would be a great move. Debbie was extremely successful as a project manager. Problem was Debbie has not returned to the past. Her time with Bob, had changed Debbie – forever. Debbie thought she would be happier, but that just is not the case and decides to leave the company.

I think we all have seen some scenario similar to this one. Fact is, a bad boss can damage your spirit, career and passion. Everyday we all look into the mirror – do you like what you see? No, I don’t mean the visual aspects – just the work part… Are you true to yourself? Are you happy with your job? Are you doing your best? Are you Bob? Are you the early Debbie that is turning into the promoted Debbie?

  • Sounds real – not made up. I have observed this type of thing many times. Here’s how it often goes:

    (1) Organization objectives are not living up to hopes.
    (2) It can’t be the bosses fault.
    (3) There can’t be anything wrong with business processes or support structures.
    (4) Time to belittle employees.

    My advice for managers – always set your employees up for success. My advice for employees – never tolerate belittling and constructively point out the real sources of problems.

  • @Al – good sound advice!