Sunday, September 2, 2012 | Categories: Episodes
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As a classical musician it has been a long time since I have had a boss. My brief times as an orchestral musician have taught me that the bosses, or conductors in the case of a symphony, are more often than not sorts of artistic dictators. The best conductors to work for lead with the carrot and praise, and the worst lead with the cattle prod. Audiences don't seem to care which style brings them their classics. One well-known Canadian orchestral player told me that orchestras are like marriages in that those not in a band want in, and those in a band all want out!
Honesty, responsibility and empathy, if applied rigorously, force a leader to know her craft and its applications, to realize when things are slipping or going wrong, to openly gain co-operation and creative solutions, and to understand why underachievers are in their current state. A good boss knows his subordinates well enough to have them feel they can trust him to understand their comments and problems. A good boss is respected and not feared.
Comox, British Columbia
I am listening to your show and wanted to share my experience. On Tuesday, I will be heading back to work after a 14-month maternity leave. I have been fortunate to have a great relationship with my boss over the years, but his response to my return has reinforced how fortunate I am to work with him. In brief, my request to return part-time with a schedule that allows me to be with my school-age children in the afternoons and in the summer, was quickly approved. I feel like I am trusted, that my work is valued and that he respects the importance of family. I, in turn, am compelled to work hard and to give a little extra whenever I can.
I have had good ones and one very bad one, ending in a constructive dismissal. He lied, deceived and confused you much of the time, abused and even used you. His confidence and arrogance were amazing, his memory awesome, his intelligence intimidating, his delivery rapid-fire. Only after I left did I research under bullying and discover that he was likely a narcissist, suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. This is a serious illness and I don't think anyone who worked with him or for him really knew in full what they were dealing with. I left suddenly, driven out by his demands which is what happens because they seek to use everyone they come into contact with. It is stressful, ruins your health and crushes your spirit. I could write a book based upon my experiences and insights, it was that bad. Very demeaning, deliberately.
This is a hidden fact of employment that some of the employers and bosses are mentally ill. B.C. mental health told mne it is quite common that they hear about it. A book listing reasons for leaving a company had 67 items. My job had about 48 of these reasons for me to leave. And because I could not figure him out, I had just kept trying. My friend said I was depressed the entire time I worked there (28 months). The rages these individuals display are bewildering. Their logic is self-serving and illogical. At times they are incredibly eloquent. At other times I don't think they can tie their shoes. I think most aspects of the illness were found in my boss. Sadly, I was hurt by it. They need to be identified and something done.
It is a complex and hidden illness, hurting many people. One in a hundred people suffers from it. I wonder if it's not more.
Richmond Hill, Ontario
I was very fortunate that in my first job with a Canadian Crown Corporation I had a great Boss. She was a true mentor and respected my input on the project I was assigned to do. Later on, my job was in an academic Institution and once again I had great professor who was my Boss. He made me feel useful to his oirganization. He would make a point to introduce to me every visitor to this body and would always consult me on finanacial and administrative matters. Given the fact that I had few years of working experience, he was instrumental in giving me confidence.
Then I had a series of very bad supervisors who made every effort to make me feel small. Two of them I will never forget. Before she came into my life, I had a very nice supervisor who gave us freedom to develop close working relationships with the teaching faculty in this major university. This particular person went out of her way to get in touch with these people with whom I had worked for ten years or more to tell them they should not trust my judgement. This unprofessional act on the part of this woman annoyed many of them and they called me about it.
As if my bad luck would not give me a break, another supervisor gave me very insulting annual personal performance reviews. To her, she was the only model to which I had to struugle to copy. Thank goodness I am now in retirement, but these nasty people have left a very bad taste in my mouth and some horrible memories.
I have been computer programming for 50 years. The best boss was David Pollack, in a telecommuting job. I worked on Quadra Island where the core team was in California and others were scattered over the globe. What made him stand out was he seriously cared that everyone was happy and often did surprisingly kind things to help. I did not feel I existed just to satisfy his needs. He also shared with everyone what was happening in the big picture with the company. It helped create a strong team feel.
Victoria, British Columbia
How does one deal with a boss who has narcissistic and psychopathic behaviours? I worked for such a person from 1995 to 1999 in a non-profit agency on Vancouver Island. When she became our executive director at our first meeting with our home support office staff we realized we were in trouble.
Her bottom line was money while ours was giving good care with the appropriate home support worker. One time she told our office staff it doesn't matter who we send in to this palliative client as the person is going to die anyway. We were appalled at what she said.
Within four years of her appointment most if not all the office staff had left. Some had been with the agency for 17 years. If one is not able to go along with their bosses values, philosophy of care etc. and have lost respect with her or him, then you have to leave.
When she first became our E.D. she went on a management course while roll playing a situation as a manager the facilitator told her afterwards I would hate to be your employee or words to that effect. She has been successful at raising money for this non-profit agency, but I wonder at what cost?
Saanichton, British Columbia
I didn't get my call taken during your program today, but I'd still like to ask the question I had. How would your guest today think that a good boss should view, approach and deal with his or her employees' participation in unions? I originally come from Spain and I sense the attitude towards unions is very different over here, hence my question.
Squamish, British Columbia