Sunday, May 17, 2009

More Thinking About the Boss

In my last post I took a few minutes to recall a couple of the many really great bosses that I’ve had the pleasure to work with over the years. But when it comes to bosses, we all know there are two sides to the equation. For every good boss we’ve experienced there is at least one, and sometimes several, bad bosses.

Bad bosses come in a variety of flavors, much like ice cream:

• The Incompetent (Vanilla)
• The Screamer (Chocolate)
• The Politician (Strawberry)

But once you get past the basics, the flavors get much more exotic. For instance, I once had a boss who had an interesting strategy he used to show his boss that he was on top of things. Let’s refer to him as “Rocky Road.” Rocky Road would look at his staff, identify the “weak link,” and then begin the process of “coaching” that employee. Strangely, no one who was coach ever improved and each was, in turn, terminated. How did he determine the “weak link?” The only thing we knew for sure was that it had nothing to do with actual performance. But as soon as the target was identified we all knew it. And we could all predict when that person would have their “final coaching session."

I had another boss who I will refer to as “Peppermint Surprise.” This boss was so prone to mood swings that her secretary developed an alert system for the management team. The secretary kept a shark magnet on her filing case. When the shark was in the middle things were “normal”. When the shark was on the left, the boss had a good date the night before and you could bring in any problem or issue you wanted. But if the shark was on the right, you didn’t go near the office. And if you were summoned, you did not respond. This went on for 3 years and Peppermint Surprise never caught on.

Do you have a favorite flavor for your bad boss? We’d love to hear your stories and we’ll have a special gift for the best “worst boss.”

Until next time....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

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