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My first boss was the founding partner of a mid-sized law firm in Boston. He used to say "Bless your pointed little head" when I sneezed. What does that mean? He used to come in every morning, vise-grip my head with his hands, kiss the top of it, and say "hello my luv, ho-e-you, ho-e-you". Then he'd proceed to shred me all day long. His best moments were after I was sick and lost too much weight, used to walk around screaming "where's the damned stick with t*ts?". Really. I worked for him for 15 years. Then I went to one of the biggest firms in Boston, worked for the chairman of a big department. He started farting really loud when they made him not be chairman anymore. The special times were when he got really mad, and people would try to talk over it, and he'd push even harder, and they'd jump an octave. Really. I worked for him for almost 10 years. Now I'm not in a law firm. I work for two awesome in-house lawyers. One shares his umbrella when we go out in the rain and I forget mine. I hear from random co-workers that he says nice things about me - even when he'd think it would never get back to me. He asks my opinion about cases and things. He gives me his opinion without being bossy - like he has respect enough for me to hope I'd understand what he's talking about even though I'm not a lawyer. He protects me from situations that could become bad before I fall into them because he sees them coming and I don't, so I feel safe. The other one brings me coffee from Dunkin Donuts or Starbucks, tells me hilarious stories, and TOTALLY overreacts sometimes just to see how long it'll take me to figure out he's kidding. It makes me work harder. It makes me want to make them look really really good to their boss, and it makes me want to do as much as I can to free up their minds and days to focus on the important stuff. It makes me love coming to work. They don't fart at me or call me a stick with t*ts. Guess it's the little things ;-)


A friend of mine had a boss who, every time he made a sale, would blow a vuvuzela in the office and shout "Who's the man?!"

Kate brodock

This is a classic etiquette example.... The boss who, apologies for graphics, has entire conversations with you sitting down with his legs fully read open...

Kathy Ver Eecke

My August 28th post (which I note was inspired by your BRASS survey) tells the story of an entrepreneur boss whose misplaced motivations lead to a clueless moment. He had just fired 10% of the employees in our small, closely knit company. To calm frayed nerves, the entrepreneur gathered the remaining employees in the break room for reassurance and a drink. (Yes, alcohol. It’s a much needed entrepreneurial perk.) The speech started as expected; he was sorry to see our fellow employees go…he hated to do it…he thought of them as family. Just as we all began to relax and raise our glasses to the encouragement that was sure to follow, the entrepreneur forgot who he was talking to. We’d be okay, he said. We’d be stronger now, he said. We’d be stronger, he explained…
…because moving forward he would regularly cut out the bottom ten percent of the company…
Huh? It had been some (famous) football coach’s philosophy on the field, and it was the law of nature. He explained that survival of the fittest would keep the company strong. Forty-four employees stood with glasses raised, toast-ready, and smiles fading. Did he just say he was going to fire us? L’chaim entrepreneur boss!
To answer your BRASS survey question-- yes, this entrepreneur boss was lousy at “comforting and calming during tough times.” But it wasn’t intentional. He believed that the majority of us would be encouraged by his new business philosophy. He thought the performers would be happy to see the dead weight go. He didn’t realize that not one of us, from the cleaning crew to the vice presidents, felt safe enough to take comfort in this thought. He didn’t realize that when you don’t own the company, your need for things like food and shelter – all products of your paycheck – are just as important (more?) than the health of the company. He didn’t realize that by fortifying the company in this way, he had left his employees on shaky ground.
The behavior was definitely “clueless” and now in hindsight, I can also call it “comical.”




I work for a large scale utility company. There are a number of "leaders", as they like to refer to themselves, within my vicinity who continually spew business jargon to appear credible or at least 'in the know'.

The funny thing is that these so called leaders are in the operations side of the company and are themselves either technicians or engineers, and have no clue what they are saying and why.

One "leader" who is probably the extreme case, actually writes down words that I say that he likes the sound of, and repeats it to his superiors. This annoyed me at first, but then I decided to have some fun with it.

A recent example - We were in the middle of business planning, and I threw out the term BHAG (Big Hairy Audatious Goal), which on point he wrote down. From that day onwards he has cemented that term in his vocabulary and uses it to headline all things he wants to accomplish, which is never less than 20!

On a separate note, I would get a little chuckle everytime he used it, but when I started to feel lonely being the only one amused by this behavior, I let a few of my colleagues in on it, and we all have good laughs.

This "leader" incidentally has since been promoted from manager to a director. It speaks less of his capability and volumes of the peer group who seem to believe he has credibility.

Derek Irvine, Globoforce

Some of my favorite stories are around bosses who TRY to do the right thing, but fail miserably.

Recognize employee accomplishments by forcing them to dance.

Show appreciation by giving an employee an ipod (except he's deaf)

Giving the first employee of the month award to himself

I wrote more on these at CompensationCafe (with proper attribution for where these stories originated):


He told me what times he got up to go to the bathroom on the previous nights. He described medical and dental procedures in graphic detail. For example, when he had an ingrown toenail removed, he told me about it and exclaimed, "That thing went all the way to China!"

He also referred to the women around him as his "harem". One of those people, theoretically my peer, was his best friend, as he and she stated outright from time to time.

Of course there were a ton of egregious actions in his managing, but these are a few of the funny ones, where funny = bizarre, inexplicable, kind of sick making.

One recent Christmas Day, I gave myself the gift of "firing" him. I made a rash decision, but quickly (and luckily) landed on my feet.


The worst boss I ever had was an incredible charmer. He would do the "kiss up" to his superiors, and then yell at and belittle his direct reports. Some of his greatest hits:

- A very attractive female direct report was working while sick. He shouted "! You're looking mighty ugly today!" Saying it once wasn't enough. He said it very loudly about 3 or 4 times.

- This guy's kid plays hockey and won some medal. The guy from cubicle-to-cubicle to tell everyone how proud he was that his son's team won the medal. He repeated the story with each employee. What's worse is that he told us how he was disappointed that his son took the puck from one end to the other and scored all by himself. He would have preferred his son pass it. He was supposedly all about teamwork.

- Each morning this manager would walk from cubicle to cubicle and say "good morning" to each employee. He wasn't saying it to be friendly, he was taking roll. He passed through and peaked in each cube at the end of the day to make sure that all were accounted for.

- This manager once screamed at me for attending a 15 minute daily meeting where my deliverable was already complete. I actually tried to call into the meeting, but there was a problem with the phone. I didn't call him on his cell phone though, so I was screamed at and called a child and other names. The meeting wasn't about my function, and my deliverable for the project was complete.

- This same manager would also pull the "hey, I want to ask you about something" bit, and pull you into a conference room for a talk. He would then ask a question, and then instead of letting you answer, he would go off on an hour and a half monologue (no exaggeration). In this hour and a half you may have done 10 minutes of the talking. He would then turn around to his superiors and say that he couldn't get anything done because you were wasting so much of his time.

- This manager's manager was known to do "parking lot surveys" where she would walk through the parking lot to see who was in the office at different times.

I know there are other examples, but I think I've typed enough.

I do have to say that working for these people taught me a lot, and although I hated them, I carried the lessons to a new company that I love. I'm grateful for the experience now that its over.

Michelle P

Early in my HP career, while the HP way was alive and well, my desk phone rang, and I could see from my caller ID that it was my section manager, not normal for a 22 year old engineer. He said "can you come to my desk, I'm doing MBWA." He was probably responding to feedback that he should do more MBWA, but the poor guy really didn't know that management by walking around involves *managers* doing the walking. Shortly after that, he was promoted.


My wife's boss eats pork chops in team meetings, then picks her teeth. I once had a boss who would insist that I go out drinking with them, then follow me out on the town for the night- trying to mingle with my friends. A friend had a boss who would frequently cry in front of them while discussing their personal life and their challenges finding a mate.

Jobs in Pakistan

Well examples seems to be funny but they truly effect the business in a way. Bosses can lay egg or can give a live birth, nobody can ask them if they are not going out of the law boundaries :). My boss sometimes stinks enough that nobody can go near him i can bet as he wears the same dress for many days :)

Job opportunities in Pakistan


I had a manager once who felt it was okay to tell everyone when she had to "tinkle." We were in a meeting with foreign, male executives when she excused herself to go "tinkle."

Mama Cat

I had one boss who used to call meetings, invite a bunch of people, and of course there was no agenda so we didn't even know what we were supposed to be discussing. Then, just as everybody arrived, his cell phone would go off and he would excuse himself to go take a lengthy personal call while the rest of us just sat in the conference room twiddling our thumbs. What a waste of time!!

The same boss knew that I had to leave work at a certain hour in order to get to my day care to pick up my child before closing. He would routinely grab me for a "quick question" just as I was leaving. The "quick" question would sometimes end up being a half hour monologue from him that could easily have waited until the next day. Of course, this would make me late. I started sneaking out 15 minutes early to avoid this.

Such a disrespect for other people's time! He has since left the organization and I have his job now. I've tried to remember what it feels like when a boss treats you with such thoughtless disrespect.

Walter Underwood

I remember a magazine article years ago characterizing the various kinds of Silicon Valley companies. At one type, the SS Pequod, the CEO wore only white and named projects after well-endowed female employees. Perhaps you should ask Michael Malone about that article for West Magazine, back in the 80's.

A. Non. Imous

When flying on the company plane, (facing seats), if her feet are cold, she just jams them up under the ass of the person across from her.

Carol Murchie

How comic this is certainly rests in the eye of the beholder, so to speak, but here goes:

One of the oddest bosses I ever knew (but didn't work for) was a guy who, according to his second-in-command, took the contents of his wastebasket home each night, and was known to go through her wastebasket looking for anything she wrote so he could read it.


I think this meets your criteria of "weird and astounding." I once worked for a firm whose chief executive made promotion decisions based on graphology, astrology, and a variety of pseudo-scientific techniques. For instance, she would secretly acquire handwriting samples from new staff and decide on appropriate placement and position for each person based on the results. This activity was shared only with her direct reports. I learned all this to my horror when I was promoted into her staff (evidently I unknowingly passed the "tests"). I wanted to promote a very talented subordinate to a junior management position; a promotion she vehemently opposed on the grounds that an analysis of his handwriting and "aura" had revealed him to be deceptive and deceitful. It all seems comical and clueless in hindsight, but at the time it was downright demoralizing. I counseled this employee to discretely begin looking for employment elsewhere and followed my own advice shortly after.

Sophie Lagace

There was the phenomenally talkative boss who used up people's time telling (and re-telling) them personal anecdotes; someone on the team had actually started numbering the oft-repeated tales. That's the same boss who gathered five expensive professionals (engineers, geologists, GIS specialists, etc.) and monologued to them for an hour and a half to tell them that the project they were working on was out of budget and they should no longer charge any time to it.

Mary Meldrum

Bad Boss: he gave his employees used, counterfeit designer watches to reward them for their efforts.

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