Monday, February 11, 2008

Chester the Molester

So, I've recently been sucked into the Bad Boss Vortex. Again. It's a phenomenon that has a tendency to creep in, rather than just plopping down in front of you all at once. Once you've been sucked into the Bad Boss Vortex, it becomes all-consuming. It's what you talk about when you get up in the morning, it's what you talk about at dinner, and it's what keeps you awake in the middle of the night. It truly sucks. And for the most part, YOU suck to be around when you're stuck in the vortex. Once in the vortex, you are also probably not very motivated to do a good job, to keep your own subordinates engaged in productivity, or to put in any effort beyond the minimum required. It pretty much is a lose-lose proposition for you and the company for which you work. So riddle me this... why do so many companies a) hire managers without weighing input from previous subordinates, b) allow bad management to continue once it is identified, and c) promote strong individual contributors to the point of their incompetence as managers?

I, for one, like being a boss and I work very hard at being a good manager and a decent professional mentor to the people who report to me. I know it isn't always easy or straightforward, but it goes without saying that there are probably a few logical "Don'ts" out there for managers want to have a successful and motivated workforce. I've experienced a few doosies in my time. Here's one example that I'm pretty sure is a "Don't" for the books:

Bad boss move #1: Classic sexual harrassment. Long, long ago, I was being considered for a big promotion to national HQ, thanks to the support and efforts of my direct boss. I was one the of the youngest to ever be considered for the position. Big stuff. Yay for me. Move on. As part of the consideration process, a BigWig from corporate (we'll call him Chester the Molester) flew in to shadow me for a few days on the job. It was common practice to take visiting Senior Management out for dinner during field visits. So after a late dinner and several drinks on his part, Chester insisted on walking me to my car. One moment he was telling me things were looking good for my promotion, the next moment he pushed me up against my car and stuck his tongue down my throat. Not what I was expecting or hoping for. Understatement of the year. Not only was Chester married, but he had spent the dinner talking about how his daughter and I were about the same age... Ick. Skip to the end of the story. I was passed up for the promotion. My performance began to suffer.

I had been sucked into the Bad Boss Vortex. In reality, I hadn't done anything wrong. It was impossible for me to see outside the vortex for a long time. A few months later, in a moment of clarity, I reported the incident to Human Resources. They confronted chester, he admitted to it, they slapped his hand, and he kept his position on the Senior Management team. I left the company shortly afterward.

Stay tuned for Bad Boss Moves #2 - #999. There are plenty of Bad Boss Vortexes/Vortices out there and I've had my share. I'm not alone, am I?

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