Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Bad Boss Contest

The AFL-CIO recently sponsored a Bad Boss concert, awarding to winners - among other prizes - copies of a book entitled A Survival Guide For Working With Bad Bosses: Dealing With Bullies, Idiots, Back-Stabbers and Other Managers From Hell. Winning entries will be posted at the website Some of these beggar the imagination. One boss brought a stun gun to business meetings to inspire motivation. Another boss refused to pay medical costs for an employee who was hurt on the job, even though the employee was his own daughter. And so on. According to, the winning entries tended to be those in which the boss kept the employee at work while a beloved relative lay in the hospital dying, and other such heart-rending fare. Pathos apparently beats out humor every time.

I can relate. I was forced to work overtime on an IT project that had been heinously misscheduled by my boss, and ended up having to shuttle back and forth between New York and Kansas City while my mother was dying in a Boston ICU. That boss was not even my worst. The worst may have been a women's clothes mail order magnate who fired a manager merely for calling out his name across the floor of a noisy packaging plant. The manager had just that week made a downpayment on a house, and eventually lost the money when he was forced to relocate. Some day I will tell you more. I have been exposed to a whole menagerie of managerial miscreants, so there is much to tell.

Commentators of the contest on NPR suggested that the greatest grievance workers have against bad bosses is their lack of respect for their subordinates. A union organizer among them noted that bad bosses are good only for unions because they galvanize resistance among workers more quickly. Bad bosses, he asserted, were of absolutely no use to anyone else.

"Your boss never looked so good" from Marketplace (NPR)
"How to survive a boss who makes you miserable" from

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