Crazy— Bosses


You think you have it bad? Check these guys out.


I bet we all have our stories. I remember when I worked in the agency world and we were required to wear suits (as in the top and bottom came on the same hanger). When the boss came in in jeans, she said it was OK because she was cleaning out the kitchen. Oh yeah, I am totally serious. And also, if you arrived at 8:03, she would bellow “unacceptable!” to the whole room (a bullpen environment) as you walked to your desk. Work hours were 8 to at least 5.


 What you got?

Comments (19)

  1. tod hilton says:

    A lead who would throw pens at anyone [also bullpen environment] whenever they screwed up or said something. I liked the guy and it was in fun, but still…

  2. Pete R says:

    Heather, you always manage to get a post in each week that makes me laugh out loud!

    Oh the suit and the 8:00 sharp start time… how I DON’T miss agency life. (BP is now a steady 120/80)

    How about being told to recruit people in the gym. ON MY TIME at the gym! Not just recruiting passively, like "hey what do you do?" "Oh, I’m looking for a job" "Oh really?……" and continuing in that manner, but being told to stand outside the gym, like a Girl Scout selling cookies!  

    —–Only the Taglalongs though 🙂

    Another thing was MANDATORY Saturday "Call Blitzes" so we can each achieve 25 submittals a week. You were there, whether you had 1 deal or 101 deals that week.  No direction, just grab a stack and find out what they are a fit for. Oh anf you were there at 8am on Saturday (Bring your own bagels was the norm)

    Strangely, turnover was high there. Did I mention I don’t miss agency life?

  3. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh Pete, that’s bad! I worked the temp side and we had to stay late one night a week and make calls. But the calls weren’t enough. We needed "connects!"…."connects! conects! connects!" I wish you could hear the voice…through the nose with an extreme Chicago accent. "Connects!"….emphasis on the "ects!" Sounds like you had the same thing but on a Saturday. Man, that’s pretty bad. Oh there’s still a co-worker out there that can immitate it perfectly.

    OK, doesn’t everyone who came through the agency side have a story like this? It’s so Glengarry Glen Ross.

    So did you earn a badge for your brownie uniform if you recruited someone at the gym? Do you know how painful that story is for me given my issue with people talking to me at the gym? I don’t envy you! Tha’t sjust plain nuts!

    PS: the Samoan cookies are my favorite but require extra gym time : )

  4. Darren Cox says:

    Hey, it’s Darren

    I have had some of the weirdest, craziest, bosses ever.

    There was the venture funded dot-com CEO who, in April of 2000, asked his assistant(my closest friend at the company), who had given her 2 weeks notice, to tell everyone she was leaving because she was gravely ill, rather than tell them the truth, that she just couldn’t stand the stress of lying to the VC’s and lawyers whenever they would call looking for him.  one week later, after I got the real story from her and started to do some Minnesota Math (as opposed to dot-com boom-era Silicon Valley math 1+1 only equals 2 if it matters) I left the company .

    Then there was the CEO of a large specialty direct marketing company here in Minnesota who is a pathological liar.  He convinced me to become the first director of strategic development for his growing company by telling me that in the 7 years that the comapny had been around hardly anyone ever left and nobody had EVER been fired, and that he had set aside several million dollars to be used as an in-house venture capital fund by the strategic development team that I was to assemble.

    On my first day of work the CEO fired three people, fully 20% of the company’s employees either quit or were fired in the first three months I was there and I found out that this was not only business as usual but not a single person could ever remember anyone getting a promotion.(not one in 7 years)

    Then 3 1/2 months in, after not allowing me to hire anyone or to actually develop any of the ideas that I had been hired to come up with, he calls me into his office and tells me that he had actually lied to me and that the company was "hemmoraging cash" and that he "wished he had found me a year-and-a-half earlier, when they still had the money to do the kinds of projects that I had been submitting to him"

    Since then (almost 2 years ago) there have been exactly 7 people with the title of Director of Strategic Development for that company and the longest anyone has lasted was the four months that I was there.

    The really funny thing is, a few months ago Minnesota Business Monthly did a cover story on the company and the CEO and the entire story could have been recorded from my first interview with him.  100% fabrication and lies from start-to-finish and nobody even bothered to check to see if even one thing the guy said was true.

    As a consultant (now) I have a ton more but I think these are the two worst..so far

  5. Jim S says:

    I worked with someone who’s previous boss would make her straighten up her desk every day before leaving. He would yell if something were out of place. Seems a bit assinine.

  6. Wine-Oh says:

    Ah a fun topic…. Up there with my favorite One Louder posting about whats in a name and does your name match your profession.

    I seem to attract the bosses from hell. I have learned not to work for a small company again.

    My first job out of college I did PR for a woman who was a psycho. She literally called me at home late at night and asked me why AOL  didnt say "Youve got mail!" when you login. I said i turned the volume down on the computer as to be courteous to my co-workers. She yelled at me for touching the volume control. Sheesh!

    Another job I had we had a dept lunch meeting and the dept head came in late. She rushed in and said "Omg sorry im late, I was in a bad cab accident and refused treatment.." meanwhile she was all made up, nails freshly painted, dressier clothes than usual, etc… She did this for attention and was never in an accident.

    All I can do is learn from these experiences and  be a better person 🙂

    Cant wait to read the others…

  7. Bad_Brad says:

    At my first job out of MBA school, we had a Managing Director who would walk around every evening between 6:00 and 6:30 PM and see who was there.  It was like a "roll call".  He wouldn’t fire you if you weren’t there, but he also was unlikely to ever give you a good review or a good raise or a promotion.  And it made no difference if you had nothing to do.  The expected norm was to sit around, twiddle your thumbs, surf the Internet, etc, until roll call.  After roll call, you could go home.

    I will say that this greatly shaped the way I managed people when I finally had the chance.  Hourly employees are one thing – if you’re paying by the hour, you ought to be sure that you really are getting the hours that you pay for – but with salaried people, in my mind, if they get the job done, that’s all that matters.  An adult professional on salary ought to be able to manage his/her own time without me playing these kind of stupid Mickey Mouse games.  All of my direct reports on salary appreciated this.

  8. HeatherLeigh says:

    Wine-Oh, that is psycho.

    Bad-Brad, isn’t it interesting how a bad manager situation like that can definitely frame your approach as a manager yourself? I feel the same way. I’ve been through the "roll call" myself and also take the approach of people being mature and smart enough to know what they need to do to get the job done versus punching a clock. Having tough manager situations are miserable at the time but they do result in some incredible self-analysis.

  9. Bad_Brad says:

    One other thing I noticed reading the article … amazing how all of these "crazy" bosses are male, and almost all of them work (or worked) on the cutting edge of technology.

    Emblematic, perhaps, that maybe there is a bit of truth to the male personality stereotype in technology that is extremely bright and capable but has absolutely no people skills?

  10. AmyT says:

    Oh Boy. Great topic. I worked at a hotel. It was my internship while in college and then I was hired full time once I graduated. Needless to say I was young and naive. The manager was a total witch. One week she changed my schedule and didn’t let me know. Then she called me on my day off to ask why I wasn’t there. (Usually, everyone checked the schedule once a week when it was posted and didn’t look at it again unless they wanted to switch with someone.) Anyway, when I got to work you could so tell she had erased and repenciled in the change. After that episode, in which she yelled in my face, the "policy" was that we had to check our work schedule *every* day. Exactly how do you do that on your day off??

    I started looking for another job soon after. I don’t miss shift work!!

  11. HeatherLeigh says:

    Hmm, interesting point. For me, I have had female managers across the spectrum from best to worst. My male managers weren’t at the extremes of the spectrum.

    I’m sure there are some socioligocial reasons why there’s a higher likelihood of men as crazy bosses atthe exec level; the gender imbalance at that most senior level, most seem "older" and society, in the past, may have been less tolerant of a female eccentric than a male eccentric. This is so a separate post that I am not writing : )

    There are plenty of crazy male and female mid managers!

  12. eliza g says:

    Female boss (Ms. S) who (1) performed personnel evals at group meetings including pay discussions, (2) gave me a "negative cost of living allowance", yes cut my pay, because I didn’t "need it" because I don’t wear make-up.

    Female boss (Ms. V) who belittled co-workers (she did not supervise) and would reduce them to tears (literally) and then asks sweetly, "What is their problem?".  None of the men (?) would say anything because they were afraid of upsetting Ms. V because "She could have another Heart Attack."  (Ms. V would wear open front shirts or dresses "proudly" showing off her scar when she was testy so you at least had some warning.)

  13. HeatherLeigh says:

    Oh boy, Eliza!

  14. James says:

    re: Crazy—Bosses.  Seems that nobody has a crazy boss like I do. He has to be getting paranoid about everyone who works for him. I was told that he searches my delivery truck on Saturdays when I don’t work, looking for imaginery merchandise that I am stealing. also, in the winter, he has us shovel by hand the parking lot and all the sidewalks around the building, while a brand new riding tractor with a snow blade just sits in the basement and gets rusty. In the summer when it is hot, he has me go out and mow all the grass, and has the nerve to tell me he doesn’t want me to sweat while mowing, then I have to go and make my deliveries right after mowing. He has gotten to the point where you cannot even reason with him anymore. The hint is he is 89 years old and a JEW to boot.  I wouldn’t wish him on anyone, I have put up with him for 9 years and am still waiting for my first raise. I still make per hour what I got paid as starting wages back then.

  15. Maddie says:

    I was on the education staff at a Children’s Garden in New Jersey when my crazy boss and his psycho board member had a meeting with a Latin American artist who was going to paint some maps for a display we were putting together.  Psycho board member, who is a Latin American woman, wanted to make copies of the contracts and sketches but couldn’t figure out how to operate a Xerox! She stood in front of the copier, loudly shouting, ‘Oh, I can’t do this! I’m just a dumb Polack! HA HA HA! ” Then she gave it to me ( a white Polish American) and told me to copy it.  I did, professionally and with a smile on my face.  After all, we had a “visitor” in our very public non-profit.  The next day, I told my Crazy Boss, alone, in his office, that I didn’t want to make a big deal about it, and it wasn’t about ME, but this is what Psycho said, and I didn’t think ethnic slurs made a good impression in our diverse environment.  I said he didn’t even have to tell Psycho I said anything; maybe he could be aware and say something to her the next time she made a racist comment, which happened quite a bit with her.  He was all cool about it, said no problem, acted like my best friend.  Then he went to lunch with Psycho.  When they returned, Psycho storms right into the front door right up to my desk, SCREAMING “I never said it!  I never said it!” She began to beat her fist on my desk and I instinctively backed away, too shocked to do anything. We went into Crazy’s office and she continued to scream and swear at me, backing me right up against a file cabinet as Crazy stood there and watched. I didn’t say one word as she put her long red painted fingernail so close to my eye I was afraid to blink, trying to turn my head to the side.  She threatened my job, told me it was over for me, then she threatened my LIFE! At that point, I found my self-esteem and turned to Crazy Boss and yelled, “Are you just going to stand there and let her talk to me that way!  I could call the police!  I work for YOU! You’re supposed to provide a safe work environment!”  At that point, Crazy says, “OK, Psycho, take it easy,” and I ran out and went home, crying and shaking the entire way.  The next day, Crazy Boss began to call every single staff member into his office, and grilled them for any “inappropriate behavior” on my part.  One co-worker I was friends with told me he told Crazy I was the best employee on staff and Crazy told him to get out and go back to work.  I wondered why friends and co-workers could no longer look me in the eye. That day he called me in to his office at the end of the day and told me my job was now part-time, and they don’t pay any benefits to part-time employees.  I quit the next day, filed for unemployment, was denied, appealed, and had to tell my “story” to an unemployment mediator. I was thrilled that Crazy would have to sit there and listen to me tell a decision-maker what an abusive jerk he was, but he never showed up to the hearing 8 months later!  I won the appeal and was awarded 8 months of unemployment in a single check!  I would have given it all back just to be able to tell this story five years later without still shaking a little bit every time I think of the experience.      

  16. HeatherLeigh says:

    Whoah, that is crazy (and not just because I am a quarter polish myself!)

  17. wyntera says:

    Here’s one from when I was in college.  I worked at a fast food restaurant one summer, one of those where the girls were supposed to wear skates and take the food out to the cars.  I got out of wearing the skates because I worked inside.

    Anyway, we were all aware that the district manager was coming to watch us all work–on a FRIDAY night no less–so we were to all be on our best behavior.  Then, when I showed up for my shift, my actual boss had called in sick, so there is no one to run interference between DM and employees.

    We usually started clean-up between 11 and 12 since we’re open till 1am.  But DM decided to make us start clean up at 9, when were still in full swing "dish out the food" mode.  So there’s one of the chefs dragging this huge hose around everyones feet trying to clean the floor, while we all work.  Disaster was bound to happen.

    I was carrying 2 huge ice cream sundaes, 1 in each hand, when the hose whipped me in the legs and I fell, hitting my head against the floor hard enough to bounce, and I black out.  I wake up, covered in ice cream, and this bastard has the audacity to tell me to get up and keep working.  That it was my own fault, for not watching where I was going.  The other girls started yelling all at the same time, but he just told them to get back to work.  My vision was all hazy, but I think I was just in shock at that point, and sort of stumbled through the rest of my shift.  The next day, I had to go to the hospital for a concussion.  Luckily, my actual boss was far more of a human, and I got compensated.

  18. HeatherLeigh says:

    Your actual boss probably had the good sense to know that you could have sued! Sheesh!

  19. Emily says:

    A female manager who was a Lean Six Sigma pauper, but who was also a yoga teacher on the side. That’s right. She was a corporate agenda meets hippie hybrid. She chewed gum constantly, used "dude" and "like" all the time, stuttered when she spoke (mostly because she was lying alot), made spur of the moment decisions, handed down impossible projects in short periods of time CONSTANTLY, would change deadlines randomly, would make us work until 1:00 or 2:00 AM on work that was thrown away the next day due to random scope changes. Oh please, I think I got EVERYONE beat here!