Worst Boss Ever: Third Runner Up


The setting was a small not-for-profit with fewer than 20 employees. The ‘boss’ had been in place for more than ten years. She had a turnover problem. She kept firing supervisory staff.

I was brought on board to supervise. It took me about a week to analyze the problem. The boss never finished a sentence.  The one exception? If she gave a speech, she wrote and memorized what she planned to say.

I had a half-dozen explanations for her continual self interruptions. She was creative and had a gazillion ideas. Her thought process was too speedy. She’d developed this terrible end-of-sentence failure habit. She was irrevocably right brained, making her incapable of outlining–step by step–what she wanted me to do.

Bottom line? She thought out loud and didn’t take the time to adequately develop her vision before trying to communicate it.

Yes, that made her difficult to work for. I quickly learned to end her sentences for her–silently. I spent a lot of time figuring out what she might mean for me to do. I got really good at mind-reading in the five plus years I stayed in that job, guessing right about 60 percent of the time.

Her firing problem? She blamed her staff for failure to understand her vision. But she was the failure, incapable of seeing that her inability to communicate what she wanted done caused the turnover. How many people do you need to fire before you ask, “What is it about me…?”

No. She didn’t fire me. I went looking for a boss who completed her sentences. But that’s a tale for next week …