HR Strange But True!
September 07, 2006

We have greatly enjoyed reading (and writing about) your tales of the worst employees with whom you've had the displeasure to work. Now it's time to put the shoe back on the other foot -- it's time to share your tales of some of those awesomely bad bosses out there.

Sometimes blondes do have more fun. "The president of our company invited a select group to join him for lunch for Administrative Professionals Day. His lunch bunch that day were all female, and all blonde. The company's receptionist and his own executive assistant were not invited. Both are brunette."

Let's take it outside. "I had a female boss who used intimidation (both physical and emotional) to show her power over others. Once, when she was berating me for a mistake she made on a spreadsheet that was my responsibility, the intimidation escalated. As she was trying to transfer the mistake to me, I was trying to explain what had happened. Each time the conversation went back and forth, our voices raised an octave. When our voices became loud enough to hear outside the closed door, she jumped up and slammed her hands on her desk and said, 'If you want to take this outside, then let's go.' The statement was so absurd and inappropriate for the corporate environment and our professional situation that I just started laughing. The more I laughed, the madder she got. I simply said, as I left her office, 'I'm done ... I'm done.' I believe she realized she had stepped over the edge of appropriate behavior. Shortly after, she left the company for other 'opportunities.'"

And many more... "I was in our office kitchen area for a birthday celebration one afternoon when my boss came into the gathering and immediately plucked me out of the group. When we returned to our office area she asked me, 'Why are you taking time from work for such things?' I responded, 'Because it was my birthday they were celebrating.' Clueless!"

I've got your affidavit right here. "As a freshly minted college grad, I took an internship in a small town's wetlands department. Within a week of starting in this small office, my boss was out sick 4 of 5 days and I was mentored by another intern. The other intern was suddenly fired the next week. Soon after, employees in other departments started telling me that I'd be next, that my boss always stabs people in the back, and that there should be a revolving door on the office because there'd been so much turnover (16 people in two positions over the past year).

"I decided to find a different internship as soon as possible, and, fortunately, found one pretty quickly. When I went to work to give my resignation and 2-week notice, my boss was out sick (again). I gave my resignation to her boss, who asked if I was leaving because of my boss (I surmised she was attempting to 'make a case' for letting my boss go). I gave my best diplomatic answer, saying that I was looking for different opportunities and more mentoring.

When my boss returned to work later that week, she found me and demanded to know if I was leaving because of her. Believe it or not, she then pulled out an affidavit and asked me to sign, stating that I was not leaving my position because of her. She even had a witness there to watch me sign! I couldn't believe she actually thought I'd sign it! I was flabbergasted and couldn't wait to get out of the dysfunctional office. They were the longest 4 months I've ever spent on a job!"

Got Milk? "I had a male boss who wanted me to retrieve a carton of milk from the cafeteria every day for his morning cereal. Sometimes he would have two bowls so I'd have to run back again for another carton. My phones were extremely busy (the CEO didn't believe in voice mail) and none of the other secretaries wanted to cover for me. So I started keeping two cartons of milk in the refrigerator near my desk, and I made sure to rotate them. When he saw that I had a stash of milk, he blew a gasket, saying that the milk could spoil. He demanded that I get his milk from the cafeteria at all times."

And, finally,

Mr. Sensitivity. "I was working as an accountant/HR person in 1994 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The day of my surgery, my boss (the owner) and his wife showed up at the hospital late in the evening, while I was still drowsy from the surgery and with my husband sitting there beside me. My boss asked how I was doing, and I responded 'OK.' He said, 'Well, that can't be too bad -- it can't keep you from this' and he was mimicking typing on a keyboard. 'So you can probably come back in a few days.' My husband asked him to leave because I was tired (and I think it was better than punching him!).

"I took 8 days off and when I returned, he came in my office and asked how I was. When I told him still pretty sore and tired, he leaned back in the chair and said, 'Well, I don't have to worry about you going anywhere else. No one else will hire you now that you've had cancer. I can pretty much do what I want now.' I stared at him in disbelief! I went home that night, put together my résumé, and found a job within a few months. When I resigned, he held a meeting with the staff and told everyone I was leaving because my cancer had recurred and I probably wasn't going to make it another year!

"My co-workers and friends gave me a going away party, and the boss told me to visit him once in a while -- to stop by and see him. I looked at him and said, 'Well, since you have told everyone I'm dying, won't you have to stop by my grave to see me?' His face turned red and he left the party. I haven't bothered to look him up or talk to him since. You can sign me -- 'Still healthy and cancer free!'"

Have you had a bad boss? Tell us your story.

TGIF - It's HR
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