Bad Boss

I've been wanting to tackle this topic for quite a while, but with much apprehension. One of the hallmark of bad bosses is you don't want to speak ill of the defunct, lest it affect your career. Nobody wants to be the whiner. And especially in this economy, unless you're in horrific conditions and subject to daily abuse you want to keep your job until you can flip to something better.
Tons of horrible boss lists exist, imploring supervisors to dial back that narcissism just a bit, please. Other articles warn jobseekers about managerial red flags.
But sometimes you just have a bad boss and you didn't recognize it at first because you were so desperate for the job. Or maybe you are the boss and don't realize how callous you are to your employees.

Are you a bad boss?
Do you:

  • Require inhumane amounts of unpaid overtime
  • Treat interns like slave labor to prop up your (dying) business
  • Scream at/around underlings; making them your personal psychiatrists
  • Belittle their education or training to make yourself appear better
  • Ask employees to assist in cutting "dingleberries" from your aging cat (seriously, it happened!), or any other super personal errand not part of the job description
  • Refuse to fire dead-weight employees due to your own apathy or sentimentalism
It's one thing to make employees occasionally stay overtime on a critical project. It's another to make every assignment a critical project. I once had a supervisor who assumed that no one had a life outside of work. I'm not speaking as a millennial bemoaning a lack of work/life balance. I'm talking about routinely requiring the minions to stay past 9 p.m. because of (ultimately unsuccessful) projects that got dreamed up at the last minute to occupy time. The business had people commuting in from large distances, so it was even more inconsiderate. I ultimately left due to other issues, but I was glad I never had to endure such fruitless long hours ever again.

The intern fiasco is something that's close to my heart because I've been a 20-nothing, multiple-internship-taking workaholic journalist. Internships are the bread and butter of journalism students, for sure. And yes, some interns are a pain because they don't work hard and expect to be praised for every little thing. But it's easy to misuse the internship as a way to ensure a contant stream of cheap/free labor into a business. Do that too frequently and you could eventually end up in legal trouble. Completing an internship isn't a guarantee of future employment, either, so if you take an unpaid internship, you're essentially paying for the slight chance of having a shot at a job. Depending on the employer, it may not be worth it.

Sometimes work is work. You grit your teeth and get past professional unpleasantness. Millennials are oft accused of being lazy and entitled. I've witnessed this to an extent in my own various jobs, though I think it's rarer than older folks think. And I think many millennials' motives are misunderstood, as this article suggests.

But here's a clue that you're not being mistreated in your work.
"C'est la vie" traits of bosses:
  • Requiring moderate but fair amounts of unpaid overtime
  • Giving employees assignments mildly out of their purview because it's a small business
  • Requiring personal errands because you hired a personal assistant (if you don't want to get uncomfortably intimate with your boss' daily life, don't take this job!)
  • Constructive criticism of your work
Setting realistic expectations for your job helps to combat the ennui that comes with day after day of work. I hope you've never had a bad boss, but if you have a particularly humorous or compelling story, please post in the comments.


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