Horrible Bosses: Real Bad Boss Behavior


"That very same manager got to sit in the audience and listen as I delivered the opening keynote at his new employer's annual conference, for a daily fee that was considerably in excess of what I'd been 'overpaid' in a month when working for him," Barry wrote. "I always try not to be petty, but I can't remember when I've enjoyed giving a speech more."

Succeeding -- and Then Cutting Them Off at the Knees

When Jill, a designer, was fresh out of college, she worked for a fashion industry bigwig who made Miranda Priestly from "The Devil Wears Prada" look kind.

"She was evil," Jill said in an email about her former boss, an executive at a major department store chain. "She made everyone around her nervous, scared, hide when she was coming and run to get out of her path when she walked the floors. A month before I was getting married, she called me into her office and told me I couldn't use the week after my wedding to go on my honeymoon, although she had known about it for almost a year, because it was September and that was our busiest time of year. I of course started crying and tried to tell her I was not crying because I was sad but because I was so angry. From then on, she would say in front of people, 'Don't say anything mean to Jill -- she might cry.'"

Jill eventually accepted a job offer from a vendor that designed clothing for her soon-to-be-former employer as well as many of the nation's other big department stores. True to form, Jill's boss did her best to get in as many jabs as she could before Jill's departure.

"She tried to come into my office and tell me they would 'eat me up and spit me out,'" Jill said of her boss. "I took the job and, within three months, had the line pulled from her store. It was on its way out anyway -- I just helped it along. My ex-boss was later demoted because of having that big of a line taken [away] under her reign."

Acquiescing -- and Then Throwing Their Rules Back in Their Face

As far as I'm concerned, Izzy, an IT professional turned entrepreneur, has the on-the-job boss retaliation thing down. Not only did he manage to throw his boss's words back in his face, he found a way to humiliate the guy in the process and keep his job.

"I worked for a clock watcher," Izzy explained. "If someone was a minute late to work, he threw a five-minute tantrum over it. An emergency once came up where the head of personnel could not get his PC working. I took it apart and fixed it, which was not really my job, but in an emergency I do what has to be done. When I finished, my official lunch break was almost over. I started to eat lunch and my manager told me to get back to work. I explained that I had been dealing with an emergency, as he well knew. He said he didn't care. Lunch was 11:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., not 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. I complained to the head of personnel, who tried to reason with him, but he refused to budge."

"A few weeks later," Izzy continued, "my boss had a problem with his PC and asked me to look at it. I took it apart and spread the pieces out across his desk. At exactly 3:30 p.m. -- I worked from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. -- I walked out, leaving the pieces there. He started shouting that I had to put it back together. I told him I worked to 3:30 p.m., not 3:45 p.m. He tried to have a negative comment put in my employee folder, but the head of personnel sided with me and reminded him that I was only following his policy."

Bosses Beware: Retaliation Happens

Managers both malevolent and benevolent, take note: Right or wrong, retaliation happens. And because you never know who you might be reporting to or doing business with in the future, you'd best treat every employee you encounter with respect and courtesy. Protecting yourself from future retribution -- or from having your computer's innards strewn across your desk and left there -- should be incentive enough to do so.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and former cubicle dweller. Her books include My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire and The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube. Follow her at @anti9to5guide.

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