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Dealing with a bad boss: Nutty horror stories

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OK, who here has a terrible boss?

Today, I want to talk about them, because if you have one, you think about them every single day you go to work.

What makes a bad boss?

Maybe they’re overbearing and rude. Maybe they dismiss every idea you have.

Or maybe they’re the spineless boss that meekly says, “Sorry, I can’t give you a raise…that’s all the wiggle room I have…” If he can’t stand up for himself, how will he ever stand up for you?

Just try to imagine the look on someone’s face on a Sunday afternoon as they think about going back to work for their boss the next day. I can see them in my mind, drinking at a Sunday brunch and complaining about something their boss did. Their friends, who’ve heard this 50 times, roll their eyes and try to change the subject. It’s hilarious…as long as it’s someone else. That last line is also my life philosophy.

A bad boss means that every day — for 8+ hours/day, 2,000+ hours/year — some of us are walking around on pins and needles, dreading seeing our boss. It’s like walking around with a 50lb weight on your shoulders that you can’t take off…because it’s also secretly keeping you alive (aka giving you a paycheck).

Now here’s the interesting part.

Of all the people who have bad bosses, how many leave to find another job? Maybe 1 in 100? Why does everyone else stay? You’re not a slave. You can leave whenever you want.

There’s a lot of boo-hoo, woe-is-me, waa-the-economy-is-so-bad. Actually, no, it’s not. Top performers can get a job in days in this economy. (In fact, we’re hiring for lots of positions.)

If you have a bad boss, it’s not your fault — but it is your responsibility to do something about it. Once you’ve admitted that your boss is bad and you want out, you have 3 options:

  1. Try to change your boss (unlikely)
  2. Find another job (hmm, if only there were some way to find your Dream Job)
  3. Do nothing and complain (I’ll see you in hell)

It’s just like being in a bad relationship. You can blame it on them all you want…but ultimately, it’s your decision to stay or leave.

One of the skills that few people talk about is knowing when to quit. Seth Godin writes about this in The Dip, where he says:

“…What really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly, while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt — until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons.”

For all the people who complain about a bad boss, how many of them spotted the telltale signs — years ago? And did nothing?

Ultimately, it comes down to this: You don’t have to accept a bad boss. It’s not “normal” or part of paying your dues. Nobody should have to sigh and say, “Another Monday…back to the grind.”

I actually think a lot of us are in this situation — a lot more than we want to admit. So I want open up the conversation around this.

What’s your boss horror story?

Do you have a bad boss? Did you finally escape? I want you to share your boss horror stories in the comments.

Beyond pure curiosity, I want to start a conversation about this. What made them so bad? And as you write this, notice how it makes you feel.

Share your boss horror story in the comments below. Don’t worry about naming any names or revealing yourself. You can keep it completely anonymous.

This isn’t just for employees, either. If you’ve been a boss, flip it. What’s your employee horror story?

I’m excited to read yours.

P.S. It’s fun to commiserate about horrible bosses. But I’m more interested in understanding what we can do about it.

Recently, I heard one of the most fascinating boss horror stories of all time. It came from a guest in my Brain Trust program, Kevin Hillstrom. Today, Kevin is the CEO of a successful business, MineThatData (and an amazing strategist). But early in his career, he was an awkward junior analyst — with ZERO communication and business skills.

One day, he was sitting in his cubicle and overheard his boss saying horrible things about him behind closed doors.

Instead of complaining about how bad his boss was, he took a totally different perspective — one that changed his entire career.

Check out Kevin’s story here:

Want to know what every single top performer I’ve interviewed in Brain Trust (including CEOs, athletes, and best-selling authors) ALL have in common? Simple. It’s habits. Successful people don’t just catch a lucky break and coast — they systematically identify and integrate winning habits into their lives, day in and day out, for years.

Ramit’s Brain Trust is now closed indefinitely. But before we closed the program, we extracted all the juiciest success habits from our guests and packaged them into a 7-part Ultimate Guide to Habits that you can read anytime, anywhere — absolutely free.

Ultimate Guide to Habits
Includes HD videos, action plans, and lessons from the world’s leading experts on behavioral change.

Imagine 30 days from today, jumping out of bed early with tons of energy. You actually LOOK FORWARD to the day — no more feeling frazzled — because of the new “peak performance” tools you’re using now.

Maybe you want to start eating healthier, or cook a meal once a week. Maybe you want to start a business, or even just read one book a month.

No problem. Start small. Pick 1 or 2 things to use these powerful techniques on, and watch what happens.

Just sign up below and I’ll send you a free copy of the Ultimate Guide to Habits right away.

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  1. Oh man, bad boss? I once had a boss that threw a complete fit because I accidentally broke a coffee pot in the pantry. The best part was that it wasn’t even her’s… and the person that did own the coffee pot was okay with it since I told him that I’ll buy him a new one. She threw a massive fit anyway, about work reputations and how I tarnished her work reputation nonetheless.

    Two weeks later, when I was invited to her room for my quarter review and she continued to act very dramatic about the coffee pot, I quit the job.

  2. My boss wasn’t evil, just offered no leadership and ran the business poorly. There was never any money for raises, or to hire necessary staff, or sometimes even to pay our vendors. I stuck it out for more then seven years, until a couple months ago when I decided it was simply time to go. I didn’t have another job lined up, but I gave my month’s notice and left anyway. It felt good to leave on my own terms, when things were going well in my department. What I’ve realized in the time since is that you don’t have to stay in a job when you are miserable. You can leave. And if the next job you accept isn’t what you want, you don’t have to stay five years to prove you’re not a quitter. Move on!

    • Yeah, that is often a problem. Most people here whine and complain about one specific problem boss that will raise your blood pressure to dangerous level. All people do that to occasionally, and often without realising it. There are certainly sociopaths out there, but they are not that common.

      But a leaderless, directionless company that is just drifting? Very very common case. The problem is that the bosses THINK they know what they want, but they don’t really, and they don’t give clear directions. Often because they only have a vague fuzzy dream about what they want. And when they don’t get what they thought they wanted they can get unpleasant.

  3. I had a bad boss at my last job which I had worked at for over 10 years. The problem began when I applied for the job after writing a 5-year plan for the company which was accepted. I had assumed that since I wrote the plan that the position would be executing that I had a fair shot. She got the job, and I congratulated her on it. She got wind that I had applied and that’s when the issues started.

    My reviews went from 8 years of stellar to crap. then the case building began to get rid of me. She started allowing co-workers to berate me, and would back them up. She started publically humiliating me at all staff meetings, and taking budget away from my projects. the “what is it you say you do here” conversation was on its way.

    I would become physically ill in the parking lot before work and worked like that for years. It was awful.

  4. I have a horrible bos… right now! I haven’t worked for the company too long. I am already looking for a way out. My boss exaggerates and lies a lot and has no integrity. It started at the hiring interview. I was promised the world! Everything I could ever dream of. This is my first job out of university so needless to say that I was not that experenced dealing with higher-ups. He told me the company is a great place to work for, has great structure and potential. Gave me a terrible salary saying he will review it in 3 months. I get in. It becomes clear to me while the company is established, the department they were trying to run is a start-up. Absolutely no structure whatsoever. I ended up working late evenings and weekends trying to meet some ridiculous deadlines. They have no money either. They can’t hire more hands. 3 months down the line I demanded my raise. I was a very valuable employee by then. I keep getting promises. And promises and promises but absolutely no action. I am definitely wasting my time and talents. Here. Nowadays, I still work late… applying to better positions once my 8 hour per day is up 🙂

  5. My bad boss was this douche named John. About 3 months of working with this “B+” Player…the guy literally didn’t know how to project plan, never had a successful development cycle the whole time. That and he was just rude and never cared about company priorities, just “his” priorities. Oh that and he constantly brown-nosed to the execs while simultaneously treating the rest of the devs like sub-par people.

    I did my best to coach the guy as I was much more familiar on how to efficiently run a Scrum Development process, suggested a lot of ways to improve our dev cycles, how to run meetings, prioritizing, using in-house tech, etc. But he was one of those older guys who just thought he knew best. Nonetheless I just couldn’t handle dealing with all his inefficiencies. Eventually it got to the point where his inability to manage anything correctly or efficiently impacted my own productivity. That’s when I had to draw the nine; he was making ME look bad. I just gave my two weeks notice.

    Luckily for me, I have ZERO debt and a heft “Rainy Day” fund, so quitting and going on a 4-month vacation was no problem. But yeah never again will I work for a sub-par boss.

  6. My last job had a boss that was nutso. He seemed to be afraid of doing actual work, despite the fact that he was running a department. When you met with him, he would go off on long story telling tangents about how great he was or how he did amazing things 20 years ago under the guise of “teaching” you. He also frequently badmouthed coworkers to me and undermined their accomplishments while publicly praising them. Friday mornings were spent in a conference room, where he would share news from other departments and ramble on about how they were all out to get us and didn’t know what they were doing, and then we all went around the table and shared what we worked on that week. It took 2-3 hours EVERY WEEK, think of the time wasted. He also assumed that if you ever took sick time, you were not actually sick, you just wanted free vacation time (he also worked sick and often infected half the office). He antagonized every group he was supposed to work with but was somehow never let go. And I would understand this if he produced great results, but in the three years I worked there, he never did. He either shared credit for colleagues’ work or had something in the works, but never closed. We were going through a big push and he frequently tasked a colleague with projects and then changed the purview of them when she was set to execute, telling her she was moving too quickly and also reprimanding her for not producing results. I think he kept shifting targets because he was afraid that he wouldn’t produce results.

    Actually, all of the higher ups were nutso, now that I think about it. Those who stayed were in it because they were yes men, too comfortable or afraid to move on. I stayed in three years (which was two too many), but the tuition benefits helped me get a masters for very cheap. I got it in May, quit in July.

    • So, umm, can we remove the picture from this post? I didn’t realize you use disqus comments and would prefer not to have that attached.

  7. Yep, had a few of those….
    #1. Set up timebombs on the system (we were IT) when he thought his job was in jeopardy. If he didn’t sign on for two weeks they would start going off. I let the company know when I put in my resignation. They offered me his position 6 months later when he resigned….. but there were other issues there so I politely declined. (There was no proof on timebombs as he had removed them.)
    #2. Had to be “right”, and never accepted input and was know for yelling across the cube farm “Last time I checked I was Manager”. During this one I discovered Liz Wiseman’s book “Multipliers” – those people who you will jump through fiery hoops for. The opposite is a “Diminisher” – putting a name to it and having mitigating tactics keep my sanity until I was able to earn a professional certification that enabled me to get that “Dream job”. Also, that professional segment has a local chapter for which I have been on the board for 5 years and as of Jan 1st am President. I found my “validation/calling” outside my direct work situation.

  8. In my first office job, I had a boss I liken as a male version of The Devil Wears Prada. I started working for him in the first place because at the time I needed a job, and got the interview because he happens to be my great-uncle by marriage. I say “got the interview” because I still had to interview and prove myself to stay. He was fond of referring to past employees as those who “couldn’t survive,” ergo those of us currently employed were surviving (at least temporarily). He had decades of experience in building companies, government proposals and contracts. So the value of what I learned as a direct report was not lost on me. However, the knowledge gained was not worth the way I was constantly demeaned by his treatment. Incredibly rude and disrespectful, with outrageous expectations – he once insisted I come to the office after a hurricane “so the team could all be together” when there were downed trees and power lines everywhere. I could easily have worked remotely with my laptop (or taken off – nothing urgent going on). He constantly demeaned the entire team in front of each other as well– it was very embarrassing in weekly meetings to see coworkers chastised right next to you, especially those higher in the totem pole.

    I worked for him for about 2 years before the company faced some challenges and laid everyone off for lack of funds. I think I stayed because of the family connection; because I’m a hard worker and by nature don’t like to back down from a commitment; I was doing well despite the challenges and earned a promotion within first year; and mostly, I think, because I was young and inexperienced, and it didn’t occur to me that I didn’t have to let someone treat me like that just because they were in a position of power.

  9. My former boss was truly nutty. He didn’t stop at throwing me under the bus and criticizing my work in front of my clients. (Whom privately apologized to me for HIS behavior!)
    One night he took me to dinner and waited until one glass of wine was consumed when he asked me, “what’s it going to take to get you to convert to my religion?” I was floored. It felt like an ultimatum and all I could say was “do you realize how umcomfortable this question is for me?” His response? “Just imagine how uncomfortable I am asking!” Oi vey. It took me years before I left, thanks to him being in another, out of state office. But still…

  10. Oh man — I’ve got one. I got a job offer from this place in December. They told me my start date was Jan. 1. So I gave my other job 2 weeks notice and quit in time to start the new job at the start of the year

    Well, as it turns out, the boss wasn’t so sure she wanted to bring me…So my start date was Jan 1. It dragged out to the middle of February.

    Keep in mind that I quit my old job and thought I was starting a new one, so I spent a whole month out of work. My mistake — I know, but still.

    When I finally got started on day 1 of this new job, the boss walks up to me. Points to a desk with a huge stack of papers on it. And says, “You can go ahead and get started.”

    I have no idea how to log in to my computer. I have no idea what I’m even working on or where any of these papers go. So I start frantically asking people around me — “What am I supposed to do?”

    They’re not much help, as they’er from a different department.

    So the boss comes back over around lunch. “You mean you haven’t finished yet?”

    “I don’t even know where to start?”

    “I knew we shouldn’t have brought you on. This is the most simple task we have.”

    I wanted to scream back at her, but I refrained.

    God, I never thought that first day would end.

    I got home, told everyone I know about it. And decided I was going to quit.

    When I went to the boss the next day, she said, “I already fired you — so I don’t care. You can leave your badge on your desk.”

    2 weeks later she send me a bill in the mail, saying I never paid for parking, broke the computer, and owed her time for her services.

    She even threatened a lawsuit.

    I’ve never met a worse person in my life. Needless to say — that was the worst boss I’ve ever had and will never repeat that mistake again.

    • Wow, this has got to be one of the worst I’ve ever heard. So how did it resolve?

    • End thread. Go home, everyone.

    • I worked for a sociopath named Matthew. He did the usual- presented my work to his superiors as his own, micromanaged, bullied, belittled, and muddied the waters. I would cry on my drive in, because I didn’t know what freakish passive-aggressive unpleasantness he would have in store for me. He tried to take disciplinary action toward me for going to medical appointments that he had previously approved. He wrote me up for taking a half-day off to go to a friend’s funeral in another state. I was out for a medical issue for a week, and he demanded my coworker keep the cubby door of my cubicle open to obscure a picture I had up because it disturbed him.
      The picture was a photo and quote by Gandhi. Dude, if Gandhi upsets you, maybe you’re a freak.
      I left after a year in the middle of the recession without a new position lined up, and it all worked out fine.
      And I hope he gets dick cancer.

  11. I had a boss who was a single woman in her mid 40s. She had a crush on me. I was in a position where I had to be supervised by her next to her in clinic. Whenever she was supervising me, she would stare at me with eyes full of sexual desire. I felt very uncomfortable and kept my professional distance. She Became angry that I was not reciprocating her feelings and started becoming very emotional over petty things towards me from then on. She would behave in ways to outwardly hurt my feelings. She would belittle me in front of other colleagues in meetings and snap at me for no reason in private conversations. Whenever I would run into her a say “good morning” as I do to any work colleague, she would intentionally look away and ignore my greetings. This went on for a year. I constantly felt like walking on egg shells around her. And then one day, for some obscure professionalism issue, she forced me into quitting the job. So I quit. And then I became an entrepreneur.

  12. i was working for a woman who ran her own small, home-based business – she made bath & beauty products. it was crystal clear that she didn’t feel comfortable having us workers (there were 3 of us) in her home, but she didn’t want to spend the extra money for an office space.

    once, she came into our work area (the living room) and said accused us of messing with her toothbrush. why? “because it’s wet.”

    another time, she came out from the bathroom and asked “who put a pad in the trash?” she shamed the coworker who had gotten her period and changed her pad while at work, and forced her to change the bathroom trash! i had gone to the bathroom after the coworker, and hadn’t noticed anything messy or disgusting in the washroom, but it really showed how neurotic the boss was.

    sometimes she’d accuse us of “looking at her stuff” – of course we were, because when you sit at a table and tap bubbles out of lotion bottles, your eyes might wander to a bookshelf or paintings on the wall.

    i only worked there for about 4 months. i couldn’t take it! we had inconsistent days – when you came to work, you never knew if you’d be there for 4 or 9 hours, and she would shame me whenever i wanted to take a lunch break. sometimes we’d be in the middle of a task and she’d tell us to leave without finishing. she’d ask me to design systems for inventory, but then never keep up with them.

    it’s been nearly 10 years since i worked for her and thinking about how awful it was still makes my stomach hurt.

  13. I had a boss who would yell at me every time I made some minor mistake. And since he micromanaged me, every little detail that wasn’t perfect was a “mistake” and I got yelled at. For example, if I entered the wrong number in the spreadsheet, I would get yelled at if he just happened to be looking over my shoulder before I could even get a chance to correct it.

    The worst part? I was the only one who got yelled at all the time and he treated all of my coworkers like normal people. On top of that, I was originally promised that this job would be a 9 hour a day deal but we often ended up working 11+ hour days without any extra pay and not to mention another 2 hours of dealing with his yelling. Even worse, like every 2 or 3 weeks, he’d call us in to come in on the weekends, again for no extra pay, and listen to his constant yelling again.

  14. OMG…I had a terrible, horrible boss. She didn’t know shite about anything in the field that I was in, expected me to do all of the things that I had no authority to do, wouldn’t pay for me to get training so that I could have the authtority to do the things that she needed me to do, had no idea how to properly cite sources, and then she took my name off a paper that I’d written and published it without listing me as an author. I quit after a little more than a year, when it became obvious that she was going nowhere fast, and told the others “leave before everything blows up in your face”. Later the following year she got caught up in 2 plagiarism claims and was subsequently fired–for a completely unrelated reason (which, if you know tenure systems, is pretty hard to do).

    In her case, I’m pretty sure that she had borderline personality disorder and there’s really not much you can do that except grin and bear it and then set a quit date. At first I thought it was just me, but eventually I realized that for all my own personal faults she was the one calling all of the shots that made it impossible for me to do my job.

  15. Hi Ramit,

    All is good but would you not stick your crossed leg in the face of your guests please? It looks really odd and gave an impression that you are showing “I am the boss in the room” kind of attitude.

    Your fan

  16. I worked at a bed and breakfast in Missouri and had the worst boss! A husband and wife owned the business. The wife Kate had mental disorders (split personality, etc) and was seeing a psychiatrist but refused to take medication for her illnesses. I decided that I was not going to put up with her verbally abusive comments any longer and found a new job in my major, working as a food scientist (LOVE the new job btw!). I gave her my notice and continued to come to work for the remaining days. One morning, Kate walks into the kitchen where I am cooking breakfast and starts screaming at me to leave, cussing at me and calling me names. Her husband walks in and tells me to stay, that she has to leave. I stand there, frozen, no idea what to do. Kate, who weighs a good 200 lbs more than me, storms over to me and physically assaults me! She pushed me against a wall and kept hitting me! I managed to slide out from under her and run towards the door, barely escaping her. I ended up pressing charges, but she paid off the court so it did not appear on her record. I was unable to find a lawyer to sue…they all said I needed physical proof (bruises, broken ribs, etc) and that her husband’s testimony, which matched mine, was not enough.

  17. Bad boss.. Having to ask for your wages at the end of the week/month.

  18. Definitely keeping this one anonymous. I’ll call my boss Bob.

    Bob was never around except when he was screaming at people. No exaggeration. He’d close his door and you’d hear him go off like a fire engine on some poor bastard trapped in the man’s office. Interestingly, he never screamed at me and even seemed to like me for some reason. 99% of other people weren’t so lucky.

    Bob was also a married man having a pretty open affair with one of my coworkers. She’d sit in his lap at company events and no one else would bat an eye. Obviously, the company itself was a bigger part of the problem. I once saw 2 employees get into a fistfight in the office which HR had to break up.

    One day, Bob disappeared and I learned he was spending a few weeks opening the company’s latest office in South America. He hadn’t told me, and I needed his approval for everything. It was a nightmare, and he wouldn’t answer emails.

    Did I mention that whenever the president did his quarterly visit from Europe, Bob and all the other executives would fudge the numbers so it looked like we were doing better than we actually were?

    All this happened within months of starting the job. I started looking for a new job immediately and escaped to much brighter shores.

  19. Still Pissed Off Link to this comment

    I had a pretty terrible boss, but didn’t realize how bad he was until about 1 year in. During a semi-annual review, he told how great of a job I did, but said he wanted to see more hours out of me. I was working a 9-5 job and he said he wanted to see me coming in early and staying late. When I asked if there was something I wasn’t getting done, he said no you’re an excellent worker I just want more hours out of you. He even ended up telling me I wasn’t getting as much of a bonus as I could have if I stayed late. I was completely pissed off and can still feel my blood boiling even though this was almost 4 years ago! It made me realize that he valued the time put into the job and not the quality of the work. I am ashamed to admit I didn’t quit right away, mainly because I thought it would be difficult to explain why I was at the job for a short time. When I eventually quit, it was a great feeling to be able to turn down his counter offer, even though it was more than what I was going to be making at my new job.

  20. My boss has checked out. She comes to work maybe 2 days a week. She has no idea the work load we are under and doesn’t try to distribute it evenly even after several conversations. she doesn’t want to be here and now neither does anyone on our team.

  21. Stephen Huneycutt Link to this comment

    I was the 1st full time employee of a startup 5 years ago. I was star struck by the owner who sold his previous company for $60M. He had a $1B sale in the works for the $60M company but 9/11 happened and all his orders dried up while the paperwork was being finalized.

    This guy was a genius but had absolutely no social skills. Classic eccentric scientist vibe. The lack of social skills actually helped him during negotiations as he didn’t even acknowledge the behavior going on across the table and just stayed the course.

    He hired me for pennies and stocks. The carrot was to sell the company in 5 years and get a lump sum payout via stocks. After 2.5 years of working my ass off I could see the writing on the wall. The product & service we provided wasn’t scaling and he was willing to promise the world to get the sale and figure out a solution later. He was INCREDIBLE in looking like he was sincerely listening to your complaint /suggestions and then doing what he wanted to do. He would justify his decision/actions by a business equation where half the variables were assumptions he just made up. After 2.5 years I became proficient in deciphering the bullshit variables in the equations during these types of discussions. Finally after he was trying to screw a prospect I blew up at my immediate manager who was a “yes” man and was fired the next day. Best thing that’s ever happened to me. I made more $ in my first year at the next gig than all 2.5 years combined at the previous gig.

    This owner was the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. Never threatening, loud, or abusive. He would listen to your concerns and act like would provide a solution. He was the master of getting you to drink the kool-aid and getting you to work after hours willingly for nothing. Only in hindsight have a I realized how bad he was. He didn’t care about anyone only his company.

    • I really identify with your last paragraph. Now I look back on problem situations and problem people earlier in my career and am amazed I didn’t react faster when the writing first appeared on the wall. As you get more experience (and wisdom), I think you develop a sharper nose for bullshit and a quicker trigger finger.

  22. My last boss was the worst! It went much further then the fact that she was extremely moody, rude and gave me no direction. She was having an affair with the COO of the company and felt a huge sense of entitlement. She would show up late everyday, pawn all the work off on me and would continue to get raises while I got nothing. She would go off on other employees and complain about them so much they would get fired because the entire executive staff would back her.

    I couldn’t help but show her a little attitude every once in a while because she would expect me to run errands for her outside of work (pick up her car from the shop, get her mail while she was on vacation, take care of her dog). My attitude would back fire in my face every time. She also was not qualified to be in the position she was and I could do the job better than her so taking direction from her was frustrating. Once I was able to break away from her a bit my work improved immensely and the hire ups noticed a lot.

    She had a huge shopping addiction and would buy so many designer bags, shows, make up, etc. she’d pass a lot off to me. Then I felt bad because she gave me all that stuff so I’d think maybe she isn’t that bad…but she was the worst!

    Icing on the cake, the company I worked with had all these lavish parties in DC and she’d get drunk at them and try to convince me to have a threesome with her and the CEO. This was after she’d ask me to hold her drugs for her in the bathroom.

    Yup, she was the worst! not working for her anymore, thank goodness.

  23. My boss have me work on a test project without giving my any direction. He reviewed the plans then mentioned how he has an idea in his head of how he wants it to look but this is nothing like that. Instead of giving me some direction or even telling me what he didn’t like about. Instead he asked me what kind of designer am I and why I wasted time on something he can’t present to the client.

    So I’m expected to read his mind and design something that has not even been discussed with me. Really was rude and bad management especially since he is not at all trying to mentor on what changes should be made to make it better. Plus I just started and have no one to help answer questions or figure out ways to improve this plan. This is not the first time this has happened and it’s getting to the point where I’m looking for other jobs in this new city I just moved to from NYC 5 months ago. No one deserves to be treated this way or have their education and 10 years of experience questioned.

  24. Seven years ago, I hit the reset button and started in a new exiting field. I took a new job, with a young company. They had all I was looking for at the time. As expected the company grew, and the guy I had started out working with…became my boss. He had no supervisory experience or training, and an inferiority complex. Having been in many different positions in the past, I thought I could help him grow into a decent boss. Decisions were made as a result of paranoia, every single thing was about proving what a great supervisor he was in the eyes of our CEO. In the end, I realized he was beyond my ability to help.

    So, what do you do? I joined ZTL. Everyday, I write down the annoying crazy stupid things that are a direct result of my job/boss. Before I begin working on the system, I spend 5 minutes using those new frustrating experiences as fuel for my new effort.

  25. I freelance in TV. A lot of skills are transferable from project to project, but every time you start a new show, there is a slightly new culture you have to adapt to. That’s fine, and I will take feedback on my performance, no problem. Buuut…on one pilot I was working, my show runner went email thread crazy nitpicking the most minute detail of my work: formatting of words and font on a slate of an internal export. It wasn’t just one email directed to me. It was one email at a time about each aspect of the slate over the course of several hours. Sent to everyone.

    That was annoying – especially when a show runner has WAY more important things to do – but fine. I appreciated it on some level because I now always create a standard slate first thing when I start a project. The thing that got me to quit though was his total dismissiveness towards my technical knowledge. At an important meeting with the company owner about a potential technical change, he rolled his eyes when I spoke, cut me off multiple times and made some dismissive hand gestures. (I later saw an email where the company owner actually called him out for this!) But the project was just not good enough for me to waste energy working under him, and I quit.

    Disagree with me, fine. Dismiss me, no.

  26. My boss does not know the business he is in. I’ve been doing this for several years. I know what I’m talking about. He clearly does not.

    He is a BS talk pro who signs clients we won’t be able to help, throws tantrums when things don’t go his way, has my colleague book his wife’s personal travels.

    Why do I stay? Because I need to pay rent. But I’m actively looking and sending resumes.

  27. I had a boss in 2009 when I worked part-time as a Marketing Assistant. Upon hire, I was told that in 1 year or less I would be hired full-time with benefits (really good ones too!) and a pay raise of at least 25% after 6 months evaluation period. Excited by the prospects, I certainly did my best to make the department shine.

    About 3 months after I was hired, the company hired someone who was absolutely horrible about hitting on the women. He hit on me many, many times, with very sexual innuendos, both direct and indirect. It made me very uncomfortable so I reported it to HR. When my review came up 9 months later, I was told that I was no longer going to be hired full time, as they were moving the Sexinator (his nickname given by the women) into MY full time position, even though he had ZERO qualifications. I was moved into an 8×10 cubicle to share with another employee, given an even slower computer and no pay raise, and continued harassment by the Sexinator.

    The worst part was that my boss’ boss, who made the decision not to move me up, told me that it was I complained about the Sexinator to HR. Talk about discrimination. So I typed up a beautiful, one-page letter, put a copy on the desks of HR, my boss, and the President of the company, and walked out the day of a major event. It’s only the 2nd time I’ve ever walked out on a job, client or project as I hate doing that.

    I did get a better job in 2009, about 3 weeks after I walked out. But I wasn’t happy, so I signed up for Dream Job and got my Dream Job! Thanks Ramit!

  28. I literally just quit my job two days ago after working there for only 2 months due to the biggest douche bag, ass hole that I have ever worked for. In the 2 months that I worked there I witnessed him make a girl cry because he put her on the spot for some role playing and when she said it made her feel uncomfortable, he told her “that she needs to get her shit together and that 2016 is going to be different than 2015”. If you didn’t do things the right way, without proper instruction from him mind you, then he would belittle you and degrade you in front your teammates. I was talking to a co-worker at his desk about a work related topic and my manager yelled at me to get back to my desk because I “had work to do. NOW.” I’m 31 and didn’t realize that I had to ask permission to leave my desk. Screw you dickhead. The final straw came the other day when during a team meeting he threw a major fit on me in front of my entire team, yelling and screaming profanities at me, all because I forgot to update a field in Salesforce after a deal that I helped to close came in. Keep in mind that we had WON the business and I was a key contributor to the deal coming in, but yet because I forgot to update the amount of the business, he belittled me. So after standing up for myself and throwing it back at him, I stood up and quit on the spot. I have too much self-respect and dignity to let anyone talk to me like that, especially in front of my colleagues

  29. The worst boss I ever had was the paralegal manager at my first law firm. Her position had a major structural problem: she was required to both manage paralegals and do as many billable hours as us. Her solution was to claim our work as her own, write down our hours, and pump herself up.

    At one point, she wrote off the 100 hours I’d put into a project, claimed the 100 hours for herself, and then put me on the watch list for being short in my hours. My job was on the line, and I didn’t have another one lined up yet, so I fought back. I explained my problem to the attorneys and said that I’d do a test to prove what she was doing. I did my next project and gave it directly to the attorneys, explaining that I’d then give her a similar work product–which of course she’d turn in and take credit for–but with a list of errors, since she was too lazy to check. Sure enough, she got caught. And I got off the watch list.

    But she didn’t fight to make her job more reasonable, and she wasn’t fired for causing all this drama. At least four other people had gotten the same underhanded treatment. So as soon as I found a better job, I left. She caused a mass exodus that probably hastened that firm’s demise.

  30. Bad boss story? How about being called “boy” on a daily basis by the owner of Design Science in Philadelphia?

  31. I’ve had several.

    Boss #1 required that I *memorize the sound of her footsteps* so that I could have the key to her PRIVATE bathroom held out for her to literally snatch from my hand as she walked by without a word. She also required 10 full calorie Pepsi’s and 10 Poland Springs bottled waters in her office mini fridge, and only ate sliced green honeydew melon and green grapes that HAD to be purchase from Grand Central Market. My time served before escape: 2 months.

    Boss #2 told me that I personally hurt her feelings and showed poor judgement and immaturity when I asked for a raise at my annual review after a year of exemplary performance. She gave me the raise three months later (when it seemed like her idea and not mine). Once she spent the morning shouting at me for no reason and then gave me a bottle of Veuve Clicquot in the afternoon. She ghosted on the office when she got a Harley Davidson chopper and left her son in charge until the company went under. My time served before escape: 15 months.

    Boss #3 would ask everyone to come to an all-company meeting in the conference room and then call into the meeting from his own office (two doors down the hall) so he didn’t have to see us. He was upset that he was not invited to the 23 year-old receptionist’s birthday party. My time served before escape: 1 year.

    Boss #4 would frequently show people photos of herself as a teenager and encourage them to comment on “how hot she was back then.” She also took a photo of a large, inflamed boil on her upper and very NSFW thigh and sent it around to several people in the office as well as some external vendors. She didn’t believe in budgets because she was “so cheap that it all just worked out.” She told us that she “made data-driven decisions that came from her gut.” My time served before escape: 4 months.

    Call me a millennial job-hopper if you must, but just know that I can never un-see that upper thigh boil.

  32. Shingo Tanishima Link to this comment

    I had a boss who didn’t empathize or understand emotion because he was very process driven. He would keep tabs on me when I didn’t follow company processes and procedures in spite of the fact that I did my job well. I ultimately got written up with a final warning…but he never gave me earlier informal talks that this was bothering him.

    The day he lost me as an employee was when he ignored my request for a stretch assignment outside his department because his idea of a stretch assignment was giving me another program in his department. At that point, I told him I was going to look for another job. Looking back on it, it was pretty stupid to say that to him directly but I was no longer bottling up stress. But, he tried to sway me to stay after I said that…even with his pitches lacking empathy.

    The job search took a while between screw ups and not knowing how to correctly approach it (I didn’t have Dream Job back then), but I got out a year later. I’m in a much better place now (awesome people and a shorter commute) and I don’t think I’ve strayed too far from who I am. The company and manager are more in line with my personality.

  33. I had a terrible boss. The day he met me, he was questioning me about things beyond my control (excess material that was being stored on the receiving dock and in trailers). When I said the front office supply chain continued to order material that we didn’t need, he held that against me. My job was to store and disperse materials, but all of the blunders fell on my shoulders. I could not please this man, no matter what I did. He never valued my opinion or asked for my side of any story. He was on a mission to get rid of me, and this was a directive from the plant manager. I was eventually fired because of inventory issues. And within five months of me leaving my job, the plant manager and my boss were BOTH FIRED!!! So for me, they deserved it and all is well. I’m now an entrepreneur.

  34. I’ve was extremely fortunate to work with a few outstanding bosses–who coached me along the way, gave me challenging opportunities, and made sure that I was well cared for financially.

    I left my previous company eight years ago after 20+ years of service, thanks to a horrible new hire to replace my previous boss. Our division was historically understaffed and I developed a plan to grow our team and easily justified the costs based on the extra sales generated by the expanded team. My boss insisted upon presenting the plan to executive staff himself, which seemed a bit strange but he was a master presenter. Previously, there was immense trust among colleagues. Later I found out that he won approval for the plan, but then hired one of his cronies from his prior company, and outsourced the new team to China–all done without notifying anybody on the team until after it was a done deal. Trust was damaged beyond repair. Although he was popular with executive staff, he was a disaster for the company. The two divisions he managed no longer exist and all that business has moved to competing firms. None of the employees that he hired remain at the firm. A note to companies: A bad hire is toxic to the company’s health.

  35. Terrible boss:
    – micromanager: insisted on changing my decisions, even in domains where she had no knowledge
    – hypercritical: called my creative work “tired” though I did a superior job on a ridiculously small budget; recommended me for a zero-percent raise
    – liar: accused me of insulting a client–never happened
    – credit-grabber: her idea of praise was saying “gold star for you!”; claimed my research as her own
    – jealous: refused to allow me to talk directly to technical people in other departments–insisted on being the go-between in all such conversations; tried to exchange my nice desk for a crappy one because it was better quality than she felt I deserved
    – time-waster: held 30-60 minute “status meetings” literally every. single. day.
    – tech-stupid: repeatedly accused me of corrupting files “because they won’t open in Word any more” (they were actually Excel or Acrobat files); typed full URLs into the Google search box
    – controlling: went searching for me in the bathrooms when I was away from my desk (and asked me why I wasn’t using the one that was closest!); moved around office supplies in MY office because she didn’t like how they looked

    My happiest day in recent memory was the day I was transferred to a new boss who assumes that I’m competent to do my work without daily supervision and meddling and who is generous with praise and credit. (The bad boss has since had two other employees quit on her but is still considered an A player by management, god knows why.)

  36. Michelle Welcher Link to this comment

    I have the ultimate in bad bosses. I had been a principal until last year when my superintendent pulled me into his office and told me he was letting me go. It wasn’t until early this year I found out the true story of why I was let go.

    My daughter shows cattle in jackpots and FFA. I support FFA ( Future Farmers of America) with all that I have. I had been appointed (during my last year as a prinipcal) as a parent to a State Ag Education committee which I was excited about . This superintendent was upset because in my opinion thought I had tried to get onto this committee to derail him. He had been feeling the heat from the local Ag community because they felt he wasn’t supportive.

    When he let me go he also went to the State and had me removed from the committee that I had been appointed to although it had nothing to do with my job. He also requested that he himself take my position and fought with the State to have himself placed on there. I wasn’t aware that any of this had happened. I was very distraught and thought poorly of myself. For the first time in my life I had to take anxiety medications because I was having anxiety attacks.

    During this school year someone from the State stepped up and reported what the Superintendent had done. I had to get a lawyer for the school board to actually listen to me. I am now in a classroom and lost 30K a year all because of a Superintendent felt he had the power to control. Everyone in this town has been scared of this man. So many people have their own stories about him, but were too scared to do anything. We recently won part of the fight and he announced his retirement.

    I have purchased one of your classes and I am currently working on finding an online business that can support my passion. It has definitely been a journey.

  37. I’ve had a number of abusive bosses. I finally figured out that I was unconsciously choosing jobs with the same exact type of boss — with the same personality type as an abusive relative of mine. The realization helped me get out of the cycle, and that was the last time I worked for an abusive boss.

    The most obnoxious thing a boss said to me (he wasn’t one of the abusive ones — he just had no idea how to manage) was when I was pregnant with my first child. He said: “You’re not going to come back to work after your maternity leave. You’re a rabbi’s wife, so you’re gonna be barefoot and pregnant from now on.”


  38. My boss’s boss thought I was a different employee for about 6 months. We looked alike, had a similar haircut, same body types, etc. The problem was that this employee liked to skip out on department meetings. After a number of meetings, my boss called me into his office because his boss wasn’t happy that I was skipping out on all the meetings. I had to prove that I was physically at these meetings and that it was my coworker that was playing hookie. The director didn’t believe me at first, but she eventually realized who we were. Lesson learned: make myself more visible to upper management because staying under the radar can apparently cause more headaches.

  39. My boss would disgustingly flirt with the office manager in front of everyone. He would be unpredictably abusive one minute, and gift you a nice bottle of wine from his $50,000 collection the next. He would sneak up behind you like a vampire while you were working. He was eventually caught videotaping his employees in the bathroom, forced to resign from his professorship, and kicked out of the national board of which he had been the president. He then killed himself before he could be properly tried in court.

  40. My boss sat in her office with the door closed, watching TV on her computer. She was unapologetic. “I’m a sacred cow,” she proclaimed. “They can’t do anything to me. I’m a cancer survivor.” That much was true. She had overcome a bout of breast cancer five years before, and she never let anyone forget it. If anyone disagreed with her, asked her for more work, asked her to explain her lack of productivity, her answer was always the same. “I’m a survivor, you know. Anything…*anyTHING* might set off a relapse. And then I’ll die. And it will be your fault.” The all-male management was terrified of her.

    Despite this, I liked her. We did a lot of traveling for work and spent off-hours sightseeing and shopping together. After working with her for about a year, she turned on me. I never found out what set her off. She started sending me 8-10 page emails telling me how horrible I am. Personally. But never specifically. These emails came in at 11:30 at night. On weekends. While I was taking a vacation day. Never once did she call me into her office to discuss any issue she might have with me. My reviews were good. But she would send me hate mail. Often. And then never refer to them again.

    She would call my co-workers into her office for private meetings, and tell them ridiculous lies about me. That I’d said bad things about them. She forced me turn in an assignment without allowing me to proofread it and then wrote me up because the work had not been proofed. When I tried to talk to her, to ask her what I’d done, to find out how I can improve, she pretended as though she didn’t know what I was talking about, everything was fine, and I must have some paranoia problem. Honestly, it was like “Rebecca.” She encouraged me to start a video department in the company, which I did successfully and then told the CEO that I was wasting company time on building a video department. I thought I was losing my mind. I went to HR, and all Hell broke loose.

    I ended up in the ER with severely high blood pressure from the stress. I spent time in therapy. I never knew where the hate was going to come from next, why it was there, how it started, or if it was the result of cancer medication and I was a jerk for not just being more forgiving.

    I left on my own. She unfriended me on LinkedIn. On LinkedIn! That was in 2013. I have not yet found another full-time permanent job that offers benefits, so leaving was not the optimal choice. I’ve never again had any issue like that, so I’ve come to understand over the years that it was not “me.” I’ve gone on to many high-level contracts with no issues. Sometimes leaving isn’t the best choice; it’s the only choice.

    • My last boss not only unfriended me on LinkedIn, he blocked me. And on all social media, too. Pretty funny!

  41. I fled my last company because of the two people in charge – the president and the COO. The president was a childish emotion-driven lazy idiot who landed in the position because he married well, and managed to stay on as president after his wife divorced him, after which women became The Enemy. Among other things, he loved to “lead” through intimidation, literally brandishing a makeshift bayonet at subordinates.

    The COO was the president’s best friend from college, and the most manipulative, paranoid person I’ve ever met in my life. He loved to play management games, pit people against each other, lie to further his cause, demean people, micromanage to a degree I’ve never even heard of, and take credit for the work everyone else did. Everyone hated him, which he explained away to the president as him making tough choices that were by definition unpopular. When I asked for a raise after taking on two other positions, he asked if I was having money problems. When we had sexual harassment/discrimination training, he drew a chart for the interns of how much a lawsuit would have to cost the company to make up for the “lost work time” in the three hours we spent as a company in the training. He questioned everything I ever said, despite having no experience in the areas I was in charge of. He didn’t believe females should be in the workplace.

    Probably unsurprisingly, the company is now facing a lawsuit after unceremoniously firing the only female executive (who also happened to be over 40 and a working mother) and replacing her with a younger man they’re paying more. Can’t even say how glad I am that I got out before that shitstorm happened.

  42. My boss was laid off. And so was her boss. And pretty much everyone else on my team… Except for me and one other. My superiors’ positions were considered irrelevant, and so I was left For Six Months without any formal leadership. Sounds like an opportunity, right? But it’s a hard fact to face: force of personality will only get you so far when the ground is infertile.

    Then a new VP of Marketing was hired, and I’d had high hopes that she would galvanize us and breathe new life into the company. Throw me a life raft! I’ve been holding the department together with scotch tape. But upon my first meeting with her, I could see that she wasn’t going to be any kind of silver bullet. Two-faced personality barely concealed, curtly dismissing the hard realities we’ve all been facing. And those missing rungs in the ladder are still just… missing.

    Perhaps things are just too far gone. I’m days of negotiation away from finding something new, and it’s really too bad. I have so much to contribute, and now it’s going to somebody else. See ya!

  43. Unlucky Worker Link to this comment

    Horror Story 1-I began working as a cold caller for a tech company after the financial crisis. As many here know, cold calling can be brutal. But that wasn’t my biggest worry. The owner of the company would often yell at me and tell me my problem was “I didn’t have confidence.” Stayed at this miserable place for 5 years, yes 5 years. As it as getting more unbearable I took a part time contract job and was trying to figure out how to leave. I was called into the office and told I would be given a different assignment. I was calling the EDU sector and would now be calling businesses. I knew that it would be tougher to call businesses than EDU and since there was no talk of a pay increase I didn’t think the deal was fair. I refused the deal. I was taken into the owner’s office where he yelled at me for 20 minutes. At one point he threw down his phone. I had to hold back laughter and I wanted to ask him to do that again as that was the funniest thing I had seen him do in 5 years. I was escorted out of the building (walk of shame) but felt like a huge cloud was lifted. Worked 2 short term contracts and this leads me to story #2….

  44. Such an awesome topic!! As much as I agree you should walk away from bad bosses there are times when you can’t. I’ve had loads of bad bosses that I think I’ve developed some good skills in managing them. The first was in my first job in advertising, I needed the experience so had to stay for a year. Another was a few years ago, I think the guy had mental health problems but I need the visa sponsorship so I had to stay and now I have a really nice boss who’s completely incompetent but I have to stay because I’m pregnant. Hey ho, happy to share tips!

  45. Unlucky Worker Link to this comment

    Horror Story #2

    After my nightmare time in the tech industry I took 2 short term contracts. Then found a job in the music industry. Thought it would be great. But my immediate supervisor was difficult to deal with he discriminated against me because of my race–and this will shock people, because I was part white. He also looked down upon me because as a native English speaker, I could speak much clearer than him. He would curse during work hours and talk about his visits to Tijuana brothels. He would also drag his feet during work hours then pour a bunch of stuff on my desk when it was 5:30 and I was about to leave. One time he hide my food on me at a trade show.

    Finally we were having a meeting in the big bosses office. He started talking down to me and I yelled at him to back off and stop harassing me. I thought I was going to be fired. No one talked to me for two weeks which was a relief actually. I was then let go. I filed for unemployment and had to go through a phone interview. Luckily, they qualified me for unemployment even though the employer said I was let go due to poor performance. The employer has to issue 3 warnings and they never even issued 1.

    Happily unemployed.

    But this leads me to my next question, are most work environments toxic or do I just fail to see warning signs in interviews whereas everyone else knows to steer clear?

  46. I was selected as the interim manager for my team. During this time the director decided he should mentor me. Which meant, being micromanaged while doing his work. Then during one of our mentoring sessions I was instructed to better prioritize my work and learn to tell people no. While interviewing for the position, I was asked to provide an honest assessment of my teams strengths and weaknesses. I gave a detailed summary on each of them. I was then cut off and told we were out of time. The director decided not to fill the position and to leave me in as the interim manager. A couple months later I was asked by the director, to take on a project he promised would get done, but I let him know my team was already over saturated and my requests for additional hires were continually turned down. I could not take on another project at this time. We were already working extra hours and with all the work, my teams moral was slipping. Unless we reduced our work in progress or hired additional teammates, I was likely to lose a few of the higher performers. A week later the manager position was filled with one of the directors friends who had been laid off and the project I had said no to was assigned to me. We had three engineers leave in quick succession and I was called into the directors office and accused of instigating their departures, I then gave him my notice. Within a few weeks a couple more engineers left, there were only four of my original team left on staff. Less than a year later the director and all of his cronies were gone and I was actively recruited for the position.

  47. I’m a lawyer, so I’ve had multiple bad bosses. One was from when I was a law clerk. He was a misogynist in the very literal sense. He treated women employees like crap. He would demean us and our work and never gave one word of praise. He went through 14 assistants in one year–all women. However, I never once heard him say anything remotely insulting about a male employee. I quit that as soon as I had an excuse (finals…even though I quit in April).

    My next job was at a law firm once I’d graduated. I worked at a small, two attorney firm. My boss had horrible mood swings. We never knew what kind of mood he would be in from one day to the next. One day I was his most trusted employee with the longest tenure (I’d heard mention of high turnover, but never asked questions because I knew the answer). The next day he was asking me if I had plagiarized a memo. Not that I had ever done that, been accused of plagiarism, or didn’t have a citation after every sentence. This happened multiple times. Sometimes he would explode over little things. I was terrified to ever turn in an assignment because I never knew if he just wouldn’t review it for three months or would insult me. On top of that, he would never be direct about his expectations of me. Were my hours supposed to be hours spent in the office, or billable hours? He told me that was up to me. I was a fresh-out-of-school lawyer. You need to tell me what the expectations are and where the bar is.

    I was at this firm for two years until I found another job. Fortunately my new boss is great, so I’m starting to heal from the PTSD induced by working for jackass lawyers. Needless to say, my new job is not a law job.

  48. My current boss’ “badness” is a large part of why there is an incredible offer on the table for me, but also the reason it might be taken back. Stealing away 8 hours a day of excitement and interesting activity is pretty horrible, in my book. So I think this counts as a genuine ‘horrible boss’ story. I still am unsure as to my next course of action.

    I recently began a new job, and I had the pleasure of watching my new boss communicate terribly with the team and make a string of bad managerial decisions–resulting, of course, in a string of bad outcomes. After communicating my concerns directly, I found that my boss would simply shut down and become aggressive in response. So, I decided to stick my neck out; I communicated several legitimate, logical, function-driven complaints about my current boss to my boss’ boss. My boss’ boss was apparently impressed by this “bold move,” and started asking my opinions on other things. Eventually, my boss’ boss asked more interesting questions, gave me more interesting projects, and started me on a route to a Business Analyst role where I would no longer work under my current boss. (Keep in mind that being a Business Analyst is my dream job, please.) An informal offer was made.

    Strangely, the morning after a negative run-in with my current boss, that offer has been taken back. With the caveat that if I want it, I must continue to report to officially report to my current boss, but informally report to my boss’ boss.

    So–when is it worth it to work under a bad boss for an amazing opportunity?

  49. My current boss told me “We all need to be a little more paranoid around here”. He is not only paranoid but superstitious – always knocking on wood or – when no wood can be located – his head! (seems appropriate).

    He argued against paying overtime for his three employees and hired an attorney to verify that it was required – money better spent paying his employees the overtime due.

    I inquired about bereavement pay for the week I took off when my son died suddenly. He said “you have PTO don’t you?” Well yes, but I kind of hoped to use that for an actual vacation. Then he said he’d check with his attorney about that – and has never gotten back to me a year later!

    I could probably write a book about this character and have many notes to use in case I decide to.

    I often tell people, I would be RICH if I got paid by the eyeroll! LOL

  50. Years ago I worked in a burger restaurant. My boss (the owner) was the cheapest bastard ever. He screamed at me in front of an entire restaurant of customers for making a salad too big. On my first day. One time he berated me for putting an extra tomato on a burger… that was for his own mother! Seriously. Employees got no free food or even any discount. I could go on.

    Turned out he had horrible chronic back pain and no medication would work. The doctors finally suggested he try “herbal” remedies as a last resort (before they were allowed to prescribe marijuana). After that, his behavior completely changed. He was the chillest boss ever! But also completely incompetent. Burned every piece of food he touched and couldn’t even go near the cash he was so high. The restaurant changed management within a year. Good times.

  51. I currently have an awful boss–technically she’s my advisor in an academic program. She’s the type of person who tells you to do one thing, and then when you do it, she criticizes you for it, talks down at you like you’re an idiot, and says you should have done the other thing. When you need to discuss something with her, she avoids you and keeps saying she’s too busy, but then as soon as you take matters into your own hands, she suddenly has all the time in the world to track you down and criticize what you’re doing without offering helpful alternatives. On the other hand, she has a lot of terrible ideas that she expects you to implement and gets extremely offended when you disagree with her. When my advisor is offended, she then becomes very manipulative and goes out of her way to get under my skin by, for example, rehashing things I did that she wasn’t happy with (e.g. there was a meeting I went to even though she provided me with the world’s lamest reason for why I shouldn’t go, and other things of that nature). Nothing turns the tables on her more than to calmly respond with, ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right—I did that.” Every time I do that, she gets this funny look on her face, as if she was hoping for either a denial or anger, and sometimes she’ll even repeat the remark a few seconds after saying it the first time, as if hoping to get the desired reaction the second time around (nope, doesn’t work the second time either). I tried to switch advisors (the final straw was when she canceled a professional meeting I’d arranged without even telling me), but it’s not possible due to bureaucratic red tape. I also arranged a collaboration with another group so that I don’t depend on my advisor for any academic advice whatsoever (a fact which she greatly resents). At this point I have a strict policy of being completely honest about how I’m feeling and what I’m doing (no playing dumb or pretending)—it drives my advisor nuts that I don’t take her seriously but at least I can sleep well at night knowing that I have nothing to hide and that other people have my back. Only a year and a half or so more of this….

  52. My current employer I can’t really say necessarily that’s he’s a “bad boss” since he is genuinely a good person who puts trust in his employees and cares about their well being. The reason I am commenting is because he does have his flaws. He often talks too much which results in over promising and under delivering constantly. He does have good intentions and would love to deliver on all those promises but he never really has the time to follow through with them. He often promises for “big changes”, “great things will come to you in the future (with his help)” and the worst of them all “you’ll receive a promotion and a pay raise of xyz”.

    At my last job, I worked for him for 3 years with those empty promises. I received nothing but pats on the back, never ending compliments about my work ethic, constant feedback saying that I help his business greatly blah blah blah. It only resulted with maybe a 25c increase every year because his ‘accountant said that he couldn’t afford to pay us more’. Woo..

    After 3 years with those empty promises, I finally was able to tell him the truth on why I decided to leave his business. I managed to work for a great company (which was ultra competitive and only offered part-time) for about a year until he recently managed to swindle me into working for him again. Here I am waiting on yet again on some “promises” of a pay increase and promotion… I do have to admit that he has been giving me some great business advice and some time during work to do things like this.

  53. Ah! The memories of that one-really-bad-boss I had make me cringe even now, 15 years later! The man had no integrity, was a penny-pincher and he would use the most insignificant excuse to not give raises when they were due. He manipulated people left and right (I reported directly to him–he was the President) and witnessed all of his games. Oh, he also had no loyalty to his employees so he’d sell you before taking any responsibility or blame. I used to cry like a baby on Sunday night at the thought of having to return there. Anyhow, I got him well at the end. I found a new job then quit, but not before telling him that he owed me a few months pay because he said something racist about Italians (I am Italian). He believed that I had recorded him (I didn’t!!) and was scared beyond his wits that I’d sue him. So off I went with a few months pay which I deserved for all the grief and anguish he put me through. I came across him years later, looking awful. He said that his wife had left him penniless and that the board of directors had fired him. He was also barely employed. Karma? You bet….:-)

  54. I wasn’t so much as one bad boss but two. I was traveling and needed money so I started work at an apple packaging plant. The job was hell to begin with but there were two supervisors where one would come and tell me I am doing the job wrong or inefficiently and make me change and then the other would come along and tell me that way was incorrect, yell at me and make me change to that method. This happened a couple times that day. I quit the next day as I never went back.

  55. When I worked as a waiter, the guy who managed the restaurant had no clue how to actually manage anyone. He did not like anyone standing around doing nothing, which is perfectly reasonable, except that he was actually incapable of assigning real tasks. So on slow days, when there were few or no customers, it was actually much more stressful than on busy days because he expected you to always be doing something but wouldn’t tell you what to do. So conversations with him would go something like this,
    “Waiter, you can’t stand around.”
    “Ok, what should I do?”
    “Do your tables need anything?”
    “What about the task list?” (we had a task list of side work such as polishing silverware)
    “I finished everything on that list.”
    “Um…ok…well you can’t stand around doing nothing…”
    “Yeah, I get that. So, what should I do?”
    “Um…I don’t know…but you can’t just stand around here doing nothing!”
    “Yeah…so..what do you want me to do, then?”
    “I don’t know! You’re a waiter! Go wait on people!”
    The only way to get this to stop was for me to spend slow nights walking around the dining room in circles while carrying a water pitcher. Seriously. I just walked around in circles all night until I ran out the clock. The manager watched me do this and complimented me for “working hard” and “not just standing around.”

    Needless to say, this restaurant eventually went out of business…

  56. I was a 20 something female working for a major networking company (the golden child of the tech industry at the time) in corporate communications. My boss was promoted and a new manager came in below her; however my former boss remained a strong mentor that I had a great personal relationship with as well. New manager HATED this and actually requested that I never go to mentor about an issue, but instead talk to new manager first and foremost. She also told me that I intimidated the older male coworker on the team. My language was “too strong” and my tone too assertive. She asked me to rein it in to make 50 year old male coworker feel more comfortable. W. T. F. After pulling me into her office to chastise me for saying “damn” in a small staff meeting (“SEE?? That’s what I’m talking about!” she said), I walked out, walked straight into my director/mentor’s office and told her I wouldn’t work for new manager anymore. I had a new one within a month.

  57. My current boss is the type who keeps all the projects at his level and parcels out tasks. When he does put you in charge of something, he doesn’t give you the empowerment to carry it out. Shows up at meetings takes over, undermines the path you’re trying to take to accomplish what he told you to do. People call you after the meeting to say they’re sorry for the way he treats you.

    And of course, all the work you do on the tasks he parcels out go to him getting awards, since his name is on everything. You get no visibility.

    Then suddenly, he gets a new person in, puts that person in charge of projects, and installs that person as another layer of micromanagement between you and him. So the few projects and responsibilities you’ve managed to get are not yours anymore, and you’re back to having tasks parcelled out to you.

    Yes, I’m taking responsibility for it and applying for everything I can find.

  58. My previous employer was a know-it-all who refuses opinions and plays the blame game all day long. To top it off, she always uses a condescending tone to let us know how bad we, Gen Y are, in comparison to her generation, the baby boomers. She always criticises us for one thing or another, whether we did it correctly or not. The whole office were extremely demotivated.

    I had my last straw when she started calling me names ‘lousy’, ‘disrespectful’ and ‘calculative’ in a period of 2 days. She even said she’ll rather die than have a daughter like one of my colleague. I immediately resigned from the job and started finding a new one. Thank god for a 3 months notice period. Now I am in a new company, happier than ever.

  59. the owner of the restaurant I managed was a heavy drinker. we had a massive St. Patricks day event a few years back and he and his wife were pounding screwdrivers starting about noon. Finally about 2 am, we were legally obligated to shut everything down, 18 hours after my shift started. my wife (who was there volunteering) was going to help them get in a cab. She calls me panicked a few minutes later because they are raging, blackout drunk and are in their truck insisting on driving home. They slammed their doors on her repeatedly as she tried to stop them so they wouldn’t kill anyone, and called her a whore and a lot of other things. I got over there, and told him he wasn’t going anywhere. He said “yerrr gun leh me go yew sun uvbish”. I reached over and turned off the truck and took the keys, and then he punched me in the head.

    We finally poured them into a cab a half hour later, while they screamed obscenities at us and the driver. They lived about 20 minutes away, but my wife called the cab company the next day and tracked down the driver to give her a tip for what was surely an ordeal. The driver said they were so goddamn schlitzed they couldn’t give her real directions and it took them over an hour to find their place, and when they got out to go “get money”, she waited for about 20 minutes with no result. she got out and knocked on the door, which was still open, and they were both passed out inside.

    to this day I fucking hate st. patrick’s day.

  60. Boss is a power tripping maniac. She’s about a 7 so I made the call to pound her out in the office. B size knockers but a brown bag nonetheless. Anyways, after smashing her a few times, all is well. Also, its great way to round out the day.

  61. As a boss, my worst employee was having someone who was consistently arriving late, and almost always left early. This is ok if you have proven yourself, but that never happened in this case. and the person was <1 year on the payroll. I hated that I was turning into a clock watcher.

  62. I’ve had several bad bosses, but the one who was hands-down the worst ever boss was my chief, while I was stationed in the U.S. Navy.

    Part of my job, as an instructor in a certain unnamed rate, was to hold classes for those who were going to be stationed overseas at various duty stations.

    As part of my duties, I had to be evaluated at regular intervals by more senior instructors.

    After one particular evaluation, my boss found out that I had aced the eval. He then called me over to his desk and casually told me that the reason I had done so well was that I had to have given the evaluator a B.J.

    I was married, and 9 months pregnant. To him.

    Yes, I was married to my boss, apparently some sort of top-secret psychological experiment the Navy was doing at the time. So they put him in my chain of command, usually a no-no. That’s my best guess, anyway.

  63. I had several bad bosses, some had redeeming strengths and I tried to learn from them, so I’ll start with the worst.

    Obese self entitled A-hole is an Austrian creative director with zero talent who got his way around life bullying everyone. He would tear up submissions of ideas and throw them back in my face, throw pencils at me and swear alot and kept saying those ideas were not going to win awards. I looked him up on the internet and realised that he never won an award himself and he was using us young creatives to win awards – and sure enough he was obsessed about submitting our work and then never giving anyone else credit for it. He claimed everything as his own.

    He was smoking, eating and watching youtube videos everyday for the “award winning ads” and he never gave creative direction on what he wanted for clients. He simply tore them up and tore you down so that he could feel superior when in fact it was his own chip off his shoulder that he was so insecure about being found out that he is a fraud.

    Thanks to him I left advertising for good as I realised it’s full of bad frauds like him. He also didn’t have any personal sense of hygiene and didn’t shower for days and stank.

    Boss 2 was gasbag. I was fresh out of college he was kind to offer me a job. He was burping and farting all day and leering at women in the office making disrespectful comments. In our country unfortunately we could not sue for sexual harassment. He was a creative in his own world and unfortunately wasn’t able to give any direction. At that time, he was in the phase of becoming a film maker so all he did was focus on his short films featuring sexy women projects, so he could leer at them and try to pick them up. His jokes were always crass and creepy.

    Boss 3 was a cocaine addict and was always late for work and god knows sleeping with which senior executive manager because she got away with everything and was your typical head of department who knew very little of what was going on, but got the promotions and pay rise every year coasting on the job. I tried to learn the skills of negotiation and selling ideas from her because she was clearly very good at it and had a certain confidence to make up bullshit and sell it all and best of all get the bosses to buy it and raised lots of funds for the team to do great projects. She led in her own way but she basically knew nothing about the job, we cleaned up and covered for her all the time, and she spent all day on facebook and shopping on net a porter. I did all her presentations and she took them to sell to the board, often time clueless, but with a bit of coaching on what to say, she always sold it effortlessly.

  64. A neurotic, sociopathic, micromanager scientist boss forced me out after voicing my concern of using aborted human fetal tissue from 10 weeks to 20 weeks old. After finding out I was looking at another position internally, he moved my computer to a common area and password protected it, turned over all my animal studies to another post doc, and removed my name as second author from the paper in Nature we had been working on for a year on a gene I discovered as part of the cancer pathway. I was let go by email and he had locked himself in his office citing he was too busy writing grants to discuss anything. After I found a new job elsewhere, he called my new boss and told him that he wanted nothing to do with me and had blocked my email address from further correspondence. I think he had some daddy issues or something to act that childish.

  65. I am presently working for my horrible boss. The primary issue comes down to the fact that I’m 99.99% sure he’s a narcissist. He takes credit from other people, talks to hear himself talk, micro-manages, fails at the vast majority of his basic tasks (responding to email, taking care of paperwork), takes bigger projects from others to shine in the glory instead of empowering those under him, and had absurd childish outbursts (I mean absurd!). Oh but you’d better not address those outbursts because you’ll be apologizing for things you never did or said in order to save your hide from a firing!

    Now here’s why I haven’t left -YET…

    First, I’m a single mom so it’s not smart for me to just jump ship in a day and throw caution to the wind. Second, in a small town, you have to pay your dues before you can get in with the people who call the shots. See, I work in the government offices and while I’m not in a very high profile position, I’m building rapport with those who are being where I am. It hit me like lightning the day after Christmas (I was also broken up with on xmas eve, so the universe was trying to yell at me to make a shift)… I’ve always wanted to open up a small community oriented health food store! There’s a lot more to it than just that but let me just say that every time it comes up in conversation, I’m ultra jazzed, my whole body says “yes!” and those who I have passed the idea by here are ready to jump on board and honestly, some of them are trying to rush my strategizing process -which is a blessing in so many ways.

    So what’s the deal? Why haven’t I left yet?!

    Ah ha… There are benefits to staying right where I am for now while I build the right strategy, position the right people, strike the right deals, let the snowball roll down the mountain and grow.

    So yeah, I throw up in my mouth a good bit every time I say “Good morning!”and flash that painful smile. BUT I’m finding ways to let this be an opportunity instead of a wretched curse. There are always going to be shitheads we encounter and not only has my skin grown thicker through the process of dealing with personality disordered, spoiled, grown children, but the hunger for forward motion has been lit. And perhaps the biggest lesson I’m carrying with me is that when I’m boss, I will find a way to empower the people who work for me because they’re immensely crucial in the big picture -and they’re human (why we forget that??).

    So to all the asshole bosses I’ve worked for and the one I work for now, thanks for teaching me exactly how not to treat my future employees and really hammering in how important it is to do well by them.

  66. I asked to go home early on a Friday because I needed a personal day (afternoon really). It was my father’s birthday and he had passed away 2 months earlier.

    My boss’ response was: “Aw, really? We need to get you back on track. You’re staying in the office.”

    Definitely got the hell out of there.

  67. My horrible boss, fits many of the recurring themes: she’s a bully, sabatoges the work of others, publicly belittles all workers, assumes any ‘sick’ person is trying to pull the wool over her eyes, comes to work sick herself (and infects many, ironically we’re in the health field), is more concerned that I might stay 15minutes overtime rather than finish a project, does the work she herself has tasked to others incorrectly and then blames others for why its wrong, continues to brag of things she did 20+ years ago in the guise of ‘teaching’, unwilling to admit any fault or wrongdoing. The worst, messing with employee compensation to make sure as little as possible is paid.
    The silver lining? All the difficult employees that have left and family members we’ve dealt with have individually thanked me for being there with a “level head” and for treating them “with respect”.
    If all goes well, my stay is short and I’ve negotiated my next job for twice the pay and less hours.

  68. I learned the hard way on this one.

    Boss: Emotionally manipulative. Leadership skills and management skills severely lacking. Withholds information, expects mind-reading and likes to bark “well just figure it out”. Really good at diffusing situations, to the point of it being frightening. Refuses to accept (or take) responsibility for anything. (News flash: if you’re a general contractor, *you are where the buck stops*.) Constantly re-historicizing. Blows off clients, appointments, his email, his voicemail. Temper tantrums. Doesn’t like to be contradicted. Ever read any descriptions of gaslighting? Yeah, those apply too. It’s sickening.

    Hired me based on a pack of half truths (or delusions, or lies). Fantastic salesman, that’s for sure. Figures out what will sound good and then promises it to you. Wow, did I fall for it. Boy did I ever. Hadn’t experienced such a thing before. The warning signs were there if I knew what to look for, and I didn’t. (Maybe I’ve been lucky to have decent-to-good bosses and well-run companies.) Tough lesson. Thanks to it, I’ve dodged a couple of other bad bosses while interviewing for other positions.

    My emotional journey has looked kinda like the stages of grief… another thing I wasn’t prepared for!

    Right now: Still there to earn money, collect knowledge and experience, build my portfolio. Actively looking. Proud to say my focus is on building MY value, and it’s finally gotten easier not to waste energy on getting riled up about the bullshit. Most days.

  69. I worked for 3 years on my previous job and things started happening. I was denied previously approved raise in order to help the company stay afloat. It was a temp 3 month measure which stretched to 2 years. Overtime became unbearable and kept accumulating. During April on my last year there I had 80 hours of overtime for which I was offered a week off (and took it) to find out that week was put under my annual leave. When I investigated the matter I found Chrismass leave was also taken of annual leave. Anyways I arranged the meeting stated my case in polite way and asked how we can work things around so they don’t happen again. On the meeting my boss insisted I state my case to my work colleague who was in the similar position.
    Anyways, two days after I was given new contract to sign. Without giving me a chance to read it. I refused. I was called in during lunch time when office was empty and layed off. I said OK. I asked for one more clarification. Why was I the only one in the office whos salary was decreased for two years when everyone else’s has been restored much earlier. I was told that was not true. One more person was in the same position (fact I knew wasn’t true). I said no more questions thanks and goodbye. Stood up and left the room. My boss came storming after me: “are you calling me a f***inf lier? I will make your life miserable for the next 3 months?!” He kept going until he said to me to calm down. I said yes you are a lier I know that for fact. And I’m perfectly calm. I left the office on the lunch break after 3 years and 2 months.
    I found exact the same position in less than 2 weeks. Signed the new contract and left for two months vacation. Got a very good boss with whom I go regularly for drinks and chat. I’m doing Zero to Launch right now.
    Previous company closed in two years leaving other employees on thin ice with no severance payment or anything else. Some people worked there for 7-8 years.

    My biggest mistake? Not asking for my salary back just after 3 months (when it was promised) and not leaving as soon as it started to crap on me.

    Thanks for letting me state this I feel much better now!!!

  70. My boss was a rich man that wanted to start a business in my industry. He enticed me to quit my job and start a new company for him, and offered me 3x my salary to convince me to leave.

    Things went well for about 2 years – we did about 2 million in sales over that time period with almost no investment.

    After that, it started going downhill. He was constantly taking operating cash out of the business to fund his other ventures. He gave his wife company credit cards, and she spent tens of thousands of dollars at stores like Gucci and never paid the company back.

    The business was barely getting by. I would log into our account expecting to make $50,000 worth of purchase orders, but he had wiped it clean save for $1,500.

    I couldn’t take it anymore. He was making me look bad to our business partners. I emailed him, asking him to repay the company so I could keep growing his business. I wanted to do a good job for him.

    He called me 30 seconds after I hit send and told me, “You work for me. I don’t take orders from you. I will never take orders from you. If you don’t like it, you can get the fuck out.”

    I knew from that moment I would never work for someone else again. I left about 4 months later (needed savings) and started my own company, which is now doing 7 figures of revenue annually.

    He’s currently in federal bankruptcy court.

  71. Wow!
    What a great advertisement for Dale Carnegie systems…! 🙂
    No, really, Dale Carnegie changed my whole perspective on human relations, and I’m quite appreciative of Mr Sethi’s acknowledging that these systems are useful.

  72. I worked at a non-profit, which does not have much money. The boss was stealing some of it, but in a very insidious way. She liked to employ her husband for things around the office and then pay him in cash, but with horrendous amounts. For instance the office building has a small garden shed and he fixed it up. She hires him, pays cash, he gets paid a couple of hundred Euros per hour for a Saturdays work, the board of directors never sees the details . Not much, only a bit here and there but not acceptable. The board is in multiple countries, this is an international NGO so they are not quite in connection with the low-level details.

    We got some funding and needed 3 laptops. I was the IT guy and when I signed off the bills saw that we bought 4 laptops, one more laptop than I ordered. I asked her what that was for. After telling me she paid her husband for garden work I pointed out that this was tax fraud, he had undeclared income. “Its my husband, if the tax authorities come looking i can bring the laptop back quickly, they won’t know a thing.” This is at a time I am working 40% and most staff are working at 60% because of lack of money.

    So I lined up a new job and quit a few weeks later. She gave me a bad reference. I complain to the board with the argument that she commits tax fraud, and I get a bad reference? The board then goes “What? Tax Fraud???” We had a little offline talk together with the company accountant (who also quit because she wanted him to hide some financial details) and she was fired soon after.

    She was on the job for 2 and a half years. When she started the company had 7 people, and 4 of them quit in the first year of her taking over.

    My current boss is also a prat. She called me on the day my daughter was born, congratulated me and asked me to do some work for her. The girl was born at 3 in the morning, this was at 10 after a long night. A week later when I took a few days off she called me in to dump on my head because I was not in the office. With a 2 week old infant at home.

    Another one once called me at 3 in the morning because a light went off on an industrial system we were installing in China, and he figured I must have been messing around with my laptop.

  73. Had a boss who was making our department one of the most hated in the company. We are already a cost center so I saw this as an issue. Spoke with the lead sales guy and got great feedback from him on how our dept could improve. Apparently he was impressed w my reaching out proactively to fix an issue that he mentioned this to the CEO. That’s when the problems began. My boss became extremely jealous and sought to undercut me at every angle just because she and her comrade perceived my actions as undercutting her. she seemed to hate the fact that I had a better relationship w the sales guy and CEO than she did. She cut my bonuses, started blaming me for “shoddy” work completed months earlier, decreased my job responsibility in areas where I sought to expand ( I was junior so working my butt off to gain experience ) and even tried to throw me under the bus with our board! What a b—h. But hey – that job taught me happiness comes from within not from your job. And it also taught me that no beezy is worth my misery. Now I’m in a great job and step up to my boss when there’s an issue and we maturely discuss it. Just wish women didn’t have to foster this jealous feeling and seek to undercut other successful women. It’s counterproductive and makes us seem immature.

  74. One boss we had was a total d1ck. We had a party at the office every time he went on a business trip.

    He was fired be the board and left for another company. A few years later we saw the new company he worked for had sued him for more than a million euros and…won! They won! It was truly amazing to see everyone’s hatred for the guy vindicated.

    Sadly, the new company is bankrupt now, mostly because he screwed up.

  75. Wel i would say that im still in this terrible boss story nighmare. And im working on a business. To quit this year. My boss has terrible behavior. She spy on my on the Job and on my personal life. She does not want me to quit my job. So she can practice her evil pleasure of bulling. If i Do she will tell everyone of her connections to block my way. So i would be out of Job. This is just my actual situation. But hopefully i will be free.

  76. There was a project I had been pushing for approval to move forward on for 3+ years that would have significantly improved working processes across all groups in the organization but I was always denied due to the time and resource it would take to implement. 6 weeks before my maternity leave, I was told I would not be permitted to take my maternity leave if the project wasn’t completed, but I was not going to be given any additional resource to complete the project, nothing would be taken off my plate to allow me to complete it myself and I still had to train an intern to take over my job while I was out. I smiled and then at my next OB appointment, I had my doctor put me on disability. While I was on maternity leave, I found a significantly better job, with less responsibility, more resource to accomplish what was in my remit, and a 20% pay increase. I gave my notice 2 weeks before my maternity leave was scheduled to end. Oh and since then, they had to hire 2 people to take over the position and they eliminated one third of the responsibilities.

  77. [FROM $12/HR TO $100/HR]

    tl;dr: Basically, the GM didn’t have a clue what was going on but was the GM because his brother owned the place and gave him a job. I fixed it by bypassing the GM, talking directly to the owner, and finding out what problems he needed solved. Then I repackaged the most successful projects and pitched them to similar businesses for $100/hr using strategies learned in Earn1k.

    Where do I start? I had a boss once who was the general manager of the business, and brother of the owner. The owner was never around, so the GM ran the place. Well, they hired me to do what I thought was website development & maintenance (this was a part-time contract gig), and it turned out to be more “computer stuff.” Fair enough, they were paying me by the hour.

    The GM explains to me that the owner needs all the receipts from the previous year manually entered into a spreadsheet and categorized by payment method and broken out into accounting categories. Something about “not trusting the credit card companies.” I go round and round saying that there isn’t a need to do this manually, but we can run this report from the POS (point-of-sale) in about five minutes. I’m trying to UNDERSTAND WHY he wants me to do this so perhaps I can help solve their problem in a way consistent with my expertise. He didn’t want to hear it. He just wanted me to do what he told me, enter thousands of receipts, by hand, into a spreadsheet (come to find out, he didn’t understand why the owner wanted it done, and thus didn’t actually know what the problem was that needed to be solved. He just heard “enter receipts into spreadsheet” and relayed the message)

    Finally I quit arguing and started the long arduous process (after making them buy a keyboard with a number pad on it). I get through with the first month and ask if he wants to look at the numbers and run it by the owner to make sure I’m doing it right. “No, just finish the rest.” At this point I bring up the fact that there are duplicate receipts and that leads me to believe that there could also be missing receipts, throwing the numbers off. He assures me he checks things after every business day and makes sure there are printed receipts for every transaction.

    Since this is already getting long, here’s the gist:
    – The spreadsheet “needs to be finished ASAP”, so I take the receipts with me out of town to a wedding and work on it in my spare time.
    – I finish the project in a few days and then it sits for months.
    – When the owner finally reviews it, he says it wasn’t done right, because the numbers aren’t matching up.
    – Come to find out, the GM looks at the transaction log every day in the POS and prints any missing receipts. The numbers that “didn’t match” were THE NUMBERS COMING FROM THE POS.
    – When I finally talked to the owner about what he wanted, I showed him how to run a report in the POS in 60 seconds that did what he wanted, and had paid me about for about 100 hours of work to do manually.

    I can tell more stories like this. Basically, the GM didn’t have a clue what was going on but was the GM because his brother was a nice guy.

    [HOW I FIXED THE PROBLEM – $12/hr to $100/hr]

    I fixed it by bypassing the GM, talking directly to the owner, and finding out what problems he needed solved. I slowly started taking responsibility from the GM and doing more self-directed work. And negotiated higher pay based on production rather than just hourly work. Then, I repackaged my most successful projects (that I used to help 3X his revenue) with that business and pitched them to other similar businesses. I went from making $12/hr when he hired me to leveraging it to freelancing for other businesses are about $100/hr (Using what I learned in Earn1k).

  78. Well most employees don’t ever find out what the break is in a relationship and never look to themselves for solutions to “bad bosses”. As a boss I’ve had a good “performers” but they had issues with me because their prior bosses was afraid of them and let them do whatever they wanted and talk to them any kind of way. Or they weren’t good with change because they were complacent. Or they hoarded information ( How can I assist i you misdirect or don’t communicate and only complain. )To them was a bad boss….. to the rest of the team I was the greatest boss they had…

    Look first on what you can do to understand or change…. establish a relationship with the boss if at all possible ( No it’s not the bosses job to be the lone bridge builder ). Learn to align with the directives and HOW to communicate to better processes if they aren’t working. Bosses aren’t aliens ( well most ) and want you to succeed. You may find

    • The screaming, micromanaging idiot that I worked for early in my career took communication as a personal attack. Literally. She gave me a warning because I asked her to stop screaming obscenities to her computer when we had clients in the office. The next time she wandered through the office chanting curse words. We lost the clients, and were hit with series of bad reviews. She blamed me for “making” her have to show me my place in front of clients.

      I am now a senior manager, and have the experience to say this.
      YES, it IS your job to be the bridge builder. It IS your job to help open the lines of communication, and improve them. It IS your job to understand why some is considered a “performer”.

  79. My boss isn’t horrible, but he’s a crappy mentor and I feel like I’m not learning anything from him. I work in management consulting, where there’s huge emphasis on professional development, and I feel kind of duped that on this case I haven’t had many opportunities to progress in my learning.

    We’re also working really short hours (for consulting), and everyone is telling me to enjoy it, but honestly I would love to work longer if it translated into me actually learning something valuable.

  80. I was to drive my boss around for the day while she went shopping.
    Be nice, personable, non-invasive, and always waiting at the curb when she came out.
    Not a problem.
    At the end of the day, she reached into her purse and realized her make up kit was missing. No problem. I had a list of all her makeup brands and colors and could fix it with a trip to Sephora.
    And then she told me that she’d put the two diamond bracelets on loan from the jewelers in the make up bag.
    $15,000 worth of bracelets.
    Frantic calling to all the stores, of course, netted no bag. (I bet someone in the world has them, thinks they are pretty fakes and has no idea what they have)
    I got raked over the coals for not maintaining a “protective energy field” around her. That the loss was my fault and I needed to step up my game.

    • Hahaha. This one is awesome (horribly so, of course). I’ve been around people like that and it’s such a surreal experience, I’ve sometimes wondered if others can even relate. Nice to meet ya.

  81. My boss and I love each other, but I just wish she would pay me $.

  82. 1. Night job during uni processing health insurance – female boss threatened to put us over her knee and spank us if we made a mistake (imagine a man saying that). She spoke like I was her 3 year old. I quit despite the awesome pay and flexibility with uni as I started hearing her patronising tone in my sleep.
    2. Owner of bakery – fired me but she had bad breath and just didn’t like me as I had dyed hair and had funny party stories and the other staff went to Christian youth group. A customer would order 50 assorted breadrolls, I would add up on till, she then would grab the bag off me and redo as she was sure I was wrong. Never was, the customer would look at her annoyed. We weren’t allowed to take leftover unsold food home either, it was thrown out.
    3. I had assistant manager who was super jealous at a newspaper. Manager was pissweak and director dismissed it as women’s business. Basically, I was a temp,w orked arse off and got permanent. The marketing manager created a special position for me, I seem to create my own job in every position I’ve been in that works out. Well, the assistant manager had her friend shove me at the photocopier, used to yell out that I stuffed up to the whole office (turned out she hadn’t read file notes and I hadn’t). She waited until our manager was on annual leave and then went to director to complain. He asked for a couple of us to bring in suggestions for improvements. I typed up a list of ideas I had and was chosen to go into meeting with her. This is how I got this job created for me She went crazy and went into sabotage mode until after a year of her antics, I went from analysing customer data to back on customer care calls.
    4. I took a second job in a pub. Assistant manager liked to drink on job. One night, I was cleaning out dishwasher after close. Everyone was having a knock off and I was still going. AM said he saw me on way to work and the shorts I was wearing made my arse look fat and horrible. He told all his older friends about this and for the next week, they came in pub to check out my arse and comment on it.
    5. Last job -everyone was classified as admin or tech – I was classified as admin and this new Team Leader kept talking about how anyone who hadn’t finished high school could be admin officer and how women should be at home having babies and work in admin as not very intelligent – I was doing web site stuff and content not a receptionist but he seemed to think that. He got a year’s payout when they sacked him.
    6. I was transferred to another boss – who actually was quite good as I got to work on good projects – but she was screwing manager. And was rough as guts. She called me to car park “How old are you? How come you aren’t married or don’t have kids – you’re not a lezzo are ya?” She went on about men in their 40s not being able to keep it up and at my age I could find a fella who could. “Having a kid is real good, you should get one,” she said. She was on facebook all day and complaining to her kid’s school and also messaging our department manager… and bitching about our colleagues to him, referring them as shit for brains etc. Our colleagues stopped talking to me and were wary when she moved me next to her. Then I was pretty much doing her job, and with little instruction figured out it out and realised she had no clue but she was screwing the boss and had pulled several people into HR – so everyone was so scared of her.. My contract finished…

  83. I have spent the last year working for an online start-up. I’m one of their first employees.

    For the first 6 months I worked 60 hour weeks and did everything they asked of me. They promoted me several times and made me a ton of promises about future promotions, bonuses, corporate retreats, etc. They paid me a higher salary than I have ever earned before. It was like a freaking miracle – I honestly thought I had found my dream job.

    And then it all changed one day. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t make any major mistakes and there is no catalyst I can pinpoint, but they just demoted me out of the blue, despite the fact that sales were up and performance was vastly exceeding all our projections.

    My bosses have spent the last six months breaking all their promises. The reason the gave for the demotion was that they wanted to get more involved with the day-to-day management so I wasn’t needed in that role anymore.

    The company was founded by these super arrogant guys who change their minds every week. Now that the blinders are off, I can see them doing the same thing to others, the people I hired.

    Man am I disappointed. I really thought I had a good future with this company – thought I had finally found my place, but, thanks in some part to this article, I have come to the realization that it’s time to look for something new.

  84. I’ve had 4 horrible bosses in the past 8 years, all at the same company, where I work an average of 60 hrs a week. Two years ago, the company got purchased and I thought, “FINALLY!!” Well, after the first six months, the new owner (bad boss #3) seemed to have a complete change of personality and I was beginning to take steps to look for something else. Jan 5th, bad boss #3 was forcibly retired. I thought, “FINALLY” because the new boss had come and asked his General Manager (me) what was wrong with the company, and I told him Bad Boss #3 was a poor leader. I spent all of January training the new boss and giving him the Vulcan mind-meld for everything I knew, and then the last Friday of January he let me go, saying, “I plan to be much more involved and we don’t need a GM”.
    The irony of all this was that I had been vacillating all week about enrolling in ZTL but I don’t have a lot of financial reserves and I have a little credit card debt, so I didn’t enroll. And now I’m unemployed.
    I think my plan needs to be to find something, get my debt paid off and some reserves built up, then figure out which Ramit class to take.

  85. Great post, I enjoyed it. It rings true for many people!
    I had a bad boss who had narcissistic personality traits. She would control me and make me feel bad when I’d do the smallest mistake. The worst thing she did? She allowed an employee (my colleague) to be abusive at work, so I would walk around him like on eggshells. Saturdays and Sundays were torture, I would start thinking at Monday morning early on.

    I’m in therapy because of that job. I quit when I noticed that my anxiety was too high for me to handle. I’m now working for my blog and trying to find a part time job to support it.
    Nothing is really worth it staying in a job that drains you emotionally!

  86. One of my past bosses must have been at least a sociopath.

    She screamed at me often, talked bad about me behind my back, strung me along and tried to slap me across the face because she was upset that my shift was over and hers just started. If I hadn’t backed away, she would have slapped me several times.
    It seems like one of my past bosses is truly at least a sociopath since she physically assaulted me at work.

    She was manipulative so she was able to easily turn people to her side, like our HR rep, who told me I must have done something to deserve being slapped.

    I ended up with panic attacks. I took a sick leave, then quit immediately after it was over. I now run my own successful business.

  87. I’ve had all sorts of degenerate bosses over the years, and most recently escaped from a troika of loser bosses.

    These three winners, shit on all my proposals, repeatedly undermined me when disciplining subordinates, repeatedly assigned me tedious tasks well below my skill level, and finally attempted to liquidate me and my team during a surprise “inspection” at 4am (we worked overnights).

    Instead of packing my bags and heading for greener pastures following the 4am raid, I instead went looking for scalps. I put together a list of all our outstanding OSHA violations, inspected areas of our operations under my bosses’ direct supervision for problems, and started pitching the three of them projects that they HAD to approve just to avoid serious fines for regulatory compliance lapses.

    In short, I cocked the hammer on my metaphorical gun, put it to their heads, and made them fear the forward button in MS Outlook; much of the stuff I uncovered I took the fight to the enemy and won some peace for my guys.


    1. The crap


      1. The actual technical crap we do at work often takes a back seat to politics. Management’s alleged commitment to ‘boosting shareholder value’ is all to often a great big lie sold to the worker bees. In the boardroom, soothing the fragile ego of some jerkoff VP trumps the shareholders

      1b. Office politics are important, and exclaiming ‘this is bullshit’ whenever they rear their ugly head isn’t a viable solution.

      2. Even if you out maneuver, eviserate, and neutralize your crappy bosses, you’re still a loser with a crappy job and second rate bosses who are now mortal enemies.

      3. Don’t work for a shitty boss in order to avoid being perceived as a ‘job hopper.’ Impressing a bunch of assholes in HR with your crappy job survival skills isn’t worth it.

  88. This happened way back in 1999. I had joined a reputed IT company after college and was very excited to be working there. However my excitement soon faded as the person I reported to was a nut job. He wanted me to tell him what I did all the time. He used to actually hit my hand when I did not understand something. The last straw was when he told me I was spending too much time in the bathroom and that I should log the time I go in and the time taken there. Get this, he told me my work was good but my behavior was not and that no one in that whole company (size 10000) had behaved the way I did. I had no idea what I was doing so wrong, so I walked into the cabin of his boss and asked him to please tell me what I was doing wrong. He told me that it was not me and the guy in question was a bit strange. I complained about the hitting and told him I would report it if he did it again. Long story short the crazy man was transferred elsewhere.

    Same company fast forward a few years later. I had now started to enjoy working here. Another boss who was there for a short while. Whenever he talked to a female employee he stared at their chests. I mean seriously just stared. So all of us girls took to covering ourselves up. But soon the guys told us how uncomfortable they felt talking to him as he stared at their privates!!!!!!

    But I learnt a lot about human behavior and how to deal with people from working there and would never trade that for anything.

  89. When I was very young I worked as a clerk for a small engineering firm. The engineers were nice and normal (for engineers) but not the owner. He was kinda nuts. Still, his eccentricities could be ignored for the most part, except when any of us pointed out any errors he made (which we had to do, or else the client might notice them). He would lose it. Sometimes he would scream- not necessarily at us, but if it was the same person who consistently was pointing out errors then yes, at us.

    Sometimes he would snatch the document out of a person’s hand and crumple it up and throw it away, without really looking at the error (which he needed to do, to fix it). In these situations, especially if there was more than one error, we had to go pick it up, and uncrumple it to show him. THAT felt pretty demeaning, even if again, he wasn’t really yelling AT us. We tried to joke about it with him, turning the cliche don’t shoot the messenger into A VERY TIRED CLICHE around the office, and also tried to find other ways to say it. Finally the engineers (who received a less intense version of the same abuse) began to confront him and sadly for them, the end resolution was he turned over more of his work to them.

  90. I’ve worked at 7 organizations in my life and I’ve had a lot of mediocre bosses, but I would only describe one as bad. I was a freshman in college at the time and working at a grocery store. One of the managers I worked for was both a pathological liar and the most bipolar person I have ever met. To top it off he was somewhat incompetent as well. When he was in a good mood life was great and you got to listen to his ridiculously unbelievable stories and just roll with it, but when he was mad he would insult you and yell at you for stupid stuff that wasn’t even always your fault. I always looked at the schedule and dread when we worked at the same time. Often he would call people in and beg that they come to work and lie to them and tell them that they needed people. Then when you got there he would rearrange the positions and go home. He did a lot of other stuff, but I’ll leave it that.

  91. My boss was running a successful business from her home and wanted to start an alternative newspaper. I was hired on to help design the new paper. It seemed like a near-perfect job initially. My quirky boss and my new co-worker were really interesting. We soon discovered, however, that my boss and I didn’t speak the same design language (clean and simple design meant very different things to each of us) and we both got increasingly frustrated over the next few weeks as I learned how eccentric she actually was. She rarely left the house and had extreme mood swings. She even stopped speaking to me on two occasions, responding to my direct questions through my co-worker. I began having problems with sleep and IBS, and I’d just decided to quit as soon as the first issue was out (about 2 weeks later), when she fired me over the phone. She didn’t even let me go back inside, though she did send my co-worker outside with my things when I came to the house. My co-worker, who worked her butt off and had been there over a year, was fired just a few weeks later for being my boss’s “biggest expense”. I only worked there 6 weeks, but it was a very long 6 weeks.
    (I have learned how to better communicate design to non-designers, which has helped me in my freelance work, though I would still have a very difficult time working with someone like my former boss again.)

  92. Great post and nice comments above. I’ve had so may bad experiences in the past its shocking. Decided in 2001 to never work for anyone else again and haven’t looked back. I left a professional buying position to become a dog walker. My friends thought I was crazy, until a built the biggest company in London and was earning twice as much as my previously salary and only working 11-3.

  93. A few years ago, the company I was at had massive layoffs and I found myself suddenly without a job. Eager to get back on the horse, I shortly thereafter landed what I thought would be a dream job…until day 1, when I heard my boss (and the CEO of the company) verbally berate two people on two different phone calls, then throw a book across his office.

    “I’ll just keep my head down and do good work” I thought. Yeah, right — dealing with a psychopath is impossible even if you do the best work ever. It took him two weeks to lash out at me (over something SO minor it was laughable)…and instead of sticking around, I simply walked out of the office, emailed HR, and said I didn’t think the company was a good fit for me. I was giving up a paycheck, the ability to get back on unemployment, and had to start job hunting again…but it was worth it to not work in a toxic environment for one moment longer!

  94. I worked as a VP at an agency for a long time. My boss was 6’5″ and used his size and booming voice to intimidate people and constantly stir up drama. There was once a stretch of about 6 months where I swear he set the personal goal of making at least one employee a week break down into tears As in, if he didn’t succeed the first time, he’d come back for round two (let’s hear it for determination).

    He also used to pit employees against each other.

    We were on salary, and one February he tried to short our paychecks because February is a short month; therefore we obviously hadn’t worked as much. (Forehead. Smack.)

    My husband has a really solid job, and so my boss rationalized that I didn’t require bonuses or as many raises as my subordinates. Because, I mean, my husband could take care of extras, right? I am aware of this rationalization because he told other people about it. One time, at a client lunch meeting with a studio exec, my boss excused himself for a moment, and the exec leaned over to me and said conspiratorially, “You must love that your husband makes six-figures. I hear he takes good care of you.” (What the F***?)

    At another client lunch, he brought up topics surrounding (in this order): religion, sexuality, race, and politics. (Hand to God.)

    We were allowed to bring our dogs to the office certain days. One time his dog peed on the floor, and my dog got banned for (obviously) causing the tense situation in the first place. Seriously. My dog and I both got yelled at.

    He used to talk about the staff’s bathroom habits. And outfit choices. And weight.

    This isn’t quite as cathartic as I had anticipated (haha). Mostly I now want to punch myself in the face for staying so long. In all honesty, the actual work was very rewarding. I think I also felt like I’d hung in there for so long already, and devoted such a big chunk of my life to this place, I was just determined to make the damn thing work. I now see the errors of my ways.

    But I’ve got stories for days now. For dayyyyyys. That’s got to count for something.

  95. I once worked for a City Ward Councillor in our Nations Capital. I was a junior assistant, quite young, and had been interviewed for the job through an employment agency. Primarily, I was to answer phones, help with public meeting set up’s and tear downs, collect phone messages etc. Nothing too difficult. The job description itself could be completed with one’s eyes closed, but the energy in the office would have crippled the calmest, most centred of individuals.
    One example in particular, a public student came to interview the Councillor on her job. The student also asked if the Councillor had any Children. By the time time the Councillor was through letting the student know that choosing not to have children was not only anyones choice, but a terrible idea, the student left in tears, and the Councillor came out to tell me “Never waste my time with a stupid (ahem C word) again”. This Women was powerful, and the only option for my own sanity was to quit the job. I didn’t feel like I had let her win, I felt that I had taken care of myself, and made myself available to work for someone that would be respectful.
    It amazes me how people with such brash character, can be so charming publicly, all the while stepping on all those who work hard to make them shine:)

  96. I once worked at a place where I was underpaid and was working 2 positions for that pay. Not only that, I was also gossiped about and under appreciated. I worked there for a long time. One day I sat my boss down and asked for a ridiculous raise and he laughed and said I can’t do that so then I laughed and then quit. I went on and started a catering company and am on my way to getting paid to travel.

  97. I once worked for a boss who moved into a stable department that had functioned well for years and decided that uprooting everything was the way to make her mark and shine in the eyes of those higher up than her. Through a combination of political manoeuvres she systematically made everyone’s jobs worse and worse by giving them more to do, making the jobs that we had to do harder and harder until eventually they just couldn’t be done in the times allocated or to the standard of perfection required.
    All this was accompanied by constant put downs, an attitude of contempt whenever she spoke to us and references to various incompetencies that we were all guilty of after she had sabotaged our workloads. In addition to this she was a thoroughly unpleasant person. She insisted on smoking around the young people even though this wasn’t allowed. She deliberately engineered an affair with her husband while he was married to someone else and broke up his family; freely admitting that she had decided she wanted him. What she thought of as plain speaking was unnecessary rudeness and she seemed to think that her position as boss meant that she had to upset someone at least once a day.
    Within two years of her arrival three members of a seven person team had left, one more had retired early and another had transferred to another department. The results went down dramatically and the department was deemed to be failing.
    I was on medication for stress and working a 60 or 70 hour week every week. The boss’s boss sent me to another establishment to find out why their similar department was flourishing when ours was failing. I was supposed to write up a report on it and suggest ways to improve our department. This other department were happy, supportive, well-staffed and appreciated. It really upset me to realise what my dream job had become so I wrote my resignation at the bottom of the report and left without a job to go to.
    I kid myself, and tell others, that the years of temporary work that have followed were by choice and, honestly it has worked out quite well for me but the money has never been as good and there has never been much choice about where I go – I need to go where I’m needed, wherever that might be. To this day I’m still angry about the career I missed due to this woman’s bitchiness. The place I worked missed out as they were left with a failing department, our customers missed out, other members of staff missed out too as they left their jobs or remained in a poisonous atmosphere. So much damage to massage one person’s ego.

  98. My first PhD advisor was a new faculty member intent on tenure, and he took out his anxiety by sitting next to me during all of my scientific experiments and micromanaging my work. After about a year of this, during a period of a few weeks when the experiments weren’t going as planned, he sat me down and told me that not all people were meant to get PhDs, but if I really wanted to stick it out he wouldn’t kick me out. I thought, ‘What’s the point of having a PhD advisor (or any boss) if he or she isn’t going to advocate for you?’ Devastated, I sat down with another faculty member to figure out what to do next. That faculty member accepted me into his lab in a heartbeat. Several years later, after multiple high-impact, first author publications, I received my PhD. Using Ramit’s DreamJob course, I received multiple competitive job offers and my PhD advisor not only gave stellar references to the hiring managers, but he went out of his way to find jobs for me as well. Changing advisors at that critical point in time paved the way for my career.

  99. My boss is actually pretty good, but my one complaint is that he measures value based on age and credentials. I’m young and don’t have a MBA, therefore I’m not worth the (reasonable) salary for which I made a case. After explaining the value I bring to the company (I even calculated how I cut out frivolous expenses worth $20,000 more dollars than my own salary), my boss tells me, “I didn’t make that much money when I was your age.” He was my age 20 years ago. He worked in a completely difference industry. Regardless of both factors, what does that have to do with me?

  100. The issue I have is that I did have a nutty boss and complete relate, however since I have now been in the company for 7 years I have now been promoted…. I just hope my staff don’t think I am now the nutty boss!

  101. Not my boss so much, but I feel this way about some of my students. Haha! I work as an aide in an emotional disability classroom in a public school and there are five boys 10-12 yrs. old. They complain about doing schoolwork several times a day, wanting to play computer games and watch youtube instead. They even through stuff around the room and rip up their papers. It’s very frustrating at times.

  102. My boss does not know how to lead. Everything either gets done by him, because he says he doesn’t trust anyone else to do it correctly. But I think its more based on he doesnt know how to do it so can’t ask someone to do it because he can’t give instructions or hide his mistakes. He never gives any feedback and is always lacking in being present when we need him.

  103. I started working at a movie theater the summer after I graduated from high school. The general manager was a nightmare to work under–constantly late, always taking smoke breaks, cell phone always glued to his ear, etc.

    That was back when film was beginning to be phased out of theaters, and he and the assistant manager would take care of building the prints for movies every Thursday night. They came in drunk one Thursday, and built one of the prints with a reel in the middle backwards. So halfway through the movie, boom! No sound, and the picture is upside-down and about half an hour later than the scene the customers had been watching.

    Boss refused to answer his phone or respond to voicemails left about the problem, then was upset that I’d given every customer passes to come back and see another movie for free AND canceled the next two showings so we could break the print down and rebuild it properly.

    The final straw, though, was when I knocked on the office door and he opened it with a gun aimed straight at my face. Looking back, I can’t believe I put up with the BS for 10 months.