I’ve had quite a few bosses in my career. The majority I disliked (to use a nice word). The majority! Can you stand it? That means out of the maybe 20 to 25 bosses I’ve had I only liked about three. Now, I will be the first one to admit, I’m tough to get along with sometimes. I’m opinionated and extremely honest. I’ve found bad bosses hate that in their subordinates more than anything else. Sometimes I felt that being a woman didn’t help me with certain bosses, and in other situations it was the dreaded Peter Principle. That’s when people get to positions of power but are really inept.
Now, the bosses I loved, I really loved. In fact, I’m still in contact with the handful of bosses I respected, learned from, and had an overall incredible experience working for. My old editor from UPI is one of the smartest and savviest editors I ever worked for. And she was a tough cookie. If you screwed up there was no touchy feely, “please eve do better” bullshit. She’d tell me I screwed up and not to do it again. I liked her because she was upfront and honest. That goes a long way; especially coming from someone you think knows what they’re talking about.
So, this brings me to a survey I’m involved in as the Your Career columnist for MSNBC.com. MSNBC and Elle magazine have joined forced to do this survey on work and power, and the main thrust of it is bosses and our interactions and perceptions of these head honchos. If you get a moment please take the survey. I plan on writing a story based on the results and I’ll also include lots of the information in my blog so you can all see what life is like for us working stiffs when it comes to the boss-employee dynamic.
And please, please, share your bad boss stories here.
I was working for an editor who was extremely afraid of his boss, and his boss’ boss. That meant he never wanted to look bad no matter what. One time he blamed me for an error he made.
I had written that an auto plant was based in IRVING, Texas. At least that’s what I thought. But when my story came out in the paper the next day, it said IRVINE, Texas. The top editors at the paper were sticklers for accuracy and freaked out that the mistake was on the front page. My editor emailed me to write a long explanation for the error so he could share it with the higher ups, and he stressed how the mistake made me look bad to everyone concerned.
I was really bummed out, and perplexed how I could have made the mistake. I had never written anything about Irvine, and had written about this particular auto plant based in Irving many times before.
Since my editor was from California, where Irvine is, I started to suspect he might have put the error into my story.
I asked my editor if the error could have been made in the editing process and he insisted he had gone through all the electronic versions of the story and that it was my mistake. He was also pretty angry that I would question his assertion. The way our computer system worked, once I sent my story electronically to my editor I had no copy in the computer system.
Luckily I had saved a hard copy of the story to review and sure enough my version was correct.
I called my editor to inform him of this. He said, “I see”, and hung up.
He never mentioned it again. Needless to say, our relationship deteriorated from there.