Friday, June 30, 2017

Like A Boss

Once upon a time, I had a boss.

To be clear, I still have a boss, but this story is about some other boss...the boss who had the distinction of being the worst boss I have ever had.

We clashed. Oh, how we clashed. I clash with a lot of bosses, but this this guy, the clashes were daily. Over time, his boss became involved--I made that happen. When a situation is not getting fixed no matter what you try, not only do you need a witness, you need a witness with some power over the situation.

One conversation I had with the boss's boss was rather interesting in that at one point, Boss's Boss started to point out some behaviors of mine that were less than perfect.

My answer to him was simple: "I'm not the boss."

That's not a cop-out. I own my bad behaviors, of which there are plenty. I have several qualities that make me unsuited to be someone's boss in a corporate environment--that's why I don't seek those positions.

But my boss, obviously, was a boss. He sought that position and got it. Because he was not prepared for the position he got, he had employees who talked shit about him. When the employees know more about the job than their boss does, and it extends long past the "new guy" threshold, it's a problem. When employees have a better grasp of the corporate mission than their boss, it's a problem.

At some point, my boss became at least somewhat aware of the fact that none of his employees respected him.

If it were me, and I found out that nobody respected me, I would consult my own boss and say, "Am I OK?" and get some guidance. Let's face it--in Corporate America, having your employees dislike you is not necessarily a clue that you are doing things wrong. Sometimes corporations have to take a department in a direction that the employees don't like. A good boss embraces the mission and makes the change palatable. A bad boss shrugs, blames corporate (in some misguided attempt to be the "good guy"), and takes no responsibility or interest in his employees' reactions. He doesn't care.

This guy was a bad boss. He thought that since he was the boss, he was above us and didn't have to learn anything new--that we should fall in line and support his idiocy, or perhaps protect him from it. We weren't having it. We reported his stupid behavior over and over, to interested parties. He started to react to the fact that we didn't respect him by punishing us in those weird corporate ways--scheduling mandatory meetings in the middle of your vacation and demanding that you be there, or else; giving promotions to people he "likes" rather than people who are qualified; severely docking you for being 10 minutes late even though it was the only time you had been late in a year; etc.

You know what I mean...all those corporate dick moves that bad bosses make.

His staff began to complain, and because I am the loudest person in just about any room, of course I complained the loudest.

Here's the thing: I'm a competent employee who shows up every day and gives it my full attention until I walk out the door. If you can't give it at least as much as I do every day, you shouldn't be my boss. I expect my boss to be better at it than me, otherwise, why are they my boss? I expect my boss to be smarter than me, otherwise...why are they my boss?

And yes, I expect my boss to be a better person than me, at least in the confines of dealing with people at work. Be a dick on your own time--I have corporate overlords to appease and you're hindering my process!

I expect bosses to have more measured reactions and to think things through more than I might. I expect them to have knowledge that I maybe don't have, and to use that knowledge to steer the ship. I expect them to be calm when I panic, and if it's not too much to ask, I hope that they will use their expertise and knowledge to help me be calm, too.

You a boss.

Be the fucking boss.

Lead people.

Steer the ship instead of freaking out and lashing out.

Solve problems instead of making problems..

It's not too much to ask, especially when you *asked for the job*.

You probably know where this is headed...

You probably think, "She's going to start talking about the President."


I am reminded of my terrible boss fairly often, because, of course, the guy living in the White House reminds me of him. They run their operations in a similar manner...badly. Shady with a side of Stupid. Zero leadership, all about me, blah, blah, blah. If only narcissists weren't so fucking boringly predictable.

But, for better or worse...he's a boss. He's THE boss, in this country at the moment, or at least he'd like you to think that he is. He can make a lot of things happen, for, and *to*, a lot of people. He's very powerful.

The latest uproar about him in the media isn't the worst thing he has ever said or done--not even close. It's not even the worst thing he's said or done since winning the election, but we churn up the fake outrage machine, and everyone pretends to be shocked at the new, alarming behavior, then next week we all go back to "meh".

Just know one thing: Just like my old boss, the right people are paying attention. The process may move slowly, but eventually, just like my old boss was eventually fired, this boss will also be fired, and for the same reason--not producing results + too many people can't stand him to justify the lack of performance.

Those of us living during this time will remember to look out for the warning signs of a terrible boss for every future engagement, and steer clear. We'll do better. We'll ask better questions, going in, and we'll investigate our potential bosses more completely from now on. All of this is not to say we won't be damaged--my career was certainly damaged by having a terrible boss, but here we are...we have one. We can't turn back time, we can only do our best to protect ourselves into this blows over.

I know this is not what we want to hear in the heat of our blast of anger, but that's the deal. Am I terrible old to have achieved this much patience? I dunno. I know that I have had a serious case of outrage exhaustion for ages now (at least 2 years) and I shut down that part of my brain when necessary--occasionally with a nice IPA. I've seen enough to know this won't last--as much as we are a republic and the citizens are the bosses, there are people--seriously people--running things that we don't even know about, and as soon as he reaches the end of his usefulness, the boss will be fired, just like in Corporate America. No real mercy in dollars and cents--when he starts to cost more than he earns, buh-bye.

In the meantime, I think we should just give the man his space, and his phone, and just keep shining that bright spotlight on him so he can be recognized in all his glory. Go ahead, big us what you're capable of. Stomp through that tulip patch like a boss. Show us who is in charge...exactly who. Don't worry, your bosses are taking notes.