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Eleven habits of the worst boss I ever had

Eleven habits of the worst boss I ever had

The TV show The Office, in both the original UK and the US version, offers numerous examples of what not to do as a leader. But the actual truth of what happens in offices is sometimes more interesting than fiction.

The TV show The Office, in both the original UK and the US version, offers numerous examples of what not to do as a leader; such as imprisoning your staff in a conference room to prove that work is better than jail. But the actual truth of what happens in offices is sometimes more interesting than fiction. A former boss of mine was a walking exemplar of poor management. As I prepare to be a boss in my own new company, I think back on the many special ways he had of demotivating his staff.

1. Change your mind. Change it several times a day. When reviewing a report, be sure to make comments that run counter to previous ones. Leave the employees guessing. It keeps them alert.

2. Be sure your employees don’t know what’s important to you. You want the best work possible, period. You don’t want staff cutting corners just because something isn’t very important. Everything is important. Always.

3. If you don’t like something, you don’t like it. You don’t have to explain. They just need to make it “better”. If you give them too much direction, how will they learn? If they press you for guidance, say: “I don’t know what you want from me. Just make the PowerPoint sexier.”

4. Bring your employees along to all your meetings, but don’t let them speak. By not talking, they have to listen. Just like a dictaphone. Then they can remind you of anything you napped through.

5. Thank your employees — but only for efforts below their skill level. “Thank-you for showing up today.” “Nice handwriting on that expense report.” Begin the staff meeting by thanking the intern for comb-binding your files.

6. Schedule weekly “all hands” meetings that require half the employees to travel (to you, of course). Agenda: They bring you up to date on what they’ve been emailing you, but you’ve been too busy to read. Don’t introduce anything new.

7. Ask your tech-savvy employees to take time from their projects to set up your home computer. Preferably, when the maid is there. Ideally, the request also includes troubleshooting your kids’ iPods.

8. Agree to deadlines and then accelerate them. Ask loudly from the hallway at 4:59 pm if the document is ready. Announce: “I’m here late tonight if you want to finish it up.”

9. Schedule “critical” meetings a few days before Christmas. Require random employees from around the world to attend. Show up late and decide everyone can reconvene to “close the open issues” on January 2.

10. Send emails at 2am. On Sunday; mark them urgent.

11. Don’t get too wrapped up in your employees’ own goals. If you’re too supportive in helping them develop, they’ll get another job. And that’s not good management. Harvard Business Review

David Silverman is the author of Typo: The Last American Typesetter or How I Made and Lost 4 Million Dollars.

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