Thursday, October 17, 2013

Is your Boss a Psychopath?

The topic of toxic management is near and dear to my heart. I have had a few bosses that are shall we say "outside the bell curve" of appropriate behavior. One in particular was Bipolar and undiagnosed, so there was not a pill available to level him out. It was back in my early retail days and some of the stories of working for this particular crazy are now folklore. This  boss was revered by sr. leadership as he was considered the only boss tough enough to get unthinkable things done (on the backs of his management and staff). This was before pda's, when we carried beepers that had voice with them.  A few times this particular MADMAN paged people and cursed only to have customers hear him screaming through the beeper system...he didn't care either as long as we did what he wanted. He also had a thing for woman 1/2 his age. Once I was forced to attend a Mets game with him and his date. I was called by the head of operations and told to go. My wife had to go too and she wasn't sure what to make of this twilight zone event. In the end he imploded, only after many good execs had left the  company beaten down by the crazy. Some of us were survivors and somehow endured the bizarre and nasty behavior.
I had another boss who used to make me come in at 6am every Monday to do weekly budget work. He wanted it done before anyone else came to work. To this day I am not sure why as the information was not due till the next day...guess he wanted to be first to submit it ( under his name of course).
A third boss (also with a thing for younger woman) used to hold mtgs. every weds night after the owners left, because he didn't want them to see him having meetings with his staff. These were usually after 11 hour days...and then we were required to go to an expensive dinner (he thought this was a reward). I just wanted to get home to my infant daughter who was long asleep by the time I walked in.
I could write a book from my retail days about crazy bosses. At one point I thought it was a job requirement to be nuts! and started to become concerned as I moved up the ranks, that yes maybe I was a psychopath too.
One of the best stories is being cursed out the week during Christmas by a regional V.P. in Macy's Roosevelt field in front of hundreds of customers. Why, because we had a bad store audit from the company internal auditors...someone had left the 14k jewelry showcase open the night before...and for some reason that was my fault...I had absolutely nothing to do with it...but she screamed F bombs at me. Then the store manager sais to me good thing she likes you or you would have really heard it.
All I could think was WTF...and then I got promoted 3 weeks later and the crazy had recommended me for it...
It wasn't just retail though...At Leviton most of the senior team was normal and great folks, however one former leadership member used to nix any idea that was nice for our employees. I wanted to put a free ATM in the cafeteria...NO, I had a dry cleaner willing to pick and drop cleaning twice a week...NO, the best was we put a stamp machine in the lunchroom and when this individual came to a once a year ceremony in the lunch room we had to hide it behind green screens...
What's wrong with people in power, did it make a difference that we had a stamp vending machine which saved employees a 20 minute trip to the post office???
Here's a good story, One sr. boss at a former employer would not let us aggregate employee checks to pay for activities like going to the circus or a hockey game (group tickets)...he said it was too much work, so we had to collect cash...
The worst toxic behavior I can't even write about for fear of reprisal, and I don't even work at these companies anymore.
Sometimes I watch reruns of the TV show "The Office" and think I could have been a writer for the show. Only my stuff really happened...

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