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Admin Pro Forum

Tell us about the worst boss you ever had

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Question: "Is there a particular boss from your past whose antics absolutely drove you up a wall? One whose behavior was off-the-charts annoying, and whose methods made you wonder how a person like that could ever become a boss in the first place? We'd love to hear your story!" - the editors of Administrative Professional Today

See comments below, and send your own question to editor@adminprotoday.com.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

WorkingMom August 15, 2016 at 3:56 pm

Oh boy! Most of my bosses were just fine for the most part. When one resigned unexpectedly, however, the replacement was the most disgusting human I have ever met. I had never before disliked anyone the way I disliked that little man. He was in fact very short and I believe a Napoleon Complex sufferer. He would get reamed out by his boss and then me being the first person he’d see, he thought it was ok to take his frustration out on me. I would tell him that I have not done anything to be talked to in that manner, he’d apologize and then do it again. He treated most of his staff rudely and would correct them in front of others. The last straw for me was that he lied and tried to write me up on things that were complete;y false saying my performance was unsatisfactory, but he had approved a raise for me a few months earlier which was only allowed if you had satisfactory or better performance. I immediately went to his boss. Lucky for me I had been there so long and had a relationship with his boss unbeknownst to him. It was he who should’ve been written up for terrible performance and I made sure his boss found out all I could conjure. Needless to say, he never went forward with writing me up and I wound up getting two job offers the next week after I had been looking for a new job forever I accepted one and my parting gift was finding out that the troll had been demoted even before I left and then ultimately let go. Sometimes karma’s a you know what!


Cas June 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Work for a person who is a hyper-micromanager, control freak, with a terrible memory who is also highly insecure. My reviews consist of commentary that I need to work on my personal appearance as sometimes I wear makeup and sometimes I don’t. Was told that I needed to lose weight as obesity is not the image the company wants to project (I work for a fast food company). I needed to dress better – because even though I only wore slacks and blouses – the rest of the office wore jeans. When I lost weight and was wearing my suits and dress clothes I was told to not dress better than the executive team. Oh and I had to remember that they are executives and I am not. Oh… and everything is my mistake. I can show him email trails of proof and he will believe everyone else over me. He truly is abusive. By the end of my first year, my confidence went 100% down to zero. I’ve been struggling to find a new job for 3 years now. He knows too many people in this town and it makes it impossible to find other work. Before I came here I was considered a stellar employee every where else I worked.


Judy May 20, 2016 at 1:22 pm

I worked for a (very) small credit union with only three employees. I was the loan/collection officer, another lady was customer service and then there was the manager. Ugh.

She often came to work late with a hangover and would spend HOURS laying on a couch sleeping/resting & complaining about a migraine while my co-worker and I covered for her. This happened about 2-3 times a week!

She was extremely passive-aggressive and you never knew where you stood with her. After hearing that she had talked very badly about me to my co-worker, I walked in one morning threw my keys on her desk and said “I’m done!”

Probably wasn’t the wisest way to handle things but I was pushed to the edge and there was no one to turn to for help. I ran into her in a big-box store some years later and when she said “hi” I couldn’t even get a word out of my mouth….just turned around and walked away.


Laurie May 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

I had been working in a specific Division HR department of a large company for about 18 months (19 years with the company) when a new Director was hired. The original team was very cohesive and worked well with our business partners. This Director stated she wanted to learn all aspect of the department and essentially took over as many customer facing tasks as possible. If the task seemed menial she left it with the person. She hired a new staff member (with no HR experience, but Reporting/Analytical) and readily gave her confidential responsibilities from day one. It became apparent after two months that if she didn’t hire you she didn’t trust you and wanted you gone. As everyone had tenure and great reviews she made things as uncomfortable as possible so we would all leave. I was in the middle of three projects that once implemented she replaced me on the advisory teams with her newly hired person saying they needed to get experience. All original staff became so frustrated we began looking for other positions – which is what she wanted. Of the four initial staff – one went out on maternity leave and didn’t come back, one moved on within the company, one took a job outside the company and the fourth was displaced (I was the displaced). Truly it was the best thing that ever happened to me!


Shari May 11, 2016 at 11:11 pm

Working for a subcontractor that belittles all his employees in front of our customers, vendors and co-workers. In his eyes, he is the best at everything and nobody can do anything at his level. Even when the truth is staring him in the face he denies that fact. Our turnover rate is 80% and he can’t seem to understand why everyone wants to leave, even myself.


Pat May 11, 2016 at 4:49 pm

The head of a small college within a larger organization. She was a drama queen when it came to her own work or personal problems but was absolutely without empathy or sympathy when it came to anybody else. She lied, backstabbed, gossiped and treated some of the faculty so terribly in meetings, it was embarrassing. She made no bones about liking or disliking you. I was never told what to do (even when asking for meetings to clarify duties) but was told I was wrong after the fact. My one & only evaluation was so terrible, I thought I was getting punked! This after 20 years with the organization in another department with stellar reviews. This included being written up for getting pneumonia and “not knowing that I was going to be so sick.” I quit without another job in place before I brought myself down to her level. Went on to find another position with wonderful people and a great organization.


Cindy Brundrett May 9, 2016 at 1:33 pm

I also had a boss I worked for a local bank that sent me out on Administrative Professionals day to buy him a band aid. As he didn’t like the band aids that the bank provided for company use. I told him in a joking matter, even though I wasn’t joking, that I wasn’t Florence Nightingale and don’t ask me to change the bandage or kiss it and make it better. It was ridiculous the way he treated me – more like a servant.


Cindy Brundrett May 9, 2016 at 1:30 pm

I had a boss that I worked for 9 years that would sit by my desk every Monday morning and tell me all about her sexual exploits with her new boyfriend. Even when I would interrupt her and tell her TMI (too much information) she would hesitate and go right back to telling me everything that happened that weekend. I felt more like her psychiatrist than her employee.


Mary Quezada May 9, 2016 at 12:59 pm

I once had a manager that would not train me on certain things so that she could be the only one to help when it was needed…..except that when she wasn’t working, I had to call her at home to get it done. Finally, when I was a fully trained assistant (thanks to my ability to learn by observation), she had me train all the new managers (one of them eventually stole me away from her). She also must have had mild misophonia (which she refused to acknowledge and just blamed it other people), because she would get very angry when anyone would chew in her presence unless she was also eating (we had no breakroom). She was very passive aggressive, and would alternate between treating me like an idiot, and then like her best friend. There were many yelling arguments between us because I could only stand for her to talk down to me for so long. Thank goodness I found my forever home at my current job working with wonderful people and the best boss in the world.


Annabelle May 6, 2016 at 3:41 pm

I once worked for a husband and wife team that happened to be the owners. They fought a lot in the office. Personal and professional business all aired out for the tiny little office to hear. It was horrible and kept everyone on edge. They expected everyone to make no mistakes and would fire people for the stupidest things. A trainee messed up a company report and they fired her on the spot. She had done the report only once or twice and was barely learning. The wife was my immediate boss and once yelled at me in front of the whole office. Part of my job was collections and I had a very small percentage of past dues owed. However, She was looking for money anywhere she could find it. She was stressing out and I was the unlucky one at the copier that she saw that morning. They created such a hostile work environment that it really got to me, I ended by quitting before I had another job. It wasn’t the smartest thing I ever did and would be really insane now in today’s job market. I landed on my feet though, working for the best company and the best company ever.


Lynn May 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

Wow, that story could have been me in my late 20’s…..not only did the husband & wife commit the same actions, but their grown sons who worked there were also humiliated in front of the staff!


Cindy May 6, 2016 at 11:36 am

I was in a position that I had multiple managers. He would would sit at his desk and lean the chair back with a big belly and suck air through his teeth, all day and his office door was on the left side of where I sat. If that was not enough he would throw, not toss, over his desk and out his office door and in front of my desk, candy at people coming through our door employees and customers. He must have been obsessed with karaoke because he would at random times pick up a guitar and sing. I would have brushed it off to being eccentric but he was a terrible manager. He could not communicate to me or others what he wanted. I don’t understand how someone like him became a boss. Still scratching my head with that question and I have not worked for him in 3 years.


Lynn May 6, 2016 at 11:13 am

Two years ago, I was hired for a traineeship that was to start three weeks after I gave my notice to my former position within the same agency. The day it was confirmed the job was mine, I was on my way to a family emergency, literally about to board a plane to another state where my son underwent brain surgery. Family had to be with him 24/7 because of seizures, coma etc. for 2 weeks. I reported to duty 2 days after he was stabilized and out of danger. It was the worst experience in my life.
Initially, I was told not to worry, to take care of ‘family’. I had one supervisor who called me in to report that my coworker thought I was being mean to her, yet that same individual (co-worker) would continuously comment on my posture, ask me if I was “okay”, ask me if I was mad when I was engaged in a task, criticize everything from my clothes to my hair, continuously try to pry information about my son (I am very private and no one was supposed to know about those events, but someone had told her, breaking my medical confidential information), and then would always go to the supervisors with her critical observations, making me look incompetent. I was appalled when I was told this during my first review. I was then told that bad things happen to people all the time, I needed to ‘get over it’ and focus on my work. Uniformed staff consistently said my work and assistance was exemplary. However, the immediate supervisor, that coworker, along with the woman in charge of the traineeship program, were critical to the point of abuse. My second review was given to me at the 6-month point, and I was told I was unsatisfactory in my job performance, without warning or instruction on how they wanted things done (in writing). Verbal changes were made daily, and often contradicted agency protocol, but the supervisors refused to put them in writing, saying I was being insubordinate for requesting it. Finally, minutes after completing a huge quarterly project (that was dispersed exactly as I submitted it, throughout the state), I was called in by those two supervisors and told I was not performing up to their expected standard (remember, this was a traineeship, I was supposed to be learning) and was asked to leave. I do want to note that I was given a paid week off before I was required to report to my previous position. State agencies do NOT give out free paid vacations, so I knew that there was serious breach of protocol and a violation of my rights.
I was lucky enough to get a boss who knew the quality of my work and was grateful to have me assigned to him. He periodically calls me aside for no reason except to tell me he truly appreciates my work. It took nearly a year to recover from the psychological effects and damage done to my self-esteem. I could NOT have accomplished that without the support of my current boss, who has my total loyalty and admiration for simply reaffirming what I knew all along, I AM an above-average employee.


Shirley May 5, 2016 at 8:05 pm

I had a boss one time, in a REVIEW, tell me that I didn’t sound professional, because of the way I sneezed. I was apalled that I was told this during a review. The way I sneeze has nothing to do with my job performance. I left the next day. it was apparent, they were “looking” for things to criticize me for, becuase there was nothing wrong with my work, other than the way I sneezed. The boss’s husband inquired as to why I quit so abruptly the next day… I told him to go ask his wife. He begged me to come back and I told him, that he needed to beg his wife for an explanation. Pitiful.


Jenny May 5, 2016 at 6:50 pm

I once had a Manager, who used to micro manage us, everytime we moved or looked like moving he would ask ‘where are you going’ after about 6 months I’d had enough. The next time I got up to go to the toilet he asked across the room in a loud voice, “where are you going?” In a non quite voice I replied “I’m going to the toilet to change my pad would you like to come?”

That was the last time he ever asked me where I was going.


Beth May 5, 2016 at 6:46 pm

I’ve had two bosses who stand out over the past 25 years. The first was a bi-polar alcoholic who refused to take his meds. I was hired on a good day, started work on a manic day when he was yelling at the management staff (I was afraid he was going to burst a blood vessel in his neck!) and looked forward to his depressive days because he’d lock himself in his office to drink and let us do our jobs.
The second was a nice enough guy to work for but had the habit of coming to work, going into his office and lock the door. When he came out he had applied very understated make-up and was wearing women’s underwear under his shirt and tie. I wouldn’t have minded so much but he had prettier bras than I did!


A May 5, 2016 at 5:43 pm

We had a new VP that started firing people to bring in his cronies. He would hire consulting companies in which he was a board member and these companies would overcharge us ($100K in one obvious transaction) or the consultants would duplicate efforts on completed projects and charge us for hours of work. This “team” would bully people to the point of making them sick. Someone found the VP’s internet page where there was proof he was a board member of companies he hired, so a copy was given to HR. He eventually was asked to leave. We heard shortly after he left that the same situation was occurring at the next victim company. Many people were hurt by this team.


Claudia May 5, 2016 at 5:04 pm

I’ve had so many! Probably the most annoying was also the one that received the least amount of respect from any of my co-workers. If he caught anyone looking at a clock, or glancing at their watch, he would yell “A clock watcher is not a top notcher!” Now add to this that he rarely bathed. People would leave a new bar of soap on his desk thinking he might take a hint, and he’d give it to me. The best way to “get back” was to do an assignment the way he demanded, rather than the correct way.


Crsitine Shade May 5, 2016 at 4:48 pm

Years ago the accounting firm I worked for was purchased by another local accountant. His partner was an 80 year old woman who barked orders and yelled her discontent at you. I arrived at the office for my first day there and a client arrived for her. I went to her office to tell her that her client had arrived and she proceeded to yell at me because I hadn’t emailed her and waited for her response. I calmly and politely told her I had just arrived and that it was not OK to yell at me like that. I was laid off within weeks, due to “overstaffing,” and I was very happy to leave that toxic environment.


Pat May 5, 2016 at 4:43 pm

An assistant general counsel who seemed to have all the bad traits one could think of in a boss: always behind on work & asking for extra time or just totally ignoring deadlines, dodging & ignoring phone calls & voice mail, disappearing for hour’s long lunches, taking credit for work that she didn’t do, not answering pages, losing phones & pagers and claiming to never have received them, bringing her sick kids to work (and who then cleaned out the office candy & treats), consistently acting surprised about having a meeting though clearly on her calendar . . . one could go on & on. Oddly enough left the organization for a promotion and I wonder how long it took the new place to catch on.


DeeDee May 5, 2016 at 4:13 pm

A boss who doesn’t know how to greet people in an appropriate manner and says things like “Boo” or “Hey” or “What’s Up” when walking by. I have never worked in an office where the supervisors do not say “good morning” or “Good Night” when entering or exiting for the day and acts as though the staff doesn’t exist. Treats his subordinates with less courtesy and respect than he does the directors of the company and it’s not just this department, it’s rampant within the company.


Mary Przybyl May 5, 2016 at 4:01 pm

Years ago I worked for a lady who was only happy if she was laughing at or making fun of her employees. She thought it was funny to stand behind you while you were working with a customer and call you “dumb”, “moron”, “idiot”, “stupid”, etc. I worked for her almost a year and then she fired me. By the time I left her employment, my self-esteem was so low that when I would go to an interview and be asked what I could do, I literally told them that I didn’t think I could do the job I had applied for. I have a wonderful job that I have been at for 26 years now so ultimately I guess she did me a favor way back then.


Carrie May 5, 2016 at 4:00 pm

I had a Manager who docked your pay if you were not sitting at your desk and working exactly at 9am – didn’t matter if you were in the office or walking down the hallway to your cubicle. If you SAT down at 9:01am, she would document it, add up all the minutes and dock pay at the end of the month.


R May 5, 2016 at 1:26 am

An absolute low life with no standards. Had total contempt for staff. Ignored management protocol. Generally did whatever he wanted to the cost of the individual. Abusive towards fellow managers and staff alike. Issues followed him from the workplace to home because of innapropriate activities. Enjoyed creating harm and stress to individuals. Saw no iinterest in ethics and decentcy. Went about employing significant number of relatives who would they pay rent to live at house.


Gloria May 4, 2016 at 4:15 pm

One new manager would ask multiple people to do the same thing and not let any of us know. Eventually, of course, we found out what he was doing. We were so upset and frustrated at how much of our time was wasted by having us all do the same exact thing, realized he didn’t trust anyone, and we all felt betrayed. This went on for years. If he didn’t agree with company policy, ex; sick days are for medical appointments or lab work, he would want to enforce his own personal views, ex: that the person take a vacation day instead. To him, sick was only if you called out on that day and if someone did, he would knock them and talk about them behind their back. So many endless stories about him being a horrible manager. Needless to say, he was the most hated person in the division I’ve ever known anyone to be in my career. That is quite an accomplishment and still, he thought he did no wrong.


Earl May 4, 2016 at 2:55 pm

My first job as an admin was working under an office manager who was so obsessed with dust that every time we had any downtime at all, we were told to dust the place. I think we spent more time dusting than improving any of our other systems and processes. To this day, I won’t lift a finger at home to help dust because of that boss!


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