Ask Bing: A boss so bad, it's funny (almost)
You love your coworkers, but hate your boss. Fortune's Stanley Bing tells readers when to cut their losses, and when to hang tough.
Hi ya Stanley! From this Web site it appears I am in a rather large boat - a superliner I think. So my boss comes into my office, steaming over a minor incident and started yelling, demanding respect and saying stuff like "I am the Executive Director", blah blah blah. The irony is that I work for a non-profit domestic violence agency. We consider her behavior pattern abuse. She is clearly a bully. We spend thousands of hours every year teaching people about unhealthy vs. healthy relationships, yet she refuses to see the pathology of her behavior, or change. This is a pattern with her - her grandiose sense of entitlement leads to perceived disrespect and then she goes after someone.
Aside from her, I love my co-workers. They are smart, kind, and funny. The horns of my dilemma are whether to leave the abusive, crappy boss and take a chance on another boss, or endure an erratic, abusive boss to stay in what is otherwise an enjoyable and rewarding workplace? I am a bit bullheaded and am constitutionally unable to suck-up, kiss-butt or any of those other adaptive workplace behaviors. Any strategies for me and the others like me to get along?
Yeah. It sounds like you have a pretty good job. How about not giving a hoot about the loser boss and just enjoying what you do there? For reading material on the subject, I suggest my book "Throwing The Elephant: Zen and the Art of Managing Up." It's about how a calm, Zen approach to big gray elephants can help you maintain your sanity while those about you are losing theirs. One final thing: A little kissing up is just polite. Don't be a stiff and get with a little bit of that program, too. Not a lot. Just a bit. You'll be glad you played just enough of the game to make your life 100 percent easier.
I have a co-worker who has been with the company for over 20 years, and during that time she has proven her incompetence numerous times. So much so that they don't assign her new tasks because she'll screw them up. I have proven very reliable, so I get all the tasks that have been taken away from her. I believe she pretends to be stupid to keep the work at bay. Help!
Your co-worker is employing the "husband's solution" to tasks she doesn't like to do. Every man knows it, and perhaps even some women, albeit about different tasks. You finish dinner. Your wife says, "Will you do the dishes, honey?" Rather than say "No, dear, I don't want to do the dishes because I'm a male-chauvinist pig who thinks that's women's work," you simply do such a lousy job at the dishes that you are never asked to do them again. Some women may have discovered the efficacy of this strategy in such matters as the changing of light bulbs and the carrying of television sets, a task which is just as odious for a small man as it is for a woman of normal strength.
Be that as it may, you have a real problem on your hands. She's been there 20 years. You want to be the one who is responsible for her eventual firing? People will hate you! And rightly so! Sure, she's totally useless. Everybody knows it. I'm sure you are not the only one picking up her slack. Do a great job at the stuff you are given and rather than resisting the inevitable about this longtime screw-up, get yourself a raise. That's a task you can really sink your teeth into. Bet you get it, too. You're doing the work of at least two people!
Stanley, love your blog. I learn a lot and laugh, my favorite combination. Since you mention Michael's restaurant so much, what's your feeling about readers stopping by to say hello?
Ask Stanley Bing
Having a problem at work? Tell us your workplace dilemma and get Stanley Bing's no-BS advice in his weekly "Ask Bing" column. Submit your question below or e-mail them directly to email@example.com. Your name is optional, and although your e-mail address is required, it will remain private.