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How to Survive a Bad Boss

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the stainless-steel-pants-to-cya dept.

Businesses 148

Lam1969 writes "Computerworld has a three-page spread on how to deal with bad bosses. A common type is "the overgrown technologist who gets rewarded for brilliant technical work by being promoted to a position for which he's not qualified." Another type reported by a reader is the boss who's in over their head. The article says some bosses can be "fixed," but at other times it's better to hunker down or cover your ass so the bad boss can find other targets."

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In Summary (3, Insightful)

biocute (936687) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542304)

The article seems to imply that most bosses don't change, yet it's suggesting workers to change job.

I believe a common scenario is some people have bad boss, and they just live with it and see who retires first.

Re:In Summary (3, Interesting)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542378)

The article seems to imply that most bosses don't change, yet it's suggesting workers to change job.

The article seems to focus on the "overgrown technologist", seems he's the kind of boss that will go away in 6 months to a year and be happier for it; a better article would be how to deal with an abusive boss that upper management likes. They are often blind to the negative impact a boss like this can have on an organization.

Re:In Summary (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542628)

They are often blind to the negative impact a boss like this can have on an organization.

Absolutely true. I left a company that I worked for after six years because the new boss insisted on doing things his way or everyone can take the highway. (Not that his way was any better than the normal way.) Upper management loved him since he got the numbers in no matter how many people he stepped on in the process. I was the third person out of a dozen senior staff members who left during the first year of the new boss. You would think that losing that much talent would forced upper management to reconsider. They did. The new boss became the new director. Go figure.

Re:In Summary (2, Insightful)

misleb (129952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543035)

I hate to be the one to suggest it, but perhaps you were more "senior" than "talent." I mean, if he was getting the numbers, maybe he was doing something right. Unless, of course. he was simply pushing you too hard and causing people to burn out. I'm not sure what you meant by "stepped on."


Re:In Summary (1)

Richard Steiner (1585) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543557)

Who says this managers actions had anything to do with the team being successful? It is a possibility that his underlings were getting things done in spite of his actions.

Re:In Summary (2, Interesting)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544034)

I'm not sure what you meant by "stepped on."

When I left the company, I had worked 12-hour days for 28 days straight because my boss demanded it. Never mind that the company policy say that I should only work six days a week and HR was looking the other way when I complained about the situation. That's being "stepped on" while getting the numbers.

Re:In Summary (1)

Jaknet (944488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543264)

I think thats a case of he's no good so it's easier to promote him out the way than sack him. A way of management I have never managed to head my head round but it seems to happen at times. I'm not sure how it is in the USA, but here in UK it can be a ***pain to sack someone at times...gone are the days of going "your sacked" without very good reason and even then it can drag on for ages, esp if they are the sort of people who believe they are "perfect" and never wrong

Re:In Summary (1)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545046)

My company's standard contracts state that they can be terminated by either side for any reason at any time. We still have crappy management. I think theres this general misconception of what 'good' management is, and it just keeps perpetuating, like some of those urban legends.

RE Bad Boss (5, Insightful)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542331)

A main problem I have seen with hiring from within is that many people who are VERY good at their jobs and have a lot of skills have no management skills.
Like it or not you can be the best (fill in the blank: engineer, developer etc) and still be an awful manager...
On a related note, in one of my first jobs, I was yelled at for not stapling reports with the staple at a 45 degree angle to the side of the sheets.

Re:RE Bad Boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542614)

Had they already instructed you to staple the reports in that fashion?
Did you not listen to what your boss asked?

Yes and yes? Then you are the problem. Yes, they may ask you do to things that are silly to you, but they sign the checks.

If you're not happy with the 45 degree rule, you can leave.

Re:RE Bad Boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542809)

I hate to go so far offtopic like this, but I have to agree here. Even moreso considering that such a rule likely was intended to make it easier to read the documents so stapled. I've seen people staple papers in such a way that you can't fold the top page over without having the fold intrude into the content of the page, forcing you to either keep flipping back and forth or hold the top page out of the way with your other hand while you read. A little experimentation demonstrates that stapling parallel to either edge causes a much larger fold than stapling at a 45 degree angle.

Re:RE Bad Boss (2, Insightful)

el americano (799629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543220)

Yelling at your employees is generally bad management. For staples, I think even a "talking to" would be too much. They should just ask him to do it over if it's important to them. They could follow up if he still doesn't get the message.

You're obviously not a manager. It is hard for us to find employees. So, a manager who runs people off because of their stapling technique will dealing with the much more serious problem of new employees who don't know the job yet. Hmmm... which one is going to affect Q1 results? The guy who doesn't staple reports to your preference or the guy who's not up to speed and can't give the report on time?

TFA is about people with no interpersonal skills who shouldn't be managers. In other words... it's about you.

Re:RE Bad Boss (3, Interesting)

sconeu (64226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543136)

I was asked by my boss (company owner) if I could take over a management (actually just a group lead) position, that would entail scheduling and other management functions in addition to my technical work.

I told him that if he really wanted me to, I'd do it, and do my best at it, but that it would most likely be a "disaster of biblical proportions". Yes, I actually used that exact phrase. I told him that I'm well aware of my limitations, and that it would be a good idea for someone else to take the position. Luckily for me and for him, he listened to me then.

Re:RE Bad Boss (3, Insightful)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544274)

Every month or so, my managers ask me if I would be interested in a Team Lead position as well, and every time I turn it down. The reason they want me to lead a group of programmers on projects? Because I'm good at writing code.

What they fail to see is what I see every day: I do not work well with others. I hate being interrupted with phone calls, emails, people dropping by, and I don't like being responsible for what other people do. I generally don't like people at all, to tell you the truth. They're annoying. I'm also very disorganized, and my train of thought can be very difficult for other people to follow - excessive free association combined with inability to express ideas in an easy to follow format, at least when speaking.

To be an effective manager/leader, you need to be able to deal with people and you need to be organized. For some reason, they see Programming Manager as the Next Step above writing code, when, in fact, they should be looking at people in project management. They have the skills necessary and the experience.

I've told my management this many times; Yes, thank you, I appreciate the fact that you think so highly of me, but I would be a complete disaster. Here is why... Here are some other people who might be better suited...

But, they never seem to listen. I don't want to become one of those people who exemplify the Peter Principle. I don't want to make an ass out of myself. I don't want to screw over my fellow coders (They may be annoying but they're nice people).

Ideas? I don't want to be rude about it, but I do want to get it through their thick Pointy Haired Skulls that I Would Be A Crappy Manager.

Re:RE Bad Boss (1)

EngMedic (604629) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544629)

A friend and I are of the opinion that should either of us attain a management position in a company, we must immediately strive to hire the other - not because we're capable of good management. Quite the opposite. We figure at that point, the company is totally doomed, but it will be an awesome, Aero-chair filled ride down to the bottom.

Best Bosses? (1)

serodores (526546) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545169)

On the other hand, I don't know any of the best bosses that aren't at least technical savy enough to understand what their employees are actually doing, to the point that they could do it themselves. Some of the best "bosses" I've had have been professors in graduate school, since they have much more of an inkling on what's going on moreso than I've experienced just about anywhere in industry.

Works for large companies... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542348)

...but unfortunately, in my experience, it's the small businesses that have the worst bosses, and in that case, there's no getting away from them because they own the company and the number of alternative targets for them is limited.

It's all very well saying "focus on the work", but the whole problem with bad bosses is they won't let you do that, whether it's by micromanaging you, constantly interrupting you, forcing you to change technical decisions, or just plain giving you the wrong work to do. I'd rather have a boss call me names every lunch break than a boss who seems friendly but fucks things up when I'm trying to work.

Work for small companies... (4, Insightful)

zx75 (304335) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542592) my experience, I've only ever had trouble with bosses in large companies. Be it absentee bosses who would rather leave you to your own devices without any sort of direction, or micromanagers who prefer to "drop-by" 20 times a day.

Generally at small companies you can be on much better terms with everyone, be friendly with everyone you work with and you can resolve issues instead of ignoring them or hiding from them like this article suggests. I've worked for a number of small companies, and have been fortunate that each of them has been a wonderful experience, and the people I worked with have all been team-focused and aware that if a team isn't working well together, that's going to be a great hinderance to the success of the business.

On the other hand, there's always a feeling of inertia around large companies. That your co-workers are just the people you run into at work and shouldn't be anything else. A bad boss can get away with how they are because they only worry about how their superiors see them, and then could always fire you on a whim if they wanted should they feel threatened.

Re:Work for small companies... (2, Interesting)

freeweed (309734) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543392)

So long as the small company isn't family owned.

There is no boss worse than the boss's kid, if s/he hasn't been brought up through the ranks properly. I've experienced this (straight to V.P. 6 months after finishing college), and it's by far been the worst boss to work for. The company owner was an amazing boss, but his children just didn't seem to have a hot clue about anything. You can't just plop someone in a desk with the attitude of "I'll own this someday, so everyone should listen to me".

I was in this particular situation just as we were doing our Y2K upgrades. It got compounded by the fact that the kid thought he was an IT guru because he knew how to burn a CD.

Personally, I'd take government work over working in another family owned business. And that's saying a LOT, as anyone who's worked for the government will attest.

Re:Work for small companies... (4, Interesting)

swillden (191260) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543575)

Generally at small companies you can be on much better terms with everyone, be friendly with everyone you work with and you can resolve issues instead of ignoring them or hiding from them like this article suggests.

Keep in mind, though, that this is only true if your boss is a reasonably rational person. Small companies are owned and dominated by entrepreneurs, who are often eccentric enough that true nutjobs can fairly easily hide within their ranks. I've worked for some doozies.

Lessee, I worked for one guy who never worried about the flaws in his business plan (which, granted, were not obvious to the casual observer) because he'd had a vision from God that told him his company must succeed because he was doing God's work. He was smart enough to keep his mouth shut about this claim, but when one of my coworkers found some papers describing his vision, many things made a great deal more sense to us. I wonder if God also told him to buy his daughter a new car with the month's payroll budget (all of it!)...

Another guy I worked for suckered a normally shrewd businessman (David Neeleman, CEO and founder of Jet Blue) into starting an Internet business back in the mid 90's. Each of them put up $500K... but after a few months Neeleman realized that his supposed partner was penniless, and he had blown most of Neeleman's $500K on extremely expensive hardware. Not only did the nutjob (and he was CRAZY) extort some more cash out of Neeleman to make him go away... shortly afterward the office building BURNED TO THE GROUND, with all of that expensive hardware inside -- except that investigators could find no remains of the hardware. Everyone knew what must have happened, but there was no proof. I personally looked through the remains of my office and found what was obviously the case of the ~$2K PC, but no remnants at all of the ~$15K SGI workstation that had been sitting right next to it.

I had another boss who was basically a good guy, but was just unable to handle the stress when his business didn't go well. Since he'd put everything he had into it, he got very, very stressed out when it looked like it was going to fail, and he took it out on everyone who wasn't working more than he was (and he was only sleeping like four hours per night).

I've also worked for some really great small-company bosses. My experience with small companies is that, on average, they're no better and no worse than big companies. But the standard deviation is much, much larger.

Re:Works for large companies... (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543431)

Works for large companies... ...but unfortunately, in my experience, it's the small businesses that have the worst bosses

Personally, I've only had three real corporate experiences myself:
1) A small company where all of management was rotten.
2) A small company where all of management was wonderful.
3) A large company where a few managers are great but most are rotten.

In my experience (and based on my friends' tales), in a small business you either get all horrible managers or mostly great managers. There's less bureaucracy for a parasite to hide in unless the entire bureacracy is made up of vermin. Small companies strongly attract management of the same temperment -- either complete sleaze or responsible, non-nonsense people.

Large companies, especially when working through several layers of contractors, are a real grab-bag. The petty and vile can isolate themselves from good management and vice versa due to the sheer size of the organization and the impossibility of VPs knowing all the managers under them and vice versa. When there are multiple layers of cogs in the machine above the grunt workers and multiple departments working on different products that don't talk to each other at all, what you really have is a slightly melted together stack of small companies, each with their own ethos.

If you work in a small company, your manager is scum, and you feel that the whole company is rotten, you're probably right. Get out -- right now -- and go find another company to work for. Personally, after I spend a couple of years bulking up my resume at my current job, I'm back off to small company land, and I'm never looking back (less I turn into a pillar of SOX). There's usually less money in working for small companies, but there can be a lot more peace of mind if you don't land in a snake pit.

Do what they do... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542359) the USPS and kill 'em!

Re:Do what they do... (3, Funny)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542473)

Sure you're not confusing "mailmen" with "Klingons?"

Re:Do what they do... (1)

_intrepidhero (669440) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543020)

That is the funniest slashdot comment I've ever read.

Getting promoted to your incompetence level (5, Interesting)

`Sean (15328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542407)

My father used to be a Dale Carnegie Course [] instructor and always talks about workers getting promoted to their level of incompetence. The basic theory in a huge unchecked corporate environment is that when a worker starts doing their job too well they get promoted as a reward for their hard work. When they learn their new job and start doing that job too well they get promoted again. Eventually they get promoted to just above their incompetence level and spend the rest of their lives floundering as a middle manager getting made fun of by their subordinates.

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (5, Informative)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542434)

talks about workers getting promoted to their level of incompetence.

That's called The Peter Principle []

How about just raising their salary? (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543649)

While at the same time keeping them in their current status? If they're more efficient, they get paid more. No need to go to a position you weren't trained for.

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (1)

Fortran IV (737299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544259)

The phrase was borrowed for a fairly good British TV comedy about a seriously incompetent bank manager: The Peter Principle [] (unimaginatively called "The Boss" in the US).

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (1)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544341)

Considering the book (The Peter Principle) came out in 1970 (?) I think it beats that series for previous art dibs. ;)

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (1)

Fortran IV (737299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544495)

"Borrowed for", not "borrowed from". :)

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (1)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544541)

Bah, colour me with the stupid crayon.

Re:Getting promoted to your incompetence level (4, Informative)

Gulthek (12570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543118)

That's an old one, and a pretty good book:

The Peter Principle is a theory originated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter. It states that successful members of a hierarchical organization are eventually promoted to their highest level of competence, after which further promotion raises them to a level at which they are not competent. The term is a pun on Sigmund Freud's theory of the pleasure principle.

The theory was set out in a humorous style in the book The Peter Principle, first published in 1969. Peter describes the theme of his book as hierarchiology. The central principle is stated in the book as follows:

        In a Hierarchy Every Employee Tends to Rise to His Level of Incompetence.

Although written in a lighthearted manner, the book contains many real-world examples and thought-provoking explanations of human behaviour. Similar observations on incompetence can be found in the Dilbert cartoon series (such as The Dilbert Principle). In 1981 Avalon Hill made a board game on the topic titled "The Peter Principle Game.

-- The Peter Principle []

A bad boss... (4, Insightful)

BigZaphod (12942) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542477)

I think the best way to survive a bad boss is to get a new job. Life seems too short to spend it under the thumb of an incompetent ruler - that is, assuming you care about getting stuff done and being productive.

Re:A bad boss... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542562)

Life seems too short to spend it under the thumb of an incompetent ruler

We have a federal election here in .ca today. Your statement may haunt me for the next 4 years if the polls are any indication...

Re:A bad boss... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542787)

... considering that all the choices are stinkers this time around ...

There should be a choice on the ballot - "None of the above" - and if that gets the most votes, the position gets filled by a national lottery - someone is chosen completely at random.

Now who would YOU trust more as prime minister, or to steal less - a career politician, or some Joe Blow or Jane Doe chosen at random.

There is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542898)

Don't register. Don't vote. Don't pay taxes. Problem solved.

Re:There is... (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543123)

Voter registration is automatic here.

Re:A bad boss... (2, Insightful)

Fortran IV (737299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544292)

My fundamental belief for years is that anybody who actually wants a position of authority probably shouldn't be trusted with it.

Re:A bad boss... (1)

I8TheWorm (645702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543451)

I tend not to agree.

As a contractor (I'm fulltime now) I had all sorts of bad bosses. One in particular used to pick on anyone who disagreed with him, and try to rally the rest of the team on his side and against said employee. It got to the point where the disagreer wasn't invited to the group lunches, and just made very uncomfortable.

This guy would rather ruin someones career as well, rather than fire or transfer them out. At one point, I was the target, even though I'd seen the cause/result relationship (I've always been the tell-you-what-I-think-rather-than-what-you-want-to -hear type). That actually gave me more time to work on the problems at hand. When the project was finished, I left the software more manageable, faster, and more solid than when I got there.

Another example was the boss who brought me on contract-to-hire, only there was never really a hire. She strung me along, while her two fulltime programmers did absolutely nothing all day. When I spent two months rewriting the application that calculated fulltime employee bonuses at the end of the year, I decided my plan there.

At the beginning of the following year, I asked her one more time about the full-time position, and she continued along the "I'm working on it" line. So I waited until she began her conversion from a working HR system to SAP-HR, and walked out the door.... being not only her only qualified programmer, but the only one on her team that understood the data in the legacy system and the conversions that would be necessary.

Shitty of me? Yes. Did it make me feel a little better? Also yes.

Easy (2, Funny)

squoozer (730327) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542494)

Just don't go to work. That's what I did when I had a bad boss. He was so bad I went about a year turning up only once in a while when I felt like it. Eventually I left and did something else - I don't think he ever found out. He was well on the road to a caffine + stress induced heart attack so it was probably best that I just kept out the way.

Re:Easy (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542705)

You sound like a straight shooter with upper management written all over you...
(Sorry, required Office Space Reference)

yelling (1)

johnnyR (211170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542501)

my latest boss is a yeller, yells about everything, yelled at me at the Christmas party!!! we work in a very big company and I'm amazed he gets away with it, I want to go to HR but would feel like a snitch.......

Re:yelling (1)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545152)

Do it. Just dont do it stupidly. State the facts, quite cleanly, and without displaying your disdain. Explain that he may very well be a good manager, but he needs to adopt a more civil tone when adressing his people. Makes you feel uncomfortable, and reduces your ability to work competently.

Once you distill complaints down to the raw facts of the matter, its really very hard for people to take offense at them. I find most problems with people complaining is they are angry when they do it and dont think about it much at all. I usually take a good 15 minutes or so, sit down, and write a nice, precise e-mail. I've had good responses so far, if thats indication.

Think Different (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542503)

Sometimes the best thing is to give up and move to a new job. It can really work, if you've got what it takes. The very talented newswoman Rudi Bakhtiar [] recently switched from CNN to Fox News Channel. I have always depised Fox, but I guess now I have no choice but to watch it!

The answer is simple (5, Insightful)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542513)

Quit. Seriously. The answer is to quit. A bad boss makes for a horrible working environment. Horrible working environments are detrimental to your health. Your working environment will affect your mental health and that's not somethin you can leave at the office when you go home at not. Your home and love life will suffer just as much as your health. Take it from me; I've been there.

Just last week I was diagnosed with two partially-healed ulcers. A stomach problem over the holidays (read: bleeding) prompted me to go to the doctor. I'd been putting it off for 2 years after parting ways with a particularly nasty job that had an overabundance of office politics. My working life since then has been peaches and cream compared to what it was back then. I now have the best job I've ever had. Yet I still have two ulcers that have not yet healed themselves.

Bad bosses cause bad working environments. You do not want to be around either. Move up or move out. It's that simple. The job market is better than you think.

Re:The answer is simple (1)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542626)

I disagree. Bosses are clueless that they are assholes and need to be told. Try that first..:)

Re:The answer is simple (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544402)

The way to get the message across is tell them with deeds, not words. They won't hear mere words. They might hear the other. I agree with the GP. Quit!

Re:The answer is simple (2, Interesting)

Kamel Jockey (409856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542634)

Bad bosses cause bad working environments. You do not want to be around either. Move up or move out. It's that simple. The job market is better than you think.

Amen to that. Another thing to consider though is if you're putting in 60-80 hours a week at a job that you hate, quitting and taking a new job may provide you with quite a bit of free time that you probably never knew you had as well.

Linin' Large! (4, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543282)

Quit. Seriously. The answer is to quit.

Yes, of course, because we're all foot-lose and fancy-free, we all work because if we didn't we'd all just sleep all day, and jobs just come along! But seriously, for the vast majority of people out there, this is not really a realistic option. Usually, personal situations like family with children prevent it, but there could be many other things. Economically, most people today live a few paychecks away from living on the street, and might as well be indentured servants. This is why it simply is not uncommon for people in our society to snap and kill a few people on the way out the door. Bad bosses should not be the problem of the worked bee; it should be management's problem, that's why the "professionals" in Human Resources make the big bucks, right?

Re:Linin' Large! (1)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544626)

I know most people live this way, but why do so many put themselves in a situation where they can't quit? Don't tell me they don't have a choice. They most certainly do. I've had bosses who encouraged their underlings to turn themselves into financially dependent indentured servants, and been the target of harassment because I would not do that to myself. Been called a "flight risk". Wasn't any of their business how big my car and house payments were not.

You who can't quit and who let that fact slip to the bosses deserve some pain. You'd probably walk off a cliff too if your boss ordered it. I wish you people would cut that out. Your exploitability makes life harder for everyone, not just yourselves. It's hard enough competing with H1B indentured servants. By continuing to work for a hopelessly bad boss, you help that boss stay a boss. Thanks a crap load.

Re:Linin' Large! (1)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545171)

People like to buy big things that they cant afford. Usually these things are cars and houses. They get big loans in one form or another, that basically lock them into working continuously for years. I don't do this, and I have a fairly sizable amount of money put away such that I could quit and not have to work for a year or two. This does mean I don't have as shiny of a car as my coworkers, but the ability to just walk out the door at any moment is worth far more.

Re:The answer is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14543367)

Why should someone quit an otherwise good job on account of one person's incompetence? Sometimes that is the only viable option, but a bad boss does not necessarily mean bad work environment. I don't really like my boss or the department coordinator, because they're both idiots, but I like my co-workers, and the boss doesn't limit my own performance. Then again, I actually take responsibility for myself, and when I need to I just ignore my boss and work on what needs to be done... then when I'm ready to implement a solution, I go to the people who will let my boss know they want it done now. At which point, those people and my boss get to take credit for the idea, and I get to take credit for the genius miracle solution that is pulled out of my butt. Everyone's happy.

Re:The answer is simple (1)

sakusha (441986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543496)

Stress and bad bosses don't cause ulcers. As this year's Nobel Prize for Medicine emphasized, ulcers are caused by a bacterial infection, and can be cured easily with antibiotics. You need a better doctor, preferably one that keeps up with recent medical advancements.

One reason why people endure bad bosses: switching jobs can cause loss of benefits like health insurance. Many people are encountering "job lock," a reluctance to change jobs for fear of losing their current health insurance. I've been there.

Re:The answer is simple (2, Interesting)

IdolizingStewie (878683) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543629)

Stress lowers the immune system, making you more susceptible to the bacterial infection.

Re:The answer is simple (1)

austad (22163) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544312)

You are wrong. The majority of ulcers outside the US are caused by H. Pylori bacteria. A good percentage in the US also are caused by it, but it's definitely not the only reason.

Stress increases the amount of acid in your stomach, and people whose stomachs do not produce a thick enough layer of protective mucus can be damaged by it. Damaged areas produce nearly no protective mucus, and it's a downward spiral once the damage is done. This is why it takes so long for them to heal.

I also have an ulcer from a job I had over 2 years ago. I've been tested several times for H. Pylori and a couple of other bacterias that can cause ulcers, and tested negative every time. A double dose if Protonix is making it much better for me and it's slowly healing, but it definitely gets worse if I'm stressed out for a few days.

There are also studies showing that people who have the HPV or Herpes virus also have increased chances of getting an ulcer, but there's no proof that these viruses actually cause it.

Re:The answer is simple (1)

macdaddy (38372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545140)

I take it that you've never had a stressful job or ulcers. Get the first sometime and I assure that the second with quickly follow.

Re:The answer is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14545179)

So? Would you rather we have a commie run national healthcare program? Too many workers are ungrateful for the benefits we let you have.

Re:The answer is simple (2, Informative)

MrScience (126570) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544270)

Interesting anecdote... but ulcers are not caused by stress. Two weeks of antibotics should set you right as rain, thanks to Dr. Marshal and Dr. Warren [] .

When Australian researcher Barry Marshall, MBBS, first suggested in the early 1980s that stomach ulcers were caused by the bacteria Helicobacter pylori, he was nearly laughed off the stage at an international infectious disease conference. But 20 years later, H pylori is acknowledged as the chief cause of peptic ulcers, and antibiotics are their preferred treatment. 0.lead []

To prove it, he downed a whole load of pylori, giving himself the mother of all ulcers. Now that's science (both in the mainstream refusal, and the evidence required to prove it).

Re:The answer is simple (2, Informative)

nathanh (1214) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545308)

Quit. Seriously. The answer is to quit. A bad boss makes for a horrible working environment. Horrible working environments are detrimental to your health. Your working environment will affect your mental health and that's not somethin you can leave at the office when you go home at not. Your home and love life will suffer just as much as your health. Take it from me; I've been there.

Just last week I was diagnosed with two partially-healed ulcers.

Stress does not cause ulcers. That's one of those persistent medical myths. Ulcers are caused by gut bacteria [] and it's typically poor diet that causes them to flare.

BOFH (2, Funny)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542550)

Some quicklime and a construction dumpster... or perhaps a elevator thats in need of fixing... or a air tight tape safe...

Re:BOFH (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542916)

Either a dumpster, or the cornerstone of a new building like they used in Robin and the Seven Hoods. []

Perhaps I am misunderstanding the question... (3, Funny)

Tibor the Hun (143056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542575)

But are you planning to use poison, a cold weapon, a firearm, or an explosive device?

Re:Perhaps I am misunderstanding the question... (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542891)

Hemlock [] is the way to go. How you hide your ebay purchase of hemlock is left as an exercise for the reader.

Easy (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542583)


Re:Easy (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542817)

You left out a few steps. This is slashdot
  1. Quit
  2. Take them to the local labour relations board
  3. PROFIT!

Also, when you do, tell them what you really think of them. Its cheaper than therapy.

Apt Aphorism (1, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542595)

"Everyone gets promoted to the level of their incompetence."

-- Lawrence Peters

not easy to avoid, not easy to appease (4, Informative)

yagu (721525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542620)

The problem with "bosses" is they come from the same base as everyone else. My experience has been and continues to be, for any discipline, less than 5% or so of players in that discipline truly know how and what they're doing.

That leaves the temperament and maturity of a "boss" as the essence with which you must deal. I had always been pretty lucky with managers and had good working relations with all but the last -- who turned out to be a little Nazi... He cared more about his image, and less about the work his team produced. He cultivated an "always busy" look for his group, but they produced far less with far less quality than other groups around us.

I constantly took him and the team to task for their hubris, and faux work facade, and became unpopular with Mr. Boss.

I rolled the dice at a bad time, it was at the same time IT decided to lay off 20% of the work force, and I had curried no favors to better my chances with this goonie. I don't know had I been a kiss-ass with him I would have fared better, but I was part of the 20% (after a illustrious 21 years with this company) let go.

Bottom line: in today's world, there isn't much you can do if you want to stand on priniciple -- unless you're lucky enough to have landed a great boss who knows what he or she is doing -- there aren't many of them. It's a shame and a crime when the truth, as stated in the article, is:

some bosses can be "fixed," but at other times it's better to hunker down or cover your ass so the bad boss can find other targets
It's probably one reason so many things are fucked today -- it's probably one of the reasons things like DRM even manages to get any traction -- it's probably why half the decisions being made are done so because of money under the table.

This is my story (2, Informative)

MikeDawg (721537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542652)

Here is my story: Ask Slashdot article []

Re:This is my story (1)

mschuyler (197441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542956)

I would give you the benefit of the doubt and call you a 'victim' of this behavior without knowing the details. In other words, what follows surely does not apply to you, personally. I want to make sure you, MikeDawg, understand I'm not criticizing you personally AT ALL. 'K?

I've heard of this before. One of my Novell instructors (3.1, what? 20 years ago?) told us a story of a sysadmin who explored around his bank's files and discovered what everyone was paid. He broadcast this, was chastized for it, but they kept him on with a warning. Next time he screwed up (in my mind, inevitably) they called him over to 'fix' a problem with a computer in HR. When he got there, they fired him. Meanwhile, the other sysadmins axed his account. He immediately went back to the computer room and attempted to login. The implication was that he was about to 'do some harm.' The CNE instructor had been one of the sysadmins who axed this fellow's account, so his was a first-hand account.

If this has become common practice, the question is, why are sysadmins so distrusted? Could it possibly be that 'management' is aware of a pervasive attitude of cynacism in IT? Could it be that management has developed a view of IT people as socially awkward malcontents who think its okay not to use deodorant and have a pervasive attitude of superiority over other employees? Could it be that management reads /.?

Don't know--just asking.

Re:This is my story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14543525)

a disgruntled adminstrator gets pissed at how much he's making, but appears as the happiest person in the world. he finds a better job and puts in his 2 weeks. annoyed that he had to work his ass off in his overworked underpaid job just to build up experience, he decides to use his 2 weeks of paid vacation to plant a very deep logic bomb to delete random rows out of a random database every week.

tell me again why i shouldn't remove my sys admin's access after he says he's leaving?

Re:This is my story (1)

mOdQuArK! (87332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544774)

tell me again why i shouldn't remove my sys admin's access after he says he's leaving?

Do you have any common sense? If such a person really wanted to hurt you, they'd put the logic bomb in _before_ giving their notice.

Cutting off somebody's access is more appropriate when you are _firing_ somebody, but suddenly not trusting somebody who has given voluntary notice that they are leaving is an exercise in PHB logic.

How.. (0, Offtopic)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542662)

How the hell do we turn these crappy little one line articles off or enlarge them? It's bloody annoying.

Re:How.. (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542726)

Click the "Sections" link on the navigation column, a selection box pop ups and you can pick your poison.

Re:How.. (1)

`Sean (15328) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543364)

Simple. Read the front page article about how to turn them off.

I Am A Horrible Boss (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542792)

That's right, I said it.

Technically, I'm gifted. I can analyse a situation and come up with a solution almost immediately, often without a full grasp of how I arrived at the answer. That is where the problem lies. I don't have the patience to explain things to people, and I get frustrated when they don't "get it" as quickly as I do.

I don't want to be the boss, but my bosses keep trying to put people under me. Just let me work, pay me, and I'll make sure your network is safe and secure, and runs 24/7. Just don't give me direct reports. It just makes them miserable, and me a nervous wreck. Don't blame me when they quit six months from now because I'm a bad boss, because I told you up front that I was.

Quit trying to promote me. I know you want to retain me, but why not just remove the arbitrary salary caps per job classification and give me the salary I deserve without having to tie it to "management". Keeping the auditors happy is justification enough for the 10% raise you gave me this year. Sarbanes Oxley and GBLA is a bitch, and I manage the IT side of it for you. You've never once had a bad audit. Isn't that alone worth paying me what it takes to keep me without saddling me with arbitrating personality conflicts, managing vacation schedules, keeping track of overtime, and all the other petty bullshit that goes along with having "underlings"?

Don't you get it?

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (5, Informative)

lgw (121541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542977)

Many companies have a "technical career track" for just this reason. I have the same paygrade as a senior manager, yet I'm an individual contributor. My career track potentially extends all the way to "Fellow", with the same pay grade as a senior VP. While it's unlikely I'll make it that far in my career, it's still far more likely than becoming an actual VP on a management track, so I can't complain.

If your technical skills are that good, find a company that knows what to do with them.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (1)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545197)

Name of company plz

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (4, Insightful)

Kevin Stevens (227724) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543142)

This seems to be a very common problem in technical departments of non-technical companies. Getting into management is the only way up the ladder, and there are no ways to make a comfortable salary without managing people or projects. If you are techie you are deemed less valuable than a manager. This problem was first* outlined in the Mythical Man Month by Fred Brooks in the mid 1970's folks! Yet managers still don't get it. My manager doesn't get it. I have a coworker that is awesome technically that is experiencing the same problem. He has asked to take on an architect type role in the team, and my manager has told him repeatedly that being a developer is a dead-end. He was even penalized in his last review for it and labeled as "uncooperative to management" because of it.

I think this mindset is caused by the fact that the people in charge- aka the management- did not see spending their life dealing directly with technology as rewarding and fulfilling and from their first day on the job had an eye on the corner office. Technology companies have a better understanding of technologists and accordingly have much better promotion paths for those not wanting to manage people.

*Well maybe only first in the sense that the Model-T was the first car, but close enough.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (1)

chris_mahan (256577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543216)

Ah, but looks like you too have horrible bosses.

The quuestion then goes: who promoted the bad boss? Another bad Boss? And who's in charge of it all? The executives. And who's in charge of the executives? The Board of Directors + shareholders...

Maybe they figure that bad bosses are actually good for the bottom line...

In which case you must quit.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (2, Interesting)

sakusha (441986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543544)

There is a philosophy amongst some of the more enlightened companies that the best bosses and managers are the people who are most reluctant to become managers. You sound like a perfect example. You have shown competence in your job, and know enough about management to know how difficult it is, and you are reluctant to take on these serious responsibilities. But that is what makes you the perfect candidate. You can become a good boss by cultivating the qualities you desire in your employees and in yourself. That is leadership.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (3, Interesting)

GallopingGreen (183511) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544044)

This kind of shit bugs me.

It's like anything - learn it. Learn how to do it well. And stop complaining.

Tech-heads complain because people can't figure how to program a VCR. And quite rightly - it's a piece of piss. But non-techs decide in advance: "I can't do this", when all they really need to think is: "Ok, this device has been designed to make it easy to achieve common functions. Look at the buttons, interpret the symbols, keep trying untill you figure it out..."

It's the same with management, just do it. And do it well. If you're as bright as you claim, then you can be a great manager.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (2, Informative)

Fortran IV (737299) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544449)

It's like anything - learn it. Learn how to do it well. And stop complaining... It's the same with management, just do it. And do it well. If you're as bright as you claim, then you can be a great manager.

I'm sorry, but that's a load of bollocks.

Have you ever heard of "talent"? Some people are naturally good at some things and naturally bad at others. Different people have different talents.

If you are tone deaf, no amount of practice will ever make a worthwhile violinist out of you, because you simply can't hear when you hit an off note. And if you have the equivalent of tone deafness in your ability to judge and understand other people, no amount of Dale Carnegie and HR training will make a good manager out of you.

I know—I have a fair amount of "people-deafness" myself. The only people I can manage are the ones who don't really need a manager at all, because I simply can't "hear" the mistakes I make with the others.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (2, Insightful)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545223)

Program vcr -> read manual.

While there are manuals for managing people, none of them can really help you get over the fact that you just may not know how to work with people well. IT peoples aren't exactly known for their great socializing skills. I know I could do it, but I also know several people in the industry that would not make good managers. They are very introverted, and don't like talking to people. While they could go through the motions, that doesn't mean they would be very good at it.

I find that people do the best at their jobs when they actually like what they are doing.

Re:I Am A Horrible Boss (2, Interesting)

TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545390)

Thankyou for your honesty. I know plenty of IT people in your situation. I throw blunt objects at them frequently. Some advice.

People are reasonably easy to understand. Just provide them with the tools they need to do their job and a direction to follow. Then check in on them from time to time to make sure they are heading where you want them to. This is the hard part. TRUST THEM. Yes, every now and again they will stuff up, but give them space to do that and then the encouragement to have another go. Also remeber it is your job to run interference for these people. They don't need your boss on their tail. They need YOU.

As for promotion to 'management' to pay you more. If they paid you more than the cap without being in management, they devalue managers. This is something that managers don't wish to do. It would lead to people being paid based on productivity and even out the pay scales.

eg. I am a widget maker that can manufacture 1000 widgets a month. My manager is bad. With a good manager, I could manufacture 1100 widgets a month. if that manager was in charge of 20 widget makers, then the company can afford to pay that manager twice my salary minus profit margin. This would reflect badly on the bad boss. He would complain of being treated unfairly and demand twice my wage because he holds the same position as a good manager.

Now if I build a jig that allows me to double my personal production, I expect there to be no flow on to the managers income.

But since the managers are all friends with the bean counters and have duped the world into beliveing their propaganda, we will never see this. The fact they won't pay you more is just feeding their propaganda machine, without which they would not be able to drive their nice shiny new car.

Top-down vs. bottom-up (4, Interesting)

AeiwiMaster (20560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542813)

Thats how a top-down organization works by
promoting people to there highest level of incompetents !

As long as they do a good job they get promoted
and then they get stock in a position where they don't do well.

The way to solve this is to use a bottom-up organization and make every employee
stock holders.

In at bottom-up organization the project group chose there own project manager.
The project manager chose a department manager and etc. to the top.

But every member can challenges his manager for his position,
and then the group vote between the 2 candidates.

It is all described in detail on iness1.php []

Re:Top-down vs. bottom-up (1)

wiresquire (457486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544631)

I am glad to see this rated as Interesting as I think it is an interesting approach.

One thing that I have always wondered about this would be whether it would reduce or increase the level of politics in an organisation. The parallels between this and a modern 'democratic' voting societies appear fairly close.

Eg, if I want to be that project manager, I start to curry favours with other project members. Maybe I start offering concessions, or institute policies that benefit those members. Maybe it's a flat out bribe. And the more people who are interested in a particular position, the more nasty it would get.

We don't often see the *truly* best candidate for a prime minister/president [insert public office here] get the job, so I wonder if that would be any different in a more localised version within a company.

I'd be interested if anyone has some references or other insights into this.

Re:Top-down vs. bottom-up (1)

Nataku564 (668188) | more than 8 years ago | (#14545242)

To a certain degree, I concur. I feel the reason why most democratic governments grow corrupt is mostly due to their size, rather than the structure. In a corporation I feel this would be true as well. So, for small corporations ( 200 ish ) I figure this scheme could work well. Larger sized things would probably be less effective.

Being a good manager is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14542883)

The problems with managers is they have too much free time and when they realize how worthless they are they start laying rules like keep your desk clean (when you work with maps), you cannot have too many computers in your office (when you are doing multiplatform development and support) or why do you leave at 5 (when you are paid to work 8 hours by day and your duties for the day are done).

I remember losing a bid just for not reducing the price by 5 cents/feet, winning that bid could have kept us busy for 2 years but at the end many people got laid off, that is M A N A G E M E N T, not being an idiot and keep your business afloat.

aww man .. reader beware!! (1)

torpor (458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14542884)

if you've got a boss like this, then this document is exactly what you don't need to be reading..

coz' undoubtedlyl he'll be readin' it too. d'oh!

If democracy is so great .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14543098)

why aren't corporations democratic?

Big business is simply big tyranny. Most bosses rule thanks largely to cronyism, nepotism or patronism.

Go ahead, deny it, as you must, but in truth I feel we've sold freedom out.

Re:If democracy is so great .... (4, Interesting)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543639)

Corporations aren't democratic because they're plutocratic republics. Shareholders get different levels of voting power based on how much they own of the company and elect a board to represent them and manage the company. You can't have a democracy when one-man-one-vote is not in effect.

The problem with corporate cronyism is that a large number of boards are made up of the largest investors or are close friends with the largest investors. Thus, the elite voters are close to the people being elected. This has trended towards a pattern of corruption in every single social group that has allowed elite voting rights.

If you want to investigate a democratic model of company management, look into syndicalism. Of course, nothing's perfect and syndicalism has a lot of flaws such as a lack of strong profit motive to keep the company alive and management being based on popularity and charisma instead of capability. (A truly meritocratic model of corporate governance simply doesn't exist and cannot exist due to the impossibility of objectively determining merit.)

Then again, even in a democratically run company, I still feel that publicly traded companies cannot have a higher ethical goal in the long run since the majority of shareholders will always have profit as their primary motive. That's a topic for a different discussion, though.

I say, keep trying (2)

cpt kangarooski (3773) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543271)

No matter how big, or bad the boss is, there's invariably some weakness you can exploit, and some way you can defeat them and move on. Maybe you should talk with other people in the area, to see if they can give you any helpful advice. Maybe your strategy for dealing with the boss is suboptimal: If a boss tends to concentrate on what's right in front of him, maybe you should go behind his back, and generally avoid him, or at least keep your head down and don't get noticed. Or you could watch for patterns in what he does, and take advantage of that. Don't confront a boss unprepared; make sure you've got the things you'll need when dealing with him, and if possible, some extra lives. And if there's just absolutely no other option, you can check a walkthrough.

Remember that you're smarter than he is, and that only by persevering can you defeat all the bosses and rescue the princess, or whatever. But if you quit playing, then he's won.

Re:I say, keep trying (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14543355)

Some people get promoted to their highest level of incompetence,
others get promoted to be out of the way.

Re:I say, keep trying (3, Insightful)

mswope (242988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544268)

Nah. Make sure you do your best and if your best isn't what's needed, go elsewhere. You can keep trying, but after a while that foolish feeling inside you is your subconscious trying to tell you to get real. "Remember that you're smarter than he is, and that only by persevering can you defeat all the bosses and rescue the princess, or whatever. But if you quit playing, then he's won." If you don't realize that there's a bigger game called "your life" outside your boss's world, you've already lost.

I'm a fairly decent boss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14543382)

But, unfortunately, I keep working in environments where I'm not supposed to function as a boss. I naturally end up with people gravitating to me looking for me to lead them. This is what I'd rather be doing, and I keep making productivity go up whenever given the chance to lead.

I'm often reporting to people who don't want me to be a boss. So, my review is based on what I do directly, not what I create indirectly. So, I end up taking on more and more. Why? Because an artificial chain-of-command tends to coalesce around me. People want my direction to work. So I do that for as many hours a week as I do the work I'm evaluated on. It sucks.

There are people who are really good at the nuts and bolts, and they are far better at it than I am. But I'm decent, I get the ideas, and so I'm assigned the work that goes better to someone else.

Meanwhile, because I'm often the only person who'll listen, I get the job of smoothing things out, making people happy, and facilitating communication between people who otherwise don't communicate well.

I end up doing the work of the boss, because the boss is too busy trying to do the work that should be assigned to subordinates. I remember the place I worked at where the boss figured that one out. Good thing I left, or I might have been fired for being a threat.

I once had a bad boss..... (1)

ShyGuy91284 (701108) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543458)

She was opinionated (wrongly so), two faced (She tried to hide she hated you, but made it obvious she was faking it), and quite frankly didn't really seem to do as much as one might think. I was lucky enough to have a supervisor though that knew what he was doing, so I didn't have to deal with her often. Although it always seems like other people aren't doing anything if you don't see them working, I'm pretty sure she offloaded a lot of work to the supervisor (her subordinate) that she was supposed to do. I think as the head of the department, she had nothing to do with the internals, and only managed interaction outside of the department.

Or you could HELP? (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 8 years ago | (#14543839)

If you have a bad boss, yes, it's a pain, but you can manage up as well as manage down.

Suggest in a question what you think needs to be done and in a way that helps the "bad" boss see what the right path is without denigrating him/her. "Hey, I was wondering if you thought using a temp to do this work over here might free up atar performer alpha to do the harder work instead of this grunt work? I'm probably missing something but I don't see the downside. What do you think?"

Nah, better to be a "bad employee" and act like a spoiled teenager. "Well if YOU don't know..."

Most people leave their boss, not their company (3, Interesting)

MvdB (260047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544112)

When people quit a company, I think that in about 80% of the cases people leave their boss. In how far the boss is a product of the company remains open to question.

We'll call this plan B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14544365)

Now that my original plan [] has been scuppered, perhaps I'll just try some of these good people's suggestions.

And post anonymously, so's not to tip off the boss!

Best way to deal with dickish boss.... (1)

Hits_B (711969) | more than 8 years ago | (#14544765)

1. Get ski mask
2. Wait for him in parking deck.
3. Tackle him then kick in the ribs repeatedly
4. Profit!!!
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