How to Deal With Crappy Bosses

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My boss wanted to publicly humiliate me. He came into my office with a bunch of my colleagues. I was very busy playing chess online but I could see he was serious so I clicked away that window and stood up.

“Did you release the newest version product to the client last night?” he asked. The client was Pfizer. The product was software that automatically translated Pfizer technical manuals from English to about five other languages. I wrote the code.

“Yeah,” I said, “like you said I had to or we would be late on our delivery.”

“Well, the client called,” he said, “and they found a bug.”

My colleagues were nodding their heads. One of them must have been called by the client who then proceeded to take out his life’s troubles on her by screaming at her on the phone so she then complained to my boss who was about to take out the fact that he really wanted to beat his wife but I was a convenient second place.

“Ok,” I said.

“So you released a product to the client that had a bug in it,” he said.

“Uhh, yeah, I guess,” I said.

“Let get this straight. You mean to tell me you released this without triple-checking every possibility?” he said.

“Well, I double-checked but I did not triple-check,” I said.

(don't be bullied)

“Are you making a joke? This is a very serious issue. You NEVER EVER RELEASE A PRODUCT WITHOUT TRIPLE CHECKING.” His face was red. Everyone was watching.

“Ok,” I said.

“Ok what?” he said.

“Ok,” I said. “I QUIT.”

Which felt great because just 10 minutes earlier I had gotten off the phone with Rob Martin at HBO who had offered me a job with almost a 50% salary increase (from $28k to $40k) plus $2k in moving expenses.

“Well,” the boss (now “Chris” because he was no longer my boss), “you don’t have to quit. It was just a mistake.”

“No,” I said, “I don’t like being yelled at. You shouldn’t do that to people. I quit.”

Chris looked at me for a second. I think all of my colleagues had their jaws slack and wide open in that Monica Lewinsky way where the whole world could just explode any moment.

“C’mon man,” Chris said, “I was just concerned about the client. But I’m more concerned about whether or not you are happy in the workplace. No hard feelings.”

“That’s ok,” I said, “I don’t ever like being yelled at. So when people yell at me, I quit. You know as well as I do that every bug can’t be checked. You should treat people better. Now,” and I shrugged my shoulders for affect, “I give two weeks notice.”

I never told him I just had gotten an offer. A few months later he had a question about my code and he called about it and I told him I forgot the code completely and couldn’t help him. About six years later when I was running a venture capital firm he called, “hey buddy,” he said and he said he had a business to pitch me. I called him back and left a message. “Super excited to hear about your business. Send me a detailed business plan with description, bios, projections for the next ten years, a passcode to unlock an online demo, you know, all the usual things.” And he did. He put a lot of work into it.

I never called him back. He left repeated messages for about two months. He called my secretary and said he would stay on the phone until I picked up but I never did. I was really immature back then.

Bosses suck. I’ve had some real good bosses (hi Tom!) but mostly really bad bosses. Fortunately, before you finally quit there’s some good ways to deal with them and train them.

Remember BAD BOSSES ARE DOGS and needed to be treated that way.

Here’s very important advice on dealing with a DOG that happens to be your BOSS.

A) never kiss ass – then your DOG knows he can keep stretching the boundaries until you’re on the leash and not him. Never stop by his office just to chat. Never do any brown-nosing. This is the rule from How to Deal with Crappy People”. If your boss is a crappy person then you want to engage as little as possible. Only work stuff. Never joking around. Never anything that builds a meaningful dialogue that he will twist later. Don’t make friends with an animal. This is  not every boss. Just crappy bosses.

(unless you're Dane Cook and your boss is Charlize Theron. Note: if you can't see these images check out jamesaltucher.com)

B) never talk badly behind his back – he will eventually hear. He will also sense it. DOGS are psychic. When you don’t talk badly behind his back his natural suspicions will lessen about you and he will treat you better. Talking badly behind his back  is a passive way of engaging with him and this goes against rule “A” above.

C) always give him credit for everything – DOGS like to be loved. When you do work and give him the full credit then the result could be: promotions for him, which leads to promotions and salary increases for you. Never begrudge when he takes credit for something you did. Everybody already knows it was you. I once had a boss who was promoted to a high level position. Everyone stopped by my desk to congratulate me because they knew what the reasons my boss were promoted for.

D) write a cover-your-ass memo every day describing what you are up to and who you are dealing with –  You need to do this every day: what you do, who you spoke to, etc: so that all blame gets deflected off you. Nothing can stick. When I was running Reset (which made websites and software for Fortune 500 companies) every project manager working for me had to do a cover-your-ass summary to the client of everything they did the day before. Every detail had to be tracked.

(always CYA)

E) build relationships with his network of colleagues and contacts – Eventually your boss is going to try to screw with you. But he can’t get away with it if your network includes his entire network. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. If your boss deals with someone then it’s not hard to ask them for coffee so you can “learn more about their job so you can help them better.” Nobody will say “no” to that and everyone will be grateful when you start helping them.

F) help other employees of your boss with their jobs (without acknowledging at all your feelings about the boss). They are going to want to vent to you. Remember rule “B” above. Don’t let them vent to you. It’s none of your business what their work problems are. This is very important. But help them with their jobs so that when it comes time for everyone to start pointing the finger then you’re the last person they point to.

G) Overdeliver. On anything he asks you to do provide an extra touch. This is how he gets promoted. When you are more creative than him, overdeliver for him, and he gets full credit. Then he gets promoted. Then you get promoted.

(I have no reason for putting this image here)

H) What’s your market value? You know that BS phrase “Always be selling?” It’s sort of true: Always be Selling Yourself! Always be applying for new jobs for two reasons. The job market is like any other market: prices are ruled by supply and demand. So you always want to know your market value. Information is power. The second reason is that it gives you a good plan B if you need to leave. Ideally you leave before you leave. i.e. freelance and generate multiple streams of income so you know you can afford to quit.

G) Then quit.

 Here are “10 Reasons You Need to Quit Your Job Right Now

And finally, here are “10 Things You Need to Do if You Were Hired Today

Corporate America is almost by definition an exploitative environment. They pay you less then they make from your services. So you have to make sure that if you are going to let them get away with it then they can’t take advantage of you and that if they treat you badly you have other options.

I have more about this in my recent book “I WAS BLIND BUT NOW I CAN SEE”

Please tell me your worst boss stories in the comments below!

And follow me on Twitter.

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  • Anonymous

    Second job I had out of college was at a telecommunications startup. Mostly young people, except for my boss. Very old school, smarmy, former sales manager for a salt company. Yes, he sold salt. How he got the job of sales manager for a telco company, I will never know. I learned early on that meetings and memos were BS, so avoided both at all costs. One day, I had no choice but to write a few memos for CYA purposes, mostly. (This was back before email. God, I’m old.) 

    He came running out to me with his copies in hand and says, “Wow, you have really been working!”

    It was impossible to have a solo conversation with our founder and CEO when old Bill was around. He would suddenly appear next to the founder, butting in to the conversation. 

    We got bought out a couple of years after the company got started. Old Bill got canned then had a massive coronary a year or so later and died. The CEO cashed out and did not live up to the promises that he made to the rest of us.

    The startup was a blast for the first 3 years, but went downhill rapidly after the buyout.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NDIJ2XC2HF2URXXHTWPSPXZW2U Sheque

    More often than not, the dogs are also manipulators. Learn the trade, and manipulate them back.

    And James, the part of building networks with his contacts is very true. I can speak fron experience.

    This article is cool, and you rock!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Sheque, thanks a lot. I’m glad you agree with the building the network part. that part is difficult (you have to always work around your boss to basically replicate hisnetwork) but itpays off.

  • http://jimgrey.wordpress.com/ jim

    Any manager of people who write code who doesn’t realize that any program larger than Hello World is GOING to have bugs in it should be fired.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I wonder if I agree with that. I’ve had managers who weren’t coders but understood the dynamics of coding and were good at pushing people who were creative. But, in general, I think you are right. It takes a special non-coder to manage coders.

      • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

        ” It takes a special non-coder to manage coders.”

        Truer words never spoken.  We consider coders, artists.

      • Anonymous

        bad coders make better coder managers than good coders

        • Moshkosh

          my coder is bigger than your coder

    • Cheldear

      Few people are actually qualified to manage people.  If they even get training, they are still not capable.  It takes a specific character to be able to handle people.  Companies are not designed to delineate between those who manage resources (things) and those who manage people.  Okay, that’s a broad statement.  But most companies do not do a good job; they are short on time, and they make poor decisions, or there is some kind of good ole boy network in place.  This is the main problem that causes so many issues wrt people management.

  • http://twitter.com/UptheMtn Discovery

    Pfizer Schmizer- Jimmy

  • Bobobrian

    AWESOME! A big F-U to the boss!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645475515 Reg Ching

    Great article as always James. I used to send off 5 resumes every week or two just to see what my market value was. This gave me the confidence to quit if I needed to. It came in handy when a company I worked for was bought and a new pay structure was introduced that cut my commission and bonuses in half.

    I enjoyed faxing my resignation and leaving at 12 noon on a Wednesday afternoon knowing I had 2 potential employers lined up already.

    The new company eventually lost 5 of their top sales managers after I left and was up for sale shortly after.

    • http://www.writervixen.com Deborah Hymes

      Inspiring story! And great advice. ;)

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Thanks Reg. Shows that it’s always good to know your market value and keep your hand in the flow.

  • http://www.writervixen.com Deborah Hymes

    Wow, this takes me back! Difficult to call the tie.

    My first job out of college, there was the boss who fired me because I discovered that she was embezzling from the company. I discovered this when she attempted to make me an accomplice, and when I declined she correctly assumed that I wouldn’t keep her secret. Her boss (the married/father owner of the company) was having an affair with her and backed her play when I went over her head. She was later fired, prosecuted and convicted.

    A few years later there was the schizo, bi-polar boss who *tried* to fire me because I drew a boundary and refused to accept his abusive behavior any longer. He underestimated my relationship with his network — I actually got *him* fired within 6 weeks by repeating his comments about his boss directly to his boss, who greatly appreciated the info. To this day he still doesn’t know why or how he lost his job. 

    Your advice is excellent, insightful and entertaining, as usual!

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Deborah, wow. You’ve had some really bad situations but I’m going to go ahead and vote for the first as being REALLY BAD. That one is a novel.

      • http://www.writervixen.com Deborah Hymes

        True! And that was just the last, worst thing she did. ;)

        The second one illustrates the power and truth of B and E. Great object lesson on both counts.

    • Cheldear

      Right?  I’ve had the stapler thrower, the psycho, but everywhere I have gone, this is what I have found:

      If you want to create ecstatic customers, DON’T.  One of  my bosses called me into his office.

      He said to me, “I need you to stop doing the job that you are doing; the rest of the staff can’t do everything that you are doing for the customers, and they have started expecting the same service from the rest of the group that you are providing.” 

      My reply to him was:

      “Does the rest of the group know how you feel about them?” 

      He looked at me funny, because his intent was to punish me.  He had no idea that he had just belittled the entire support group.  I told him, “you know, I’m not special.  I’m not magic.  I just give a damn.  There’s nothing I do that they can’t do.  I am proactive; not reactive.  So if I set the bar, and the customers expect the same, don’t ask me to step it down; look at what I am doing and raise the bar.  Use me as a model.”

      So my new “name” became “loose canon”.  My “friend” who was like me; we decided we were “mavericks” instead, always looking for ways to do things better.

      This has been my life in corporate.  I learned never to try to make things better.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t live under this structure, so I had to leave corporate.  I was unwilling to change how I did business, no matter how corporate did business.  I would  not compromise my morals.

    • Cheldear

      Oh and one more thing.  I would get the most quarterly awards from customers year after year.  Eventually, I was accused of “bribing” the customers for the awards.  As if I needed to.  I couldn’t care less about the awards.  They were ridiculous anyway, and worth nothing.

      For me, the pride of making my customers ecstatic was enough.  But sitting at a conference table with my entire group and getting accused of bribing customers for something so stupid was enough for me to blow up at a coworker who frankly had it in for me from day one (we  had started the same day.)

      • Moshkosh

        I wold hire you on the spot.  Jealous, insecure people make horrible bosses….and heads of state.

  • http://www.preemptiveplacebo.com Preemptive Placebo

    Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all constantly making a mental calculation.  We look at coworkers and calculate how badly they NEED the job.  Bad bosses use this calculation to push the employee right up to the limit that need will permit. 

    Even so-so bosses will assign the crap jobs to those who are desperate because of a large mortgage, unemployed spouse, consumer debt or other obligations.  We all intuitively know that this is the stuff that turns us into modern-day slaves.   

    To avoid becoming a slave always, always, always promote the idea that you DO NOT NEED the job.  I am not suggesting that anyone should lie.  Just don’t volunteer information.  You have no mortgage.  No car payments.  No debt.  A successful spouse.  A perfect marriage.  Fully funded college accounts for your kids.  If coworkers ask direct questions, be evasive or say that your parents taught you that it is not polite to talk about money. 

    In short, keep your motivations a mystery.  That way they can’t use them against you.

    • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

      Good advice, however if an employee is too elusive that can raise red flags as well. 

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I used to do this trick. About once a month I would wear a SUIT to work. I NEVER wore a suit. I was the worst dresser of all. But if i wore a suit, the boss would assume I was going on an interview at some point during the day and would get a little nervous.

      • Chironis

        I do this occasionally so that when i do go on one it doesn’t raise suspicions

      • Chironis

        I do this occasionally so that when i do go on one it doesn’t raise suspicions

    • Maggie

       I don’t think this will work. Act hyper-vigilant over everything and overworked all the time. Act scared and desperate for the job. Remember it’s just acting and you can avoid doing any real work while doing it. Don’t really feel it. This is your best bet for getting ahead or just keeping your job. Bosses hate it when you are in control of your work and cool if they are not. I wish I figured this out sooner.

  • rumiat

    Would love to red your book, any chance of getting source link to an ebook? Sadly it won’t reach where I am :(.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      Send me your email address.

      • Chris

        James, have you thought about using e-junkie.com to sell the ebook from your own site as well as AMZN?

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    I don’t think people who hate their bosses can ever really keep it a secret. 

    I even hear boss-bashing in the elevators, in the grocery line, at restaurants, in restrooms….they talk freely as if no one in the world knows anyone else.

    I know you have “B” listed, but people vent…..all the time.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      It’s true. i think “B” is very hard but it’s very important for ultimate sanity. Life only gets worse ocne the boss knows you are complaining about him. But it gets better if you don’t engage in any dance with him/her in any way and that even means behind his back.

  • http://tvblogster.blogspot.com Boop

    Years ago,I landed a position in a British television company in New York. It was a a dream come true. I went to work happy, fascinated by the programming and eager to participate with the team as best I could. I worked for a VP who was nice, but ineffectual. One of her direct reports was a Director, 28 years old, who somehow bypassed all the grunt work jobs to get where she was. This was 1993 – and computers were ubiquitous tools in the work place as they are now. This young Director would waste time by having me sit in her office taking dictation on all her memos, whiich was accompanied by a pretty nasty attitude if I offered ideas or suggestions.  After 3 months, I suggested to her that in order to save time, perhaps she should directly write her memos on her computer, and I’d make sure it looked great before it was printed out and sent to a client. Even her own boss mentioned this to her. (She was wasting my time, taking me away from working with the VP). No way…she wasn’t having it.

    Then, one day – she called me into her office and played a weird mind game. Despite being eager, proactive, and quite content in the job, she suddenly told ME I looked unhappy. Confused, I asked her how so? I was thrilled to work with the shows I had admired, and despite making the normal errors of a novice happy to learn, she couldn’t give me an answer. The poison was introduced, and I realized that by making a suggestion about using a computer, something she didn’t know how to use, I had made a direct hit on her insecurity – the fact she had failed up and never learned the basic skills a lowly assistant such as myself had mastered. The writing was on the wall as things got worse, day by day – until I was “laid off”….The VP did nothing to help me, despite offering her sympathy. She let the Director steamroll me. They gave me an option to stay for 2 weeks and help them to prepare for a major television conference which is a notorious headache to plan. I said – no.

    I’ve looked within and after all these years have tried to be honest with myself. Perhaps I wasn’t that good, or wasn’t as proactive as I should have been, or maybe the mistakes I made were careless.  It was a predominately female office, and I felt I had some support from managers who were my friends, but I felt shunned by the ladies who had their own offices – like I wasn’t accepted into the “Mean Girls” club. Women need to support other women in the workplace a bit more. Luckily I went on to another job with mostly women, to find there is support out there. (And everyone at that British TV job were fired two years later).

    • doug graves

      That was just a passive agressive attack.  I’ve got a son in law who told me about doing it to his boss.  The boss asked him why something hadn’t been done.  He asked him if  he was okay, did he need to talk, etc.  Wrote a memo to his boss’s boss and HR expressing concern for the boss.  Asked around if anybody else was concerned about the boss.  A week later he was called into the boss’s office.  The boss asked him why he was talking about him.  He responded, “You seem out of control… Are you okay?.. I’m concerned about you.”  The boss exploded on him, all recorded on his smartphone memo app.  A week later the boss announced he was taking stress leave.  There are very smart, sick people out there.  James’ advice is great advice. 

  • Cheldear

    And then, there are the places for which I have worked.  They are completely corrupt, and these are the biggies.  And yes, Pfizer has been my client as well.  My boss’ peers were all corrupt; the entire line up to the C-level execs were corrupt.  Keeping a CYA journal didn’t help the witch hunt.  They didn’t back us, and made us take the fall for everything.  And god forbid we go to HR.  NEVER go to HR.  I wish I could put together a list of things to tell kids coming out of college.  I mean, I could, but they wouldn’t listen.  Top of list: What you learn in theory and what the real world is are two completely different animals.

    Don’t trust HR, and don’t trust your line of management.  Trust no one but yourself, CYA, and get everything in writing.

    In the end, you will be the one who suffers.  And if you ever try to write an email after getting something verbally, paranoia will hit management and they will think you are talking to lawyers.

    You cannot win, so always have an exit strategy. ALWAYS.  Corporate America is the bane of your existence.  Get out as fast as possible, and never listen to what they teach you in university about it.  Because they are lying to you.   

    • Maggie

       I was such a naive fool to believe that HR was there to help with an abusive, bad boss. And this was a 5000 employee consulting firm and one their consulting branches was in HR. They were such arrogant body sphincters!

  • Anonymous

    I had a really confrontational ex-boss who tried to humiliate me infront of my subs during one of my meetings. I didn’t tolerate it and turned it around on her, making her look fairly ignorant. She didn’t take too kindly to that, and wanted to discipline me (take me to HR or worse). Unfortunately for her I had a really good reputation for knowing my stuff and getting things done, but also had a reputation of being aggressive. She was going to use the latter against me. But once I leaked to her confidant (who was a friend of mine too) I had a detailed file on her, highlighting her ‘pros’ and ‘cons’, (4 pages deep, 80% filled of cons) her threat of action mysteriously ended.

  • http://zacharygrove.wordpress.com Zach

    Hey James, bought your last book paperback but I always read the pdf you emailed me…is there an available pdf version of “I Was Blind But Now I See”?

    • Anonymous

      I’d second that. Kindle, PDF, whatever electronic version in plans? US book delivery here in the wild is kind of an issue.

    • Anonymous

      I’d second that. Kindle, PDF, whatever electronic version in plans? US book delivery here in the wild is kind of an issue.

  • http://economicdisconnect.blogspot.com/ GYSC

    Did the same thing one time. Boss just got back after being out sick for 3 months, wanted to make a “splash”. Singled me out for no reason, I went over the data to show that was the case, she still wrote me up. Walked out, never even said I quit.

  • pjc

    It’s hard to believe that super-talented guys like you were getting paid such small sums of money and being treated with such crap. What a sad time all around.

    Good for you to move on.

  • Kjp712

    One of my main goals in life was to never have a Boss hovering around me.That goal was reached 6 years ago.Most bosses  that I had were not very smart and only got their position through attrition and boot-licking.The best thing about trading for myself is looking around the room in the morning and not seeing two beady eyes watching me.Bosses yell at employees when their own kids have already tuned them out and their spouses turn up the T.V. when they talk.When you turn your back on bosses forever,turn your head and smile.

  • Kjp712

    One of my main goals in life was to never have a Boss hovering around me.That goal was reached 6 years ago.Most bosses  that I had were not very smart and only got their position through attrition and boot-licking.The best thing about trading for myself is looking around the room in the morning and not seeing two beady eyes watching me.Bosses yell at employees when their own kids have already tuned them out and their spouses turn up the T.V. when they talk.When you turn your back on bosses forever,turn your head and smile.

  • doug

    It is corporate life in general that is crappy. I’ve had crappy bosses and have become one myself at times, but it’s just a survival instinct that drives you to push people beyond their current capabilities.

    • Mike Periboob

      It is the job of the boss to get as much good work from the team members as possible. It is (part of) the subordinate’s job to let the boss know when he has asked too much. It makes life much easier on both if you can go talk to the boss, explain what you are doing, what you think the deadlines and priorities are, and ask for guidance on what to put on hold. I guess not all jobs or bosses are amenable to this, but if honesty like this causes a problem, do you really need this job?

  • doug

    It is corporate life in general that is crappy. I’ve had crappy bosses and have become one myself at times, but it’s just a survival instinct that drives you to push people beyond their current capabilities.

  • http://twitter.com/yodamantras yoda quotes

        If management is reward, bad bosses will be. Manager must be trained before manager can manage people or risk failure the company will.

  • Anonymous

    FWIW – I’ve worked a LOT of places, big and small (too many to be honest) and the places where middle level managers are allowed to wreak havoc with their narcissistic horseshit all have one thing in common — publicly traded and been in business too long (work for a baby bell for a week, or HP and you’ll see what I mean).

    Narcissism is rewarded all too often in Corpo-America.

  • http://www.plinky.com/people/five23 Ike Unlisted

    Moved to the city when I was 24. Saved some bank tens of millions over three years, for 25k/year. No college degree. I outperformed everyone. Child’s play. Was rewarded with threats of physical violence. I quit on the spot and left town, six weeks ago. It was either that or start breaking people’s ribs.

    So now I am young, intelligent, physically fit, voluntarily unemployed, and voluntarily homeless. Not so much pissed off as I am just monumentally disappointed. And disinterested. I don’t want another job. Government and businesses alike are full of monsters. I would sooner withhold my abilities from the world than serve those predatory bastards. Hell, I’d sooner jump off a building.

    Ultimately, I disagree with the TOS. I don’t even care about money. No deal. There’s not a salary or incentive in the world. Maybe there’s something defective about me. Or maybe it’s all just one big joke. We’ll see.

    • Anthony

      Ike before you kill yourself what is it you do? I promise you if it is nothing I can take advantage of I will let you jump ;-)

      Anthony.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a boss story, never do their dirty work. 

    I was asked my opinion on a project that had been done at the company before i was working for them, I told them my honest opinion, 

    “spending £15m on IBM servers and software, without the software development and sys admin staff to run them was crazy” 

    We could do what they needed to do with a few cheap Linux boxes and a couple of contract staff, that took down the CTO and one of the business directors, but left the instigator of the project still on the group board, where my boss joined him. 

    After a few years of political merry-go-rounds I ended up as a direct report to the guy that started the doomed project and he made my life hell for a year then made me redundant as soon as he legally could…the guy who’s dirty work i’d done continued up the ladder until he made a similar mistake and was then culled…

  • https://www.guarantorloansonline.co.uk Alex

    Haha great article and such truth. I am lucky enough to have a great team to work with currently with very down to earth bosses. However in the past I wish I had these tips to go by, probably why I don’t  work there anymore.

  • jtrade

    I manage a group of software developers and also manage network and desktop support engineers and techs. I am not boss of the year, I think my people management skills are marginal at best as I tend to think most people should perform at my level and I am easily irritated by petty BS.   I look at a big part of my job as making sure that they have the resources necessary to do their jobs, I don’t expect anyone to work a ton of hours and try to give them as much support and flexibility in their jobs as possible.   On the flip side I also expect people to do their dam jobs and do what they say they are going to do.   

    Managing adults is the equivalent to working in a daycare, case and point.   I used to have this developer who would walk in to my office at least once a week to tell me how horrible it was because he and this other developer in a separate group that he never had to work with did not get along and how it was making his life horrible, finally my response to him was that he needed to grow up and move past this petty issue that was created when the other developer said he didn’t like the way the way this developer did something.  I am so thankful this developer ended up quitting :).     

    • Cheldear

      Your job as a people manager is to enable people to do their jobs successfully, no matter what the problem is.

      It isn’t about your pride or what their problems are, no matter how petty or screwed up.  It’s not about your perspective or your opinion.

      Your job is to find out what makes your people happy.  Your job is to take your opinion out of the equation.

      Your sole purpose as a people manager is to enable productivity to flourish in the environment.

      If two people in two different groups are indeed having issues, then it’s your responsibility to find out if the issues are real or not, and what the basis of the issues are.

      Your job is to mitigate those issues outside of your opinion.

      If you honestly believe that your people management skills were marginal at best, then it was your responsibility to make sure your company knew that and to obtain training on how to create productivity in your environment and understand the goal of managing people.

      It’s not at all about your and your perspective, thoughts or beliefs about any individual.  It’s all about them.  Regardless of what you think about them, you must learn what makes each individual tick, and make sure that they get what they need on a daily basis, no matter how stupid you think it is, because it’s important to them.

      That’s how you foster a productive team.

      Otherwise, you are self-serving, and your team dwindles into non-productivity, and you are the one that looks like an asshole.

      People management and project management have nothing to do with having skills in the arena in which your people work.  Always know that.

  • http://twitter.com/HGhouleh Hussein Ghouleh

    I once was the reason for breaking 2 office phone, and a chair from the company CEO just because I forgot to tell a client about a stopover for 30 minutes in a flight direct to the US…. my response was, well..practically a stopover is good for his health since i believe he’s over 60…hehe

    • Cheldear

      hehe.

      In my last company (very large), in my group, which had been acquired, our project managers were required to check out of the hospital AMA if they were not in critical condition to show up to client sites on Monday.  This also included the technical consultants (myself). 

      I was in a VERY bad car accident in a rural area between two major cities in North Carolina.  Shaken up and harassed by the police, I showed up the next day on a client site after no sleep, bruises and contusions all over my body, and my work couldn’t have cared less.  They didn’t even give me time to go and get a doctor look-over.

      That was the end of a very long spiral down of my career there, because they promised the client something that they weren’t supposed to – something I wasn’t even supposed to do.  I got blamed for it, even though my company ended up demanding I do it.

      It was a spec-d out 400  man  hour project that my jerk 2nd line manager promised I would do in 40 hours instead.  I didn’t even know about it when I went onsite.  It was work I wasn’t even allowed to do.

      Then, I was forced to do it.  Turned into a 800 hour project for free, contingent on a 2M signing for product.

      When the company complained about me for the time spent, my company fired me.

      Fun, huh?

  • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

    I am off to work now, going to tell my boss to shove it. I always have to do the crappy parts of the business, and most of the time I don’t get paid enough.  I work more hours than is allowed by law, and I never get a vacation.  When I am sick I’m my boss says I still have to do my work.  It’s awful.

    It’s like being a mom or something like that, but it’s not that. It is in addition to that. Plus, if I say anything at all it won’t make any difference. 

    I may as well be talking to myself…………….

  • http://twitter.com/ginger_gal Ginger_gal

    Very good article.  One issue though…it seems that the crappy boss wins until nobody wants to work for him/her. The problem is crappy bosses are good to some people who do “kiss ass” and not so good to others.

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      The problem with kissing ass is you leave a part of your soul there.

      • route66

        and smear your lipstick

      • route66

        and smear your lipstick

  • http://www.szelhamos.com TheAcsMan

    Only recently in human history has there been even the slightest change in the boss/employee relationship, which was always based on master/slave (and this comes from an unrequited capitalist)

    Yelling is just a vestige of far worse and a re-inforcement of dominance, especially when done in open.

    Great decision to have given immediate notice and particularly great to have done so in the open. Doing so bought the master down a notch and energized the slaves.

    Of course, the best part is the passive revenge years later. Never lose the immaturity.

    • Anonymous

      Some bosses realize that you can catch more flies with honey and vinegar. They motivate through positive reinforcement. But I’ve heard lots of stories about the yelling and tantrum kind who use fear as a motivator.
      Not really different from parenting styles.

      • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

        In any situation where the outcome is important to you you have a choice betweeen gravitating towards “hope” and “dread”. i.e. I’m “hopeful” the outcome works out ok. I’m “fearful” the outcome works out bad. I think bosses use a similar barometer. Unfortunately too much “dread” works out to a dreadful life .

  • http://www.mackatz.com Mac Katz

    You went from H to G. What’s with that? You forget to triple check again?

    • http://jamesaltucher.com James Altucher

      I should fire myself.

      • Mike Periboob

        And where you say ” If your boss deals with someone then it’s not hard to ask them for coffee… ” I think you mean “ask them TO coffee”. If you ask you boss’s buddy to “get me a cup of coffee” it might go down wrong.

  • ama

    The good thing about having several jobs is that when a great boss comes around, you really appreciate it. My first boss (I now realize in hindsight) was terrific, and I was too young to imagine what horrible bosses were in my future and didn’t really respect her. Now I work for three really kind bosses who pay me well and appreciate what I do, and in return I work like mad to make them look good.

  • Mike Periboob

    Looking at these stories, I think “What is wrong with me?” Two years in construction work in college, 20 years in the Air Force, 15 as a beltway bandit. I cant remember a crappy boss, and I never had to kiss ass. Had several who were obvious personality disorders, but they were easy to satisfy once you figured out what they wanted. One was a screamer who threw things, but he had a kid who was seriously handicapped, so I cut him a lot of slack. Dont mean that it was always a picnic, but I never had a boss or a job that I really hated. I guess when you are working with nukes and such, you dont meet many crazy people.

    There was one particularly nice period though. I gave six months notice at the last job, to give them time to train a replacement, man were they pleasant when they realized that they needed me more than I needed them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_U2G6L6LFHAZOSWWTIDOX2DCOP4 Russell Taylor

    I cant stand it when people call me “Buddy.” Its a passive aggressive attempt at infantalizing and dominating someone. Every person that calls me buddy when I meet them I call them “Sport.”

    • http://736hundred.tumblr.com/ 736hundred

      What would you do if they called you “babe” or “hon” or “doll” or “sweetie”  ?

      • Anthol

        You call them “Sugar Tits”, of course!

  • Mike Periboob

    Posted out of place, then I fixed it, but I cant figure out how to delete a post.

  • http://twitter.com/AlanaKennedy Alana

    Being able to quit when your boss is an asshole is a dream scene that we all run through at some point.  I am kind of envious.

  • http://twitter.com/fbliss Fred Bliss

    Great story, it reminds me of the day I was fired and smiled through the whole thing, not a forced smile, but a genuinely happy smile.  I was fired for emailing my wife and asking her if I could quit, on a day I was frustrated.  They then claimed I set an inappropriate price for re-manufactured toner cartridges, but the truth was I given the ability to set pricing to compete, and that was all I had done, so basically, their rules suddenly didn’t apply. As far as the work environment – it included the business owner, a grotesque hairy grease ball of a guy who loved to “teach” you by asking you questions he knew you didn’t have the answer to and the delighting in his ability to correct you and absolutely loved micromanaging.  Also in my direct line of reporting were the VP who looked like an alien, acted like one, put eyeliner on the perimeter of her eyes to accentuate her alien features and had a love for wearing cat-in-the-hat ties.  Besides that were fairly normal people, but these two were unholy, strange and completely unfit as bosses.  I boldly stated that “this company won’t make it past 2008”.  That was 2006.  It was sold by the spring of 2008 to a local competitor after continued loss of business and failure to meet client expectations, and I’m sure, significant turnover within the company. It probably didn’t help that I also sent a company-wide email lambasting the owner for his management skills, and the leadership in general for lacking training of any sort.

  • AFan

    Let’s say having your kids are amongst the greatest moments in your life.  And meeting your wife is up there too.  

    Where does telling your toxic boss that you quit as he/she’s yelling at you rank?  That’s gotta be WAY up there, right?

  • Bobobrian

    James – I really want to read your new book. I love your writing is there a link?

  • Bobobrian

    James – I really want to read your new book. I love your writing is there a link?

  • shivastears

    you will certainly enjoy this – “5 reasons to keep your job no matter how much you hate it: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/businessinsider/~3/5ruBXll81IY/job-quit-2011-09

  • Guest

    James I want to be one of those guys who builds a startup and sells it for X hundred million dollars 3 years later. How can I make that happen?

    • Jeff

      If you need to ask then you don’t have the drive to succeed

  • http://moneyopenwater.com Steven Adams

    Luckily my worst boss ever (I could tell just from the interview) never officially became my boss. I had moved from North Carolina to D.C. right after college, seemed appropriate since I was a poli sci major. On my very first interveiw for some sort of sales job the interviewer (but thank god not future boss) literally opened and read his mail as I tried to persuade him I deserved the job. 

    I was MUCH younger then. Now I would just walk out of the room, but at the time it felt like one of the most humiliating experiences I’d had, still is I guess.  Thinking back he was probably just testing me for the sales job to see if I had any cajones, but still a jerk move. 

  • Anonymous

    You guys in IT/software have such cute bad boss stories!

    About six years ago, I was working for a small plastics manufacturer in Maryland.  Some choice moments in the Plant Manager’s term there:

    1) Passing the Shift Maintenance Leader in the hall, noticing his smile, asking if he’s having a good day.  “Sure am!”  “Then I’m not doing my job.  Get the hell back to work!”

    2) Firing the head of the maintenance department for taking an unscheduled day off so he could be at the hospital when his wife went into labor with their first child.

    3) Faced with disappointing sales numbers (again) for the quarter, when screaming red-faced during the managers’ meeting failed to improve reality, he removed his shoe and banged it on the table for emphasis, then threw it across the table, hitting the sales manager in the head.  This was my second week at this job.

    4) Calling a meeting to “rally the troops” in the face of the company’s financial troubles, to the managers, engineers, and shift leaders, he said he had total faith in the dedication of the managers and engineers, but he doubted that the operators really cared because “if they really cared about anything, they would have gone to college and got a degree and made something of themselves.”

    5) Staring at his reflection in the mirror in his office shouting, “I an a crazy motherfucker and this is my plant!  I can do whatever the fuck I want and no one can touch me!”  Our HR manager quit an hour later.

    That boss was the only time I ever saw a manager of that level get openly fired.  The company president sent a memo to all employees at the plant saying, “I fired X today.  I hope to have you a suitable replacement shortly. In the interim, Y will assume his responsibilities.”

    I got laid off a few months later.  It made me happy.

    To this day, that place sets my defining reference point for a crappy work environment.  I have never seen its equal.

  • Robert

    If you have a good boss, enjoy them while they are
    there.  They will be gone soon. 

    If you have a bad boss, hang in there. They will be gone
    soon.

    If you have a mediocre boss, do your job they will be gone
    soon.

    I have learned this after almost 40 years in corporate America. 

    • Maggie

      I’ve had one good boss and seven bad ones over the last 30 years.

  • Robert

    If you have a good boss, enjoy them while they are
    there.  They will be gone soon. 

    If you have a bad boss, hang in there. They will be gone
    soon.

    If you have a mediocre boss, do your job they will be gone
    soon.

    I have learned this after almost 40 years in corporate America. 

  • Agneaux

    My last boss was an overbearing, micromanaging control freak. I was not allowed to talk to the people I worked with, even to get quick info that would help him. I could not do anything without him telling me to do it. I spent several weeks one time counting the dots on the ceiling tiles because he had forgotten to assign me any tasks. I learned MS-Access and HTML coding in self-defense until he found out and went ballistic. I finally got a promotional opportunity in another Dept., and now I am a first-line boss, but I am not like him. I just have another micromanaging control freak for a supervisor…

  • Agneaux

    My last boss was an overbearing, micromanaging control freak. I was not allowed to talk to the people I worked with, even to get quick info that would help him. I could not do anything without him telling me to do it. I spent several weeks one time counting the dots on the ceiling tiles because he had forgotten to assign me any tasks. I learned MS-Access and HTML coding in self-defense until he found out and went ballistic. I finally got a promotional opportunity in another Dept., and now I am a first-line boss, but I am not like him. I just have another micromanaging control freak for a supervisor…

  • Moshkosh

    This guy has some interesting research about narcissists and psycopath in management positions.

    http://www.hare.org/links/saturday.html

  • Moshkosh

    When Psychopaths Go to Work: Cons, Bullies and the Puppetmaster  by  Bob Hare

  • http://www.writervixen.com Deborah Hymes

    One of my favorite Twitter accounts is @CrappyBoss (http://twitter.com/#!/CrappyBoss). James, is that you?  =))

  • Digihayes

    Machine Translation doesn’t work. So of course the software was buggy.

  • anonymouse

    Is there ever an excuse for a boss to start yelling at people? What about a business partner?

    I’m just now moving myself out of a bad business partnership where I’m basically a battered wife. once I started hanging out with other entrepreneurs more I realized that I was getting the shaft. 

    “You mean your partner doesn’t break down and throw things?!”

  • PwtihaQ

    Open the latests newspaper, highlight several potential jobs, fold the paper neatly, leave it on the desk highlights face up, and then go for a quick lunch.  If you have a private office, leave it on your secretary’s desk or credenza.  The office atomosphere warms up to tropical temps.

  • Pmrcamargo

    How about a “How-To-Deal-With-Crappy-Partners?

    • anonymouse

      Hell ya. At the age of 30 I’ve been through hell for the last several years with the craziest “partner” one has ever come across. I could write a book on this guy, and it would actually be an interesting read because he’s a helluva antagonist.

  • Motormind

    Bless you :)

    More points please!!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve had some truly lousy bosses. I could go on for hours about them. But it’s all behind me now and I no longer dwell on them except to try not to be like them.

    Even so, the worst of the worst of past bosses can’t even come close to the abuse I’ve encountered as a supervisor. That’s when I really learned just how mean, sick, and malicious people can be. Being a boss is no picnic!

  • http://customresearchpaper.net/ custom research paper

    what a great post! thanks a lot to the author for sharing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rvalongboard Dustin Smith

    My first job ever was in the cubicle next to Peter Gibbons (See Office Space). I had a scanner machine and it was my job to scan in three part carbon contracts and upload them to the corporate server.

    Our cubicles were in a double wide office trailer, inside a dark warehouse in an even darker section of town. My scanner was about how you would imagine a fax machine in a double wide office trailer, inside a dark warehouse, in a dark side of town. Not a flatbed scanner to say the least. For every one page of contract I got scanned in, three pages were either spit back out at me, or scanned improperly and rejected by the server.

    It paid well for a first job at $10/hour. It was worth it, at least until I went on vacation. I returned to my cubicle, in our doublewide office trailer, in that dark warehouse in said dark part of town from a month of chasing women, drinking and surfing to about three hundred of those evil little carbon laden sons of bitches.

    And that’s when I quit my first job.

    My next go around was on the sales force of one of those big box stores. My boss was a homosexual. I’m not pointing fingers, I know it’s true because he came in to work one early morning with our Verizon sales guy and they had switched pants. He had a thing for me as well which made my job easier. I stayed there for 5 years before I quit to start my own company.

    I’ve never looked back.

  • CS

    I worked for the city of springfield MA – one of the most corrupt cities in the northeast – right in city hall. The CIO was the former CIO for the state of rhode island and was fired under suspicious circumstances ( *cough* bribes *cough*). While at springfield he went and bought everything the city didn’t need – kickbacks. He offered me a bribe my second week there (” how’d you like your little bonus *wink* *wink* ). He retired suddenly and they promoted two guys with political ties to the mayor Sarno (mafia family). One guy is an incompetent homosexual psychopath..the other is mafia relation – runs a little cash-discounted contacting business on the side with a crew of illegals.

    Worst job ever – I’ve never seem more corrupt incompetence in my life

    • Mike

      Wow, CS.  That’s where I grew up.  I have since moved away but always think about moving back to be near family.  If _that’s_ what I have to look forward to upon return, I think I’d rather find a way to just visit on an extended basis!

  • Stefano

    “Corporate America is almost by definition an exploitative environment. They pay you less then they make from your services.”
    Sorry James, but this is true for all working environment (and I think capitalism in general).
    Why should someone hire you if you produce less than you receive?

  • Herb

    I have to say, I love your blog.  Introduced by way of LRJ.  I love your attitude, which is rare, yet happens to be very similar to mine.  Unfortunately, I’ve been less successful.  I get a job, I’m treated like shit, I quit.  Doesn’t help for the resume/application for the next job.  However, I’ve decided to make a resume where I do exactly what you said, sell myself, not my history.  I know my value, it’s time that everyone else is made clearly aware of it as well.

  • Amk2511

    A few years ago, I went for an interview at a “law firm,” after having quit my prior firm to start my own practice.  I was looking to do some part-time work, and had experience in exactly what they were looking for, or so I thought.  After waiting in the lobby for about 15 minutes, a young associate/lackey walked me into a conference room and gave me a questionnaire to fill out.  It was long, about 150 or more questions, and after looking at it decided not to fill it out (I thought that I didn’t need to because I was different, because I only wanted part-time work, that I could do from my own office, or something like that- I know, I was a little naive).  Plus, I had answered a long personality test for the Church of Scientology some years earlier (they determined that I was depressed and unhappy, which was barely true), and had developed a pretty strong aversion to those kinds of things.  Finally, the lackey came back and escorted me to the partner’s corner office- he didn’t stand up or come from around his desk,or even shake my hand, but asked why I didn’t want to take his test?  I said something about having taken lots of tests, including the bar exam.  Lots of lawyers are idiots, he said, and I couldn’t disagree.  But I said you should be able to tell if I’m an idiot after talking to me for 10 minutes.  We grappled for a while, then I left.  When I got into the elevator, I laughed out loud, because I realized this was just another place where the owner wants his employees to worship him, and it was just a screening process.  I’m glad he didn’t offer me a job, because I was under financial strain and may have accepted it.   

  • Deuce

    Here’s a rule to trump all others.

    BE IN CHARGE OF YOUR LIFE FOR YOU.

    Yes you have to do something to make money.  But when you make it don’t squander it. Especially on breakfasts and coffee with people you hope will replenish it someday.  Thisis diminishing returns.  Become the company of yourself.  Save your best decision making for YOUR enterprise of yourself.  Manage YOUR money better than the company’s when the choice is presented.  Never spend a day NEEDING a job.  Plan ahead and you’ll be surprised how quickly you can get to this point.  Save a year’s salary in your first 3-4 years and never touch it.  Supplement it or invest some of it over time so that you NEVER need a job, or at least can walk away from a bad one on a second’s notice. 

    All of these rules are about gaming a silly system that we are all feel forced to participate in.  You know who never has to game the system?  THE HOUSE.  They CONTROL the system inside their walls.  Do the same inside the walls of your life.  Work is always about selling your labor for less than it is worth.  The idea of selling your soul at the same rates, or just to reach breakeven on your labor is indicative of how far we have fallen as a society.  The day you start working start making payments on a sturdy ledge so you don’t fall with them.  You can do it.  All that these points really tell us is that bosses are really just as dumb as everyone else.  You can accomplish your mission before they ever know. 

    I quit my job in June.  I have money in the bank, no bad investments, no upside down mortgage, and am writing this during a small break from running my own company from the comfort of my home.  Today I will have open and honest conversations with people interested in my product (borne of my own mind).  I will mean it when I thank people.  They will mean it when they thank me.  I will answer only to myself.  I will pay myself what I think I’m worth.  And I will work to execute my vision for the future without lying, swallowing my opinions, or promoting someone else’s idiotic ideas in the hopes that they will pay me back for it in the future (or even remember).

    If you would have followed MY plan you wouldn’t need to read about 10 ways to kiss and asshole’s ass in hopes of getting to where I already am.  And more importantly you wouldn’t actually have to do it.

    James I appreciate all that you stand for, and I’m glad you’ve finally seen things that were hidden from your view for some time.  But some of us were here the whole time and always knew how to deal with the likes of bosses and still-struggling-converts like you.  You’ll come to regret ever penning those words before your education is over.  Every word of your article is antithetical to INDIVIDUAL LIBERTY.  But you’re clearly a smart guy.  The big picture will come into clearer view after you get all the poison out…

  • DPH

    Your job is to make the boss look good. His job is to make you glad you did. If either fail, time to move on.

  • http://badsalesman.blogspot.com/ Mike M.

    This is a great post which has brought out the best comments. I am getting sick with anxiety just thinking about them. They are all true and at some point we have all been involved in these situations. All I have learned is that shit rolls downhill….and gains momentum.

  • http://badsalesman.blogspot.com/ Mike M.

    My latest interaction with my boss five minutes before posting this was humiliating. Basically in front of my coworkers telling me to give my lead to someone else who can “handle” it since I was crying “defeat” – even though all I was just asking my boss for was advise on how to handle the situation ( which he told me to start doing as of late so he can “help” me) Can’t win. Now for the rest of the day I am “loser guy” in the corner.

  • Mahesh

     nice way to quit, Nice Article.        My first job in India, the Boss/owner refused to pay salary to my friend and next day his main programmer ( me ) was gone. Its so easy to do that when u do not have any liabilities. Cannot imagine doing it now

  • Nedster7

    Public praise, private criticism is an old business everyone should know.  Mr. Altucher is a fount of wisdom and common sense. 

    • Nedster7

      “old business adage” is what I meant to day.  Whoops.  Forgot to screen for bugs.

  • Bottlebill

    I was a technical author working with draughtsmen in a UK security company drawing office.  The “manager” knew absolutely nothing about either skill, but was good at taking credit and walking round looking good.  I should have seen through him at the interview because he was unable to ask me a single technical question.

    Twelve months ago “the manager” took on a clerk on 30% better salary than me.  The clerks skills included the following: satallite dish installation, driving instructor, lives round the corner from “the manager”.  I complained but to no avail.

    Over the last 3 years I have continuously asked for the software I needed to do a professional, time efficient job and been ignored.  The clerk walks in, asks for software THAT HE DOESNT EVEN NEED TO COMPLETE HIS JOB and gets it installed straight away.  We have a full time draughtsman with CAD installed on a 30 day trial but guess who has a full CAD license installed! I have asked for better hardware and been ignored – the clerk asks and gets a new high spec PC set up that he doesnt need for his job function.

    At 56 getting anew job is not easy but I persivered and it paid off. I have a new position – with a 25% rise.  I took great delight in handing in 3 weeks notice, only to be told “you have to give 30 days”.  My reply was “I am not here to negotiate my leaving terms you can shuv it up your *** if you dont like it.  Maybe you should read the bottom paragraph”.  The paragraph read “sorry to have to inform you that I am in hospital Monday for a operation on my shoulder so will noy be coming back after today”.

    I had my op then sat back and chilled on full pay knowing that the drawing office Technncal Authoring was in good hands !!

    Who knows what my new employer will be like but my new manager asked me loads of technical questions and knew exactly what he was talking about. 

    The moral is “walk”.

    • http://www.thebottledump.co.uk Bottlebill

      only been gone 2 weeks and 2 more have handed in their notice – what does that tell you !

  • Guest

    Not a boss, but a former co-worker with the ear of some higher-ups at one of the larger OS companies out there. Aurash Mahbod…….. Slimiest bastard you ever met. Would promise to get shit done with a smile, but wouldn’t if you didn’t have enough political sway. Brown noses like hell. Would purposely misinform teammates to make his work seem more impactful. How do you deal with the slimbags of the world?

    • Bottlebill

      two sayings come to mind – evry dog has his day, and, what goes around comes around.  You will have your day and his bsckside will fit neatly on the pavement when they see through him.

  • route66

    from C: “Everyone already knows it was you.”  I agree.  This was the best advice I received when trying to survive my position under a belittling, brutish, sneaky, snide, credit-hogging jerk. As one of four women in a male-dominated organization in a male-dominated industry, I wanted to tough it out.  I put up with “cupcake” and inappropriate comments about my clothing and body and “men are just smarter than women…you understand?” and reports returned for stupid reasons, but I, like you, learned to document everything.  Two of the four  women left.  The attacks then focused on the other woman remaining besides me: last-minute unannounced schedule changes, constant talking behind her back, accusations of sleeping with someone to get her post… and she was gone.  She’d found someone to request her in a lateral move and she jumped at the chance.  Guess who got the extra attention then?  After a year-end review full of lies, against all of which I was able to submit documented proof, thank God, I was promoted (a “pull” promotion from another department).  I kept my mouth shut on my new team and moved on.  My old team is poison, but years later, no thanks to me, everyone knows it.  They will continue rat-fighting each other until none are left employed/employable.  In 3 years, no one else has left that group, and no one has been promoted within it.  The girls are doing fine and the ratpack has become “Untouchable.”  A fine turn.

  • Jake

    No one has the right to yell at another adult, that’s true. But it’s interesting how different people react differently to getting yelled at. Most would react negatively of course and follow through by yelling back or at least getting angry and perturbed for an extended period of time. It’s the ego working its magic I guess.

    I had one co-worker who got yelled at by his boss quite a bit. And by not fighting back, he became a frequent target for this boss’ abuse. I thought he was a spinless fool. However, I noticed it never seemed to really bother him. And when I finally asked him why he kept taking his boss’s BS, he casually said he thought he was helping his boss and that he was glad to be of help. Funny way of looking at things. And when there was a mass layoff at this place, he was one of the few in his group who kept his job.

  • Bill Lenihan

    “Let get this straight. You mean to tell me you released this without triple-checking every possibility?”

    I call shenanigans.

    Even by the mid-1990’s (when I’m guessing this story is taking place) everybody in software engineering knew that verification should be done by a seperate, independent (from design) team, preferrably in a black-box fashion.

    In any business, large or small, problems like this are systemic failures of Process (not Individuals), and thus always management’s fault.

  • Alexey Pankratev

    excellent advice how to be good at work place. Absolutely positive and helpful. Thank you.
    I hate how your boss was humiliated back. He yelled ones, and was humiliated back three times. Was it personal matter between? (How about being honest?)
    From this perspective in the world is less balance.

  • mastawex

    I had a dream to make it big, but a lot of the wrong ideas on how to get there. Wall Street. Investment banking. Charlie Sheen in a crisp suit and a Hermes tie. I moved away from a start-up fund focused on Iraq, where I was interested in the work but couldn’t deal with the start-up income. I needed skills, to learn, to be “marketable” – how can I “run deals” of my own without first making a balance sheet balance in a cubicle sweatshop? So, I landed my job in banking and got booted in 9 months. I made some mistakes, but my VP didn’t catch them. His mistake. He made some mistakes of his own; covered himself by blaming me. The damage was done. The MD doesn’t have the time to make his own judgements on the grunts. He relies on his backstabbing lieutenants. Done. Blown out. Dispair. Now, I’m in corp dev at some large public company wondering how I got here (at least I have better bosses). Found your blog the other day. I’m convinced to turn ideas upside down until I get to some answers about what I really want to do in life. Day 6…let’s see what happens from here.

  • http://isomorphismes.tumblr.com isomorphisms

    Pitch perfect delivery. I hope it went down exactly like that.

  • jaznyp

    At my last “job” I watched every coworker devolve into depression and rage, complain to HR, and then quit. The few who stayed knew they’d have to wait it out until retirement. Good advice here, James. Don’t let the petty tyrants win.

  • Andrew_ferri

    This was very helpful – considering I’m going to quit my job today.

  • http://twitter.com/TheJTStyles JT Styles

    Couldn’t envision spending the next 40 years of my life working in an office environment, so I quit my job while I was still in my 20s.

    Wrote about my job quitting experience here~http://www.getgirlsnotgame.com/a-soul-destroying-9-to-5-job/ 

  • Maggie

    I wish someone drummed this into me when I was young. I’m 50 now. I haven’t worked in three years and I haven’t looked much. I’m living on my savings. I’m physically worse off than I was then and I wasn’t too good then.  Maybe it’s not too late to make this advice a part of me and apply it. I’ve known a couple of people who started new careers at 50 and loved it. I’m not too optimistic about doing this myself but my mind stays open to it.

    • Maggie

       Wow, talk about overuse of the word “too”.

    • Ron

      I did at 51. Go in doing whatever is offered. You now have the wisdom/experience to see the opportunities younger people don’t see or are to afraid to grab. When you see it…Carpe Diem! (Seize the day). If none come up, quit and move on to the next opportunity. It’s a never ending journey, not a retirement home. My 84 year old uncle went to work as cloth cutter in a sewing factory because no young people knew how and all of the other old people were either too lazy, dead or forgot.