Ever feel like you've done something dumb? Well, if so, you definitely haven't done or said anything as foolish as these real life bosses.
As with my worst corporate emails post, these are from the radio show I co-hosted a while back. Some may be told elsewhere on the Web, but I've edited them down to their gist.
10. Didn't quite grasp the concept.
A while back my boss discovered the motivational quote "Only in the dictionary does SUCCESS come before WORK." He ordered a large banner for our work area with his "improved" version of the quote. The banner, which I can see from my desk as I write this, reads: "Only in the dictionary does SUCCESS come before HARD WORK."
9. Maybe nobody will notice.
At the company I work for, management regularly stresses their policy of promoting from within. When a middle-management opening occurred, the CEO told the divisional VP: "Don't post it in your department. Someone unqualified might apply."
8. A truly essential perk.
My last promotion entitled me to a bigger cubicle. Since I was comfortable where I was, I declined the larger space, but my boss wouldn't let it die. He had maintenance workers add an extra 18-inch panel to my cubicle. When the work was complete, my boss stopped by and with a big grin on his face said: "This is more befitting of your new status."
7. Somehow not surprising.
I worked in a lumberyard that was experiencing losses from theft. The vice president in charge of the yard ordered polygraphs for every employee. A week later, on a routine drive-by the police caught the thief loading a truck with material from the yard. It was the vice president.
6. Sorry I asked.
After reviewing quarterly sales records, I noticed that one division of our company was selling parts at or below cost. I checked into previous quarters and found that this was occurring on a regular basis. When I asked my boss how the division could ever hope to show a profit, she said: "Sales volume."
5. Works like magic!
I was asked to update a spreadsheet my boss had created. The numeric entries were in different formats, some numbers (like "1005.29) and others textual (like "one million"). When I alerted my boss to the problem, he said, as if explaining something to the village idiot: "Let me show you it's done." He pulled a calculator from his pocket and did the calculations by hand. When done, he proudly said: "Now, just type this number in at the bottom of the spreadsheet."
4. Disaster averted!
One of the employees in my department resigned. Instead of filling the position at $30,000 per year, I suggested an alternative incentive plan. Each month, the most productive worker in my department could earn a $1,000 bonus, if the department's monthly goals were met. My boss reviewed my proposal and rejected it--including the $18,000 annual savings. She said: "What if this worked? Everyone in the company would want to work for you."
3. The "me" in "team."
I work for a big management consultancy partnership. We pride ourselves in the quality of our internal education programs. However, when the boss found out how much time we were spending on internal education, he suggested we make the "Team Building Exercise" into an "individual self-help study course".
2. Prepared for anything.
I'm an officer on a research vessel. Just before leaving on an important cruise, a crucial piece of electronic equipment broke. I immediately went to my boss to ask for a replacement part, but my request was denied. He said the part was in stock but it was the last one on the ship and he was saving it for an emergency.
1. A teaching moment.
After two days of heated wrangling, we got one of our vendors to agree to a 35 percent discount. As we were about to sign the contract, my boss, who had not been a party to the negotiations, walked in and tore it up. He said: "I'm going to teach you purchasing people how to play hardball. That's the way you make it in this world." He turned to the vendor's sales rep and said: "We want a 20 percent discount, take it or leave it." The delighted rep immediately agreed. As my boss left, he said to us: "I hope you learned something from that."