b Self-Helpless: True Tales of a Working Girl: When Bad Bosses Emulate Their Bad Boss Heroes and Mentors



When Bad Bosses Emulate Their Bad Boss Heroes and Mentors

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, it is suggested that managers look to their past bosses in order to avoid making their mistakes. (The article is titled “Recall the Mistakes of Your Past Bosses So You Can Do Better” from 1/3/07).

That’s all fine and good, but what can employees do when their bat-$#@%-crazy managers actually choose to emulate their current and/or past supervisors? This article suggests that managers actually want to be “good” managers. Or perhaps they believe that sabotaging their team, setting employees up to fail, stealing – or hiding – the great ideas that employees come up with, is “good” managing.

Let’s look at this for a minute. So what does it mean when:

- Bosses hand off work that looked like a 5-year old did it? Are they trying to recapture the lost innocence of their youth along with their immaturity? I once had a superior hand off work like this for me to decipher. It was atrocious. The boss they’re emulating: Their 5-year old child.

- They pick up smoking to have “meetings” with their current manager? I get it; this is a ploy most people learn in school… high school. All those “cool” kids will one day have cancer. Bravo.

- The boss makes threats of physical violence if the work isn’t complete and on their desk in 3 seconds? Maybe their boss hero was Attila the Hun. I’m sure that one works really well… especially when the lawsuits hit.

- The boss incessantly corrects and rewrites every email you send out – even though you’ve been doing the job since the year of the flood? Then again, maybe this makes sense if they’re a former English-teacher-turned-corporate-tool.

- Antisocial behaviors emerge that make the boss try to blend in with the wall rather than say "hi" to anyone? Maybe their mentor was a hermit or a germaphobe.

Once again, these great ideas sound good in theory… but suppose these “bad” bosses are already taking notes from the ones that came before them or their old mentors? And maybe they’ve been doing it for so long they no longer have any clue which is “right”? I mean, that would have to be the case because who would possibly do these things and actually think that they were a “good” boss?

Way to go, Gail. You've covered just about everything connected to a "bad boss" experience. My evil boss actually told me how she had to leave the IRS because of her evil boss, and then proceeded to behave exactly like her! Even though we worked for a privately held company, I think she still thought she was with the IRS. It was crazy - rather - I was going crazy. The day I left, I felt younger and lighter and haven't looked back since. By way of warning - Denise Sullivan is her name.
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