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Bad boss stories? Hers are doozies

Frugal Zeitgeist holds a Bad Boss Festival to acknowledge the contributions of lousy bosses in blogger's life.

By Karen Datko Apr 5, 2010 12:53PM

“FZ” at Frugal Zeitgeist seems like the kind of boss workers would enjoy and respect. How did she get to be so good? Most of what she learned came from observing managers who oversaw her work -- particularly the bad ones, and she’s had some doozies.


Topping her list at a post called “The Bad Boss Festival” was a “boss who tracked his guesstimates for female employees' menstrual periods on a calendar.”


“There have been many instances in which something my boss at the time did made me feel undervalued, disrespected, marginalized, and completely unappreciated,” she wrote.


Among others on her list:

  • A boss who kissed female employees on the forehead.
  • A boss who tried to get her to convert to his faith.
  • A boss who sent instant messages and otherwise occupied himself during performance reviews.
  • A boss who forced her to work through her vacation on a project that could have waited until she came back.

Among her readers' examples were Revanche’s account of the boss who “pantsed a male intern in the front office in full view of the window facing the street, in a room of female employees,” and another who would “kick, scream, and froth at the mouth.” Then there’s the male boss who told her he hired her for her looks. That’s classy.

What does it take to be a good boss? FZ offers suggestions in an excellent companion post called “Building a better boss.” Among them:

  • Lead by example. If you want your employees to be energetic, respectful and happy to come to work each day, you have to be that way yourself.
  • Build a culture of trust, which includes this simple but oft-ignored advice: “It's not fair to either withhold well-deserved praise or blindside someone by bringing up constructive criticism for the very first time on a formal performance review.”
  • Listen more than you talk, specifically a 70% to 30% listen-talk ratio. And learn body language that says you’re really paying attention.
  • Appreciate workers as people. How many workers can say their bosses do that? FZ says that “I've always found that having insight into my team's lives outside of work is both personally rewarding and really helpful when it comes to gauging how they will respond to difficult situations.”

Have any bad boss stories to share? What did you learn from their antics?


Sometimes subordinates do prevail. “One very senior one remains but was counseled by HR for his inappropriateness around women. One was fired for cause, one was laid off, and two had all their staff taken away and have no one reporting into them,” FZ wrote.


Related reading:

Dec 20, 2010 1:18AM
Song "Sweetest Lemonade" hear @ URL: A song about the bad boss, improving your position in life, and never settling
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