Bad bosses can teach valuable lessons about what we tolerate
I never suspected that my first two jobs would end up teaching me so much more than Customer service, work ethic and sales. Don’t get me wrong, this is all important too, but the most important life lessons came from bad bosses, who taught me how to define limits.
I worked in a craft store, makeup artist for a luxury cosmetics line, and a loan officer, among others. But you would never guess the bizarre and downright horrible experiences I had at these works which otherwise seem quite dull and ordinary. I’m talking about a real-life “The Devil Wears Prada” situation – and witnessing workplace abuse from a manager who should have fired someone, but instead got promoted. (He was a dude, so naturally that was the easiest way to get him out).
We’ve all had bad bosses. There are a lot of horror stories circulating the global web. While it took me a long time to find the bright side of these experiences, I like to think that’s exactly what I did. I learned how much bullshit I couldn’t stand, and neither could you.
Of course, I’m not saying that only bad bosses are to blame. Other factors such as company culture, costumes (i.e. top management), and the people you work with side by side can certainly impact your experience. But take a lesson from someone who has failed to set limits at work time and time again: A paycheck, no matter how small, isn’t worth compromising your limits.
A lucky guy approach
Ah, Miranda Priestly. You hated her but you kind of loved her at the same time. Especially when she gave off just a little respect, making you think maybe if you just tried one little a little stronger, you would enter into his good graces. Yeah. He was my first bad boss. We worked for a luxury cosmetics line, and while some of us recognized that it was just another department store sales job, she put it on a whole different pedestal. . Basically you would think yours was the biggest job in the world to get your client that $ 160 face cream. Oh yeah, because all of that 3% commission was really worth all the nonsense.
What silliness I’m talking about? Devote all of our time and effort to soliciting presales twice a year. Literally I think we dreaded the five months leading up to the one month half year sale more than anything else. For example, I distinctly remember being in a hospital bed on my Blackberry, chatting with my boss to try to find an order I had placed in my pre-sale binder. Luckily my mom, who clearly had more common sense than I did at the time, took the phone out of my hand and said she has to go. She’s going to emergency surgery. What can I say ? I was 18 and incredibly eager to prove myself.
Long story short, she was a good woman, but not someone I would work for again. ‘Because all of you, if you call me for anything while I’m on my way to surgery, you better wish me luck – don’t ask me where I left a piece of paper. Did I learn my lesson by setting limits then? Well, not quite, but I took a step in the right direction by quitting this job.
I’m a strong woman, so … I’ll take the bullshit
After leaving this job, I moved on to what I thought was a better job in banking. I mean, I would get my nights and weekends back. Work-life balance could finally be a thing. Did I mention that I am working in a branch office, not in a corporate level back office job? Ah. Work-life balance, my ass.
As a consumer, I never thought of banking as a sales job. But oh, how wrong I was. The job was to find out how many clients you had in front of you. But more than that, how many accounts (or products) you could open for them. Yes, it was the days before this company was called out on his bullshit.
Again, my bad boss was a good person, but also a woman who let men step on him. She thought it made her worthy because she could take the bullshit. Yes, please disrespect me, and I’ll drop it because I’m not an emotional stereotype. I make the distinction because a male colleague of mine was constantly breaking into his office out of the blue, whether someone was there or not. When foot traffic was slow, he would complain and cause trouble. Worse yet, when he didn’t agree with something (or someone), he would literally swear and slam bullshit.
Talk about a toxic AF work environment. It’s not like she hasn’t seen him, and I know for a fact that this unacceptable behavior has been brought to her attention. (Yes, I was one of the people who said something.) Guess what the solution to the problem was? Promote it. I mean, yeah, it got him out of the branch, but it also reinforced bad behavior. I was thinking maybe when i was on maternity leave things could change, but of course it wasn’t. In fact, when my baby under three months old was hospitalized with a fever, the only call I got was to ask when I was coming back to the office. It was then that I decided there was no way I was going to come back.
You are a person, not just an employee
With experience, we become wiser. The hoops I was jumping in to please my bad bosses even made me nod and sigh. Right now, that was the only thing I could do because I was so conditioned by society to think that I needed the job, not that the job needed me.
Do not mistake yourself. I’m not a billionaire, millionaire, or even a hundred (if that’s a thing). There were times in my life when I absolutely couldn’t afford to be unemployed, but it’s worth emphasizing that these companies wouldn’t exist without us (their employees).
It’s important to set limits as an employee, because if you don’t, some managers will benefit. You are a person, not just an employee. You have feelings and deserve your limits to be respected. Be badass and don’t put up with bad bosses.