Recently on Askamanager.org, Alison Green posted about her week-long series about Terrible Bosses. If you missed this, click on the link and you can read all about the boss who lied about salary, the boss who yells and threatens, and also the boss who texts photos of strippers to co-workers. If reading these makes you curious about other awful bosses, you can do a search on Askamanager.org for “terrible boss” and see a number of different posts and questions posed to Alison’s site.
As entertaining as reading these posts can be, if you are a manager or boss, it’s probably a good idea to also visit this post: 8 signs you’re a bad boss. Many managers might think they’re doing a great job, but without feedback from someone higher up, colleagues or even from their staff, it can be easy to develop a blind spot about problematic behavior. It’s also important to note that the impact of a bad boss can have repercussions for people long past that particular job. Green does explore this topic in a quick piece she recorded for the BBC, but if you visit that post, take some time to read the comments. Many people wrote that they find that even years after leaving a job with a terrible boss, they still have reactions to certain phrases or questions. One person wrote, “After close to a decade of working precarious temp jobs with capricious and occasionally abusive bosses, I am completely paranoid that the slightest mistake is going to cost me my job, even though I know realistically that this is the kind of place that would sit down with me and discuss any performance issues rather than unceremoniously canning me. I’ve been here going on three years and that fear just doesn’t go away.”
Clearly, working for a terrible manager or boss can cause a ripple effect that is not only immediate, but which lingers even when someone changes jobs. So, if a boss starts to suspect that “something” is wrong with their workplace . . . and that the “something” might be them . . . what can they do? Green’s post does have some feedback. We also have several books in our collection that can help:
Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best-- and Learn From the Worst by Robert I. Sutton
Becoming A Better Boss: Why Good Management Is So Difficult by Julian M. Birkinshaw (which takes things from the employee’s perspective)
If you are someone who has a terrible boss, the Library also has suggestions of materials:
Working for You Isn't Working for Me: The Ultimate Guide to Managing your Boss by Crowley, Katherine
Managing your Boss in A Week by Sandi Mann