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Monday, October 8, 2012

Real Life Horrible Bosses

Story first appeared on WSJ.com.

When real life employees have to deal with horrible bosses, it isn't something to laugh at like the hit movie "Horrible Bosses."

But unlike the film, where three disgruntled employees get the better of their nasty bosses, real life bosses often enjoy the last laugh, resulting in de-motivated employees and strained relationships at work.

Here is the information from four such employees about their most difficult boss.

Here are a few excerpts:

The Control Freak

Imagine being answerable in minute detail to your boss for every hour spent at work. Suffocating, right? That’s exactly how 31-year-old  former public relations manager in Mumbai, felt.

She says her boss demanded mandatory hourly updates on anything and everything. These included things like the number of press releases she had emailed and details of follow-up calls subsequently made.

The boss’s controlling demeanor was not just limited to work. Her boss imposed a ban on any non-work related phone calls at work, she says. She says she was once told tolearn to talk to her husband post 6 p.m.

Also, getting time off was tough. Once, the boss didn’t grant leave to a team member whose daughter underwent major surgery.

The six-member team grew increasingly frustrated with the boss’s controlling behavior, resulting in a fall in productivity and high employee absenteeism, she says. They complained to top management and the boss’s promotion was temporary stalled. The employee quit her job early this year after having worked with that boss for three years.

To be sure, quitting should be your last resort, say human resources experts. Here are some tips on dealing with a boss who’s a control freak.

The Bully

Three years ago, when a man joined a bank as a sales executive, his boss proudly introduced him as his “right-hand man” in a note to employees.

During his two-month stint as a sales executive, his boss bullied him into doing odd jobs: Depositing school fees for his eight-year-old daughter, purchasing groceries for his household and servicing his car at a workshop, and others.
The “highlight” of his job was when the boss asked him to fetch an anniversary gift for his wife. The closest he got to doing some real work was getting few office documents stamped at the tax office.

When he tried to put his foot down, the boss responded by saying that to get to the top, you have to start the rough way.
The employee quit after two months, but reported his boss’s behavior to human resources. The boss was also eventually fired.

Another man said he considers himself very lucky with his current boss as a Michigan Child Protective Services defense attorney, because earlier in life he endured some incredibly controlling "freak" bosses while working his way through law school.

The Insecure Boss

Ever heard of bosses who won’t let you succeed?

One woman, who works at a consultancy in Mumbai, had her work praised by senior managers, but that rankled her new boss who had joined the company six months after she was recruited.

The boss, who was just a few years older than her, started pulling her down in front of seniors and claimed sole credit for her work.
She shares an incident where she worked overtime for days to finish a report. Rather than applauding her for the effort, her boss, who only copy-edited a few lines, sent an email to staff claiming he had compiled the entire study and that the employee had “assisted” in research.

Over the next few months, the boss took charge of her clients and left her to deal with “monotonous paperwork (like) filling excel sheets, tallying profit and loss figures and cross-checking client accounts.

When she complained about the repetitive tasks, her boss told his managers that she was slacking off and becoming indifferent at work.

On one occasion, the insecure boss even went as far to say: “I know you’re eyeing my job and there’s no way I’d let you have it.". That was the last straw. A few days later, she requested (and was subsequently granted) a transfer to another department in the same company.

The insecure boss eventually resigned after other employees gave negative feedback about him to top management, she says.

The Pessimist

On one man's first day at work at a Bangalore information-technology firm, his colleagues warned him about “the parasite” — aka his boss.

After working with the boss for a short while the employee  realized what had earned the boss this nickname.

She had a negative attitude on everything, which brought down the morale of the entire team. In the boss’ view, most of her team was “always underperforming,” her fellow co-workers were too “whiny,” and her superiors “too demanding."

She routinely complained about everything from the quality of food in the office cafeteria to sulking about the lack of perks at work.

Most employees made a conscious effort to avoid her at work, he says. At company functions and dinners, however, the team felt alienated because other employees didn’t want to be around them.

Though the team never complained about her negative attitude (at least not to Mr. Patel’s knowledge) the boss was recently transferred. She currently leads a team of two people compared with eight at in the previous role.