If you find yourself in a mid-career position dealing with a really bad boss, try not to despair. There is hope and there are choices ” choices you might not have had when you were just getting out of college.
You may have the extreme bad luck to be stuck with a bad boss on your first job, or early in your career. I was fortunate: I didn t get a miserable manager until I d been in the field long enough to build up an unshakeable belief in my own programming competence. If you find yourself in a mid-career position dealing with a really bad boss, try not to despair. There is hope and there are choices, choices you might not have had when you were just getting out of college. To get a handle on how you can cope, read on.
The worst bosses often rule by public humiliation. They rant. They feel the need to bulldoze their subordinates ”to make their authority manifest. Such a boss may not be quenchable, for he is dealing from a position of strength. Only a company owner or someone working with the acquiescence of management can get away with operating like that. (Out-of-control manager behavior is less and less visible in big companies, whose human resources department monitors how employees are treated in many ways.)
The bad manager I finally drew after fifteen years at IBM wasn t a ranter (ranting would never have been tolerated at IBM). But his quiet oppression was more dangerous, because I wanted to keep this job, and he had the power to force me into leaving it.
When I first started working for this manager, it seemed that he was ready, willing, and eager to stick it to me. I don t know why, but it didn t matter; he was all over me for his own reasons. He didn t seem to care about my excellent work record, or my IBM awards, or the software products that I had developed, or the countries I had visited for IBM, or my top-employee evaluation rating, or even that I knew the branch manager, who was his boss. He was interested in my doing things exactly his way, and how and where he wanted it done, with exactly the results he expected. He was clearly interested in achieving his goals, but he didn t ask about or consider my goals.
I checked with my systems-engineer buddies , and they weren t thrilled either, so I thought perhaps he simply was not aware of how we operated, or ”even more important ”how IBM operated: The first principle of the IBM Code of Conduct was Respect for the Individual in the manager/employee relationship.
No, he apparently just wanted to do things his way, and he had the power to do it, and he was going to show us ”and apparently especially me ”that he was indeed the boss (which we never disputed). Perhaps his problem with me was that I was spending time overseas and not on the branch customer accounts or something. And no amount of attempted cooperation or conciliation or rational thinking could change things.
So it was war.