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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Horrible IT Boss Story? 300

snydeq writes: Good-bye, programming peers; hello, power to abuse at your whim, writes Bob Lewis in a send-up of an all-too-familiar situation: The engineering colleague who transforms into a greasy political manipulator upon promotion into management. "It's legendary: A CIO promotes his best developer into a management role, losing an excellent programmer and gaining a bad manager. The art of management isn't so much about assembling a dream team, helping others be successful, or solving technical problems. It's about aligning everything you do in service of the business -- the business of yourself.'" What tales do you have of colleagues who broke bad all the way to the top?
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Ask Slashdot: What Is Your Horrible IT Boss Story?

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  • by jfdavis668 ( 1414919 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:13AM (#54057521)
    I worked for someone with a pathetic leadership style. He would ask for a project estimate, and we would do a good job developing the estimate. The estimate might be for 3 months of work. He would do his own analysis, and decide it will take 2 days. So he gives us 2 days, and we are late after that. He might have the skills to do it in 2 days, but my team did not. The bigger problem is he thought he was so smart that that he understood the requirements better than we did. Well, everyone would jump through hoops trying to get it done quickly, and screw it up so bad it took twice as long as the original estimate to complete and fix. He thought this was a great motivational tool, since it had everyone working like crazy. Problem is they were being very inefficient, and wasting time and money. Not to mention that being constantly stressed out didn't help their health or promote teamwork.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:33AM (#54057635)
      We have whiners like you where I work, too. Usually we just wind up subbing the project out to India and it gets done quickly and cheaply even with a revision or three we wind up ahead.
    • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:50AM (#54058919)

      Well if you said it will take 3 months and he figured he could do it in 2 days, and he has the ability to do it in 2 days. I would probably look at yourself and your team. Perhaps you were exaggerating what happened.
      Because I can see your point if you estimated 3 months and he said 1 month of work. As an experienced developer can normally outcode someone more Jr. by a factor of 3 so they may forget this and give you a lower estimate.
      But if you say 3 months and he says 2 days. You may want to go back and get more clarification on what is needed to get done. Because it sounds like there is a miscommunication on scope.


      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        Or he's one of those managers who handwaves parts away when doing estimates, for example by seeing that there is already code that does a similar thing and automatically assumes adapting it for the current task will take 5 minutes. Then it turns out it's not so similar and it takes weeks to cram a square peg into a round hole.

      • and he figured he could do it in 2 days, and he has the ability to do it in 2 days

        You seem to be making an unwarranted assumption here. There's also the question of what "do it" means, and one of the chapters of The Mythical Man-Month discusses the difference between a neat new program and a useful software product.

  • by hsmith ( 818216 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:14AM (#54057529)
    Only had one. She owned a 50 person consulting company. Always excuses or someone elses fault when something went wrong. By far just the worst.
    • by boristdog ( 133725 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:18AM (#54057933)

      My boss 18 years ago:

      "All of our projects are behind! We will have 3 status meetings every day with all people involved until we catch up!"

      So literally at least 4 to 5 hours a day were preparing and presenting status reports for the boss. Gave us 3 or 4 hours to work on the projects.
      Eventually I stopped going to all but one meeting and finished my projects. He tried to fire me for that. Fortunately his boss had more sense.

      • oh wow I got the same experience at a previous job... a (rather incompetent) boss did the same thing, we spent at least 2 hours a day (9am to 11am) in a room doing status meeting...

  • by gachunt ( 4485797 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:22AM (#54057565)
    One morning, we were all called into the boardroom. The I.T. director started by saying that the division was being re-organized and everyone in the room still had a job.

    He then put up the new org. chart, with our new job titles, and reporting structures.

    Some managers were demoted to frontline positions, without any prior private conversation with that manager.

    And, one guy's name wasn't on the org. chart. My director forgot to pull him out before the meeting. So, turned out, everyone in the room did NOT have a job. And that guy went from "Whew, I still have a job" to "you're fired" in a very public way.

    5 months later, the I.T. director was fired after the re-org proved to be a disaster.
  • Okay (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:25AM (#54057581) Homepage

    First off, this guy is not a programmer. At all. He's just the boss.

    He thinks that a word doc detailing the project is 90% of the work.

    He doesn't have a problem with waiting until 4:45 p.m. to come into the IT room with a "simple request". (To be fair, about a third of the time it is a simple request.)

    Last year, we had a day off for some holiday or another (not one of the major ones); HR announced it and everything - no body would be working that day. He came in anyway, and was passive aggressive pissy for the rest of the week because none of the rest of IT came in.

    He emails people way, way, waaaaaay after hours about projects.

    He doesn't seem to understand the idea of detailing a project from start to finish. Like, we're given a project - do {X}. Only it turns out that {X} is only step one of a much longer project, and that if told us that {X} led to {Y} which led to {Z}, we'd code it differently. But he doesn't do that, so we've spent time refactoring to handle the parts he didn't tell us about. (He's getting better about this, but it's still bad.)

    He thinks hard-coding the users which have access to a module in the system is a good idea. Because no one is ever fired or quits. (That's sarcasm)

    • He doesn't seem to understand the idea of detailing a project from start to finish. Like, we're given a project - do {X}. Only it turns out that {X} is only step one of a much longer project, and that if told us that {X} led to {Y} which led to {Z}, we'd code it differently. But he doesn't do that, so we've spent time refactoring to handle the parts he didn't tell us about.

      I used to have a user who worked that way. It got me daydreaming about hiring requirements analysts from the Mafia. "Youse gonna tel

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:27AM (#54057595)

    Last year, I was working at a SMB. It was located in a nice one story building, with multiple entrances, one for the reception area, and one that was intended for entrance to the loading dock and server room.

    Went to badge in as normal, noticed someone behind me very close... As in "did I drop the soap" close. I put my badge back in my wallet, asked the guy who was wanting to tailgate who he was, recommending he go to the receptionist. He wouldn't ID himself, nor say who he was, other than, "Do you know who I am? You better let me in." After a little bit of this, I said, "I know who you are. A likely trespasser," and called security.

    Turned out the guy was some VP from another state, he refused to wear a badge because he felt those were for the "plebes". Had me fired that day because I would not let him into a server room without a badge.

    • Wow, what a bastard. That sort of thing is exactly the opportunity for the VP to say he was doing intrusion testing and the workforce was well trained. You would think you would have been disciplined or fired for letting him in, not keeping him out!
    • Had me fired that day because I would not let him into a server room without a badge.

      I am sure you will love this story []

  • by sheramil ( 921315 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:31AM (#54057617)
    "... if we copy all the files from the windows 98 install disc.. AND the windows NT install disc.. onto the same machine.. then we can boot into Win98 OR NT! Pretty neat, huh? Can you make that happen?"

    "er... not.. as.. such."

    To be fair, he wasn't an IT manager; he was a wannabe biker who'd gotten the drinking and coming in late part down perfect. But he was in charge. Glad I don't work there any more.

  • "Best" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:34AM (#54057641) Homepage

    Your best worker should get a raise.
    Your worst worker should stay to do the dirty work.
    The average worker is the one you (may) want to move into management.

    • Your best worker should get a raise. Your worst worker should stay to do the dirty work. The average worker is the one you (may) want to move into management.

      Not quite. Every who ever plans to work in any sort of office again must read this in-depth analysis of office politics. []

    • If you want to be the hero in the department, clean up other people's messes — the impossible jobs that no one else in the department wants to handle.
    • In theory yes... However the following factors are in play.
      Managers tend to want to be paid more than their subordinates. So the average worker will get rewarded more than the best worker.
      Getting a raise is nice, getting additional power to do your job your prefered way is important too. Also getting a title change is important. Otherwise it can appear that your job is going to a dead end direction. And the best employee may be gone in a few years.
      The worst working staying to do the dirty work, often the

  • by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:37AM (#54057657) Journal
    My boss (CIO) promotes me from his favorite developer to management, of which, admittedly I know nothing. After a few months he calls me into his office, wants to discuss my management style. He feels I'm not being assertive enough. Throws a knife down on the desk says, "Now, I want you to stab me." I say what. He says, "Stab me, go on, fucking stab me." I tell him I'm not stabbing me. He comes around the desk and tells me if I don't stab him, he's going to stab me. Then he gets up in my face and starts screaming for him to stab him. Finally, I snap and pick up the knife and try and stab him. He breaks my arm in two places and breaks two of my ribs. Then he claims in court that I attacked him with a knife. Well, I can tell you, I won't work in management ever again.
    • I'm going to guess this is from a movie or otherwise fictional, but otherwise:

      I [...] pick up the knife and try and stab him.

      he claims in court that I attacked him with a knife

      Seems about right.

    • My boss (CIO) promotes me from his favorite developer to management, of which, admittedly I know nothing. After a few months he calls me into his office, wants to discuss my management style. He feels I'm not being assertive enough. Throws a knife down on the desk says, "Now, I want you to stab me." I say what. He says, "Stab me, go on, fucking stab me."

      Perhaps you should have taken your smart phone out of your pocket and started video taping him.

  • documentary (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bruzer ( 191590 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:37AM (#54057667) Homepage

    I watched a documentary about a guy who was slacking off at work (not showing up for work actually) and when the performance consultants interviewed him he actually got promoted to manager while they laid off a few of his friends or peers! Some other stuff happened in the documentary but I am pretty sure that was the relevant part.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:39AM (#54057683) Homepage

    I only ever had one really horrible boss. What fun: it was my first job after college, so I didn't understand yet how to defend myself from the idiot.

    He was a 55-60 year old guy who clearly believed that his best days were behind him, and he was just killing time until retirement. And he just had to talk about the good old days, the days before he became such a useless wreck. So he would call me into his cubicle and start in on a story. After a few minutes, something in his first story would remind him of a second story. And something in that second story would remind him of a third one...

    I was not allowed to act bored, or say "I've really got to do X", or - god forbid - yawn. I kept myself awake by tracking his recursions. His record was seven stories deep. I give him credit for one thing: he never lost track of where he was - he always finished off every story at every level of recursion. This often took 3-4 hours. Per day. Every day.

    I eventually learned to dodge him on most days, so that I could actually do my job. I got my guidance from parallel managers, but mostly learned to do my job independently of his (non-existent) supervision. This pissed him off no end, and he gave me a scathing review. Which I took to the "big boss", who asked around, found out that my situation was pretty well known, and that I actually did good work despite my boss. My idiot boss was never allowed to supervise anyone again. Sadly, he had too much seniority or political connections or whatever, so they didn't fire him. Also sad: it took me 2-1/2 years to get to this point.

    I don't generally hold grudges, but in his case I do make an exception. He's long dead, but I looked up where he's buried, and if I every find myself in the area, I will piss on his grave.

    • Here I thought I was the only one! I've got someone that I look up to - not a coworker, just someone who happens to be a friend of the family that has a lot of useful age and wisdom. The problem is that he conveys everything by story (frequently the same couple dozen stories), and each story generally has the same set of sub-stories.

      I don't know that I've ever seen him go past five, but tracking recursion is exactly what I do when I'm waiting for him to get back onto the original topic, and he never fail

      • by dargaud ( 518470 )
        I had a philosophy professor who regularly went into recursive levels of stories and never got lost. The good thing is that his stories were absolutely hilarious (that's where I first learned about tentacle porn for instance). And he was also a good professor. Surprisingly.
    • "One trick is to tell 'em stories that don't go anywhere - like the time I caught the ferry over to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for my shoe, so, I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt, which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on 'em. Give me five bees for a quarter, you'd say. Now where were we? Oh yeah: the important thing was I had an onion o
    • He was a 55-60 year old guy who clearly believed that his best days were behind him, and he was just killing time until retirement.

      I work for someone like that now. Horrible manager really. He does all sorts of non-manager style things. For example a major project came around with high visibility and impact and he delegated it to me very publicly. When it was a success he gave me all the credit. Similar thing happened to another guy in our team but when it didn't work the manager took all the blame because he was close to retirement and our careers were more important than his.

      It's like he hasn't even got an MBA or something.

  • Incident Manager (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pete (big-pete) ( 253496 ) * <> on Friday March 17, 2017 @09:40AM (#54057689)

    I was working as a Major Incident Manager for a very large consulting company working on a huge government project. The management in the consultancy company were generally terrible, on my first day my colleagues took me out for a drink - they pointed out a bunch of people across the room and mentioned that it was the configuration management team who had all just been fired because management weren't happy with the way the process was going...just as my first example.

    Another time I had someone from second line support come to my desk and point out that some of the monitoring was showing red, I immediately directed one guy to check from an end-user perspective to see the actual impact for users, another guy to pull the logs, and a third to dig deeper into the monitoring - they all scurried away to start assessing the situation. In the mean-time I leaned over the partition to my boss who was sat next to me, and mentioned the issue - she stuck her head up like a meercat, looked around, and said (quoting word for word), "I can't hear any shouting, I can't see people running around, I can't see people panicing, I don't feel this is being managed properly!". She then asked me if I'd informed her boss yet - I told her we were still evaluating the situation (again, apparently unacceptable), so she immediately snatched up her phone and called him saying the monitoring was red and we were in a crisis. Just as she finished her call the guy from the end-user perspective came back to my desk and reported that the issue was completely transparent to end-users. I passed this news to my boss who threw her hands up and said, "But I've called X! Now it's nothing?!". Yes. Quite.

    A third story would be from the time her replacement (she was eventually demoted then fired) pulled me to one side and started screaming and swearing in my face because he didn't feel I was motivating technical staff to fix issues quickly enough because I wasn't in their faces screaming and swearing at them until any issue was fixed (yes - this is exactly what he meant). I'm sure any techies here will be happy to agree that this is not an appropriate motivational technique to get the best from your staff...but there you go.

    I could go on - but instead I'll just summarise to mention that in the 12 months I worked there everyone in my team quit or was fired and replaced twice over except for me and one other guy...when my contract finished I wasn't sad to leave.

    -- Pete.

  • Short Man Syndrome (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Couldn't fault the guy for his technical knowledge, especially *unix, but he was useless with people. The reason I left the company was because I was suddenly brought into a disciplinary meeting with three points...
    1. I talk to much and /someone/ in the team had complained. There were 5 of us, including myself and him. I decided I would apologies to each person in the team individually and found out that he had made the complaint up.
    2. Managers/Directors had complained that I looked scruffy when I walke

  • In Management Science class, the tutor told us that engineers (he was speaking then of technical engineers, but it probably also works in other fields) would make one promotion too many in their life. In fact, they were trained at technical skills, but were expected to end up in management, of which they had only basic knowledge, or none at all.

    And he told that often, the best engineer would be promoted to be department manager. This off course was not a good thing, as the best engineers were usually not th

  • I worked for a boss who was brilliant and a great individual contributor, but had poor instincts for team leadership. I think I hated his management style the most, but I remember one of my coworkers screaming at him on a voice call about how rude and cruel he was, and that all he did was speak to people with disdain. This guy was a post-doc fellow at some university and led grad students before taking on a team of 10 IT folks. His instincts were so driven by the academic cadence he was used to, he wasted q

  • I have a ton of these stories after being in the industry for 21 years but I'll share a recent one from a few years ago.

    I left a large organization after my retention ran out and joined a Startup based out of southern New Hampshire. About 8-9 months into my job my best friend was hit by a car and killed. When I say my best friend, I'm talking about a guy that came over my house 3-4 days a week after work to hang out. I loved this guy as much as family.

    I informed my boss that I needed to take a few days off

  • by Anonymous Coward
    My old boss used to work on Vax's and got promoted up the company to become the IT Director. He was so useless at his job as he did not know anything about PC's & Servers so was knicknamed "Cant Understand New Technology - Boss" . His best debacle came when I (IT Manager) was refused to purchased several SCSI drives to replace into out RAIDed file server what were about to fail. I wrote the requisition out along with an urgent worded memo and arranged a meeting to get it signed, but he was in his usual
  • by AKAJack ( 31058 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:17AM (#54057915)

    Nearly 20 years in IT with a diversified entertainment company. Think movies, TV and theme parks.

    After one regime change my new boss ends up being a highly trained and well-liked mechanical engineer with no IT experience. He also ended up running the copy shop so our staff meetings had my staff - some with advanced degrees and copy shop staff. Our concerns were based on development schedules, roll out, training, service, etc and the copy shop wanted a Keurig for themselves. Guess what we talked about most of the time in the first month of weekly meetings? Yeah, why there was no budget for their Keurig. They brought in advertisements from Target and other places with the best prices. They argued. We sat there slack jawed.

    As the manager new boss engineer came to me for help solving this "concern". Reach into your pocket and pull out $100 of your $150,000/year salary and buy if for them. He was dumbfounded that I would even suggest such a thing.. I bought one at a garage sale the next weekend and wrapped it in a ribbon and put it in the copy room saying "From (new bosses name)" Problem solved. Yeah they complained about having to buy their own coffee after that , but by that time no one cared.

    Same boss was chatting with me in my office when he suddenly noticed that my desk was bigger than his. He assured me it wasn't that he wanted MY desk, just that he didn't know they made a larger size in the style he wanted. Much work time is lost searching for a free desk of similar propotions. His secretary cried from the frustration of having to beg for furniture because this guy wouldn't pay for anything.

    One weekend me and my server lead swapped the desks. Told the boss we found one somewhere. He never noticed mine was suddenly smaller.

    Finally manipulated him into taking charge of intranet requirements for upper management. After a year of no progress and reporting same to his boss, he was reassigned.

    • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:55AM (#54058295)

      "He was dumbfounded that I would even suggest such a thing."

      I've dealt with this over and over working for large companies. Once a company grows beyond a certain size, the ability to buy anything is paralyzed. I routinely buy stuff like hard disks, USB drives, little peripherals like that out of my own money for that very reason. You can't just go down to NewEgg or Micro Center with your credit card and submit an expense report -- it has to go through purchasing who will spend a week researching the cheapest price or steer the sale to whichever "preferred supplier" bribed them this year.

      "Same boss was chatting with me in my office when he suddenly noticed that my desk was bigger than his. "

      True story from a friend who worked for a major European airline...this airline actually had a written policy stating what furniture and accoutrements were available to staff at the various levels. There was a team of people that would actually go around and fit offices with the new hard-won accessories when people were promoted, just like getting a new patch on a military uniform. The policy had strict guidelines stating office size, how big the desk was, whether you got an additional chair or cabinet, what grade of carpet you had, at what exact level of service and seniority you got a door, which desk accessories and quality level thereof you were allowed to have, etc. When people end up working for an organization for a long time, stuff like this becomes extremely establishes a clear hierarchy.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        You can't just go down to NewEgg or Micro Center with your credit card and submit an expense report -- it has to go through purchasing who will spend a week researching the cheapest price or steer the sale to whichever "preferred supplier" bribed them this year.

        This. So much this.

        I worked for a major defense contractor. We needed a piece of software and we needed it "yesterday". My manager told me (in writing) to go ahead and order it on "petty cash".

        So, two weeks later, I and 6 others get called to talk to the VP of Engineering (who was not an engineer, but a bean-counter) to explain why we hadn't gone through proper channels. My manager was awesome and tried to take the heat for me, but to no avail. Turns out that he got called on the carpet for i

  • IT boss wants to make a big splash and get more underlings so they offer to take on some useless and stupidly simple manual labor like data entry or calling a bunch of customers to say 'hi'. Just about everybody I know in IT has had at least 1 boneheaded manager do this. What I hate about this most is that it's always the kind of work bean counters are on the lookout for when they're trying to find something to outsource/automate/eliminate. What I need out of my management is to keep a steady stream of usef
    • It’s not exactly what you mean, but it reminds me at a place I worked with, as a senior programmer, who would make you do some menial, stupid job like program EPROMs for half a day (this was before the Internet, so you could not occupy your idle mind while the burner churned around). And when we complained, the most infuriated is that the boss replied “don’t complain, you’re paid four times the normal rate for doing that”
  • by __aaclcg7560 ( 824291 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:19AM (#54057941)
    I had a manager who wanted me to be his drinking buddy and friend after work. I don't drink (I go through a six-pack in six months) and had enough friends outside of work. He accused me of not being a team player and I accused him of being unprofessional. No one else in the department wanted to be his drinking buddy. After trying to get his boss fired in an epic management battle, he got fired for gross misconduct. Since then I'll bail out of any job interview where the hiring manager indicates that he wants a drinking buddy and friend after work. These people are always shocked that someone might object on professional grounds.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:22AM (#54057971) Homepage Journal

    An awesome, horrible IT boss.

    Yeah. He was awesome.

    He'd let us slack off all day. He never complained about us being late, even by two hours or so. We got games onto the work computers, played over LAN, he'd sometimes join. He would assign tasks, then push deadlines for us as they flew by. He'd deflect any unreasonable requests from the outside, overestimate the time needed, very rarely asserted any control over us. If not the fact that apart from him we had a team leader, who was energetic, competent and could have a good grip over all projects, I don't think we'd ever get anything done. That meant we weren't entirely spoiled rotten... but yeah, we were spoiled. But yeah, huge vacations, gaming on rigs more powerful than anyone had at home, slacking off, coming late, and a boss who never even frowned about this, shielding us from any upper management and other "external threats" very efficiently. We loved him to bits for that.

    You've got to admit he was horrible for the company though. Projects going over budget and way past deadline, simple stuff billed like severe overhauls, and all the goodies corporation could provide for the employees for free...

    Some time after that there was a grand restructuring, all the teams dissolved and reassembled from scratch, and I got assigned elsewhere, he got an entirely different team to spoil, but hell, I won't forget him. Awesome guy for the employees, horrible for the corp.

  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:23AM (#54057977)

    So there I was, listening to the new team that just bought the company I worked for. They spoke about how they convinced some pension fund manager to invest millions into the newly formed company. they bought another two in a shopping spree. "Strategic purchases to complement and complete our product portfolio and offering" -sounded good.

    I was told that within a year (or two) this newly combined collection of hosting providers of different tiers will become a powerhouse. An industry leader, an international name. -promising news!

    We were all told that the customer survey scores which are now in the 10-20% positive feedback range will become 40%-50% in a year and 60% and 70% in two which will be industry leading for the managed hosting industry.
    (NPS 70 Average is a lofty target! - but let's stick with percentage for arguments sake)

    Everyone was listening as the new exec, with his shiny new suit was giving his really enthusiastic speech. All the staff, managers etc all sat there, smiled politely and stayed quiet. He went on and on and showed us that graph with the green arrow that starts shallow but climbs rapidly, soaring towards the magical 100% mark.

    Being a lowly entry level tech could not see how this can be achieved so quickly and I needed insight. I wanted to know more about this exciting new journey.
    I raised my hand and was given permission to speak. I asked "Given that being the best or even in the top ten is a monumental challenge, what sort of changes or efficiencies are we going to make to reach that goal?"

    The shiny suited exec looked at me in silence. I considered that he was formulating a detailed response and waited as did everyone else. After a few more seconds of silence his subordinate quickly stepped in with a helpful answer "You have to remember that efficiencies do not always translate to gains and gains is what we're after." - I stared at him, stunned. I realised at that moment that they had no plan, they had no idea and I was given an answer that provides very little in way of a meaningful detail because of it.

    I asked my direct manager of the time, an introverted guy that would not associate with the rank and file, why there was no detail in the plan. He told me that he's sure that they would not invest millions without a detailed plan..which he was not aware of either. Of course this change also meant he was going to manage all of support across the companies...

    A company wide skills survey shortly followed in which I was asked only questions about skills I did not possess. I was fired shortly after.

    I've only had better employments in much more successful companies since.
  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:27AM (#54057999) Journal

    I just told it in the Psychopathic CEOs Are Rife In Silicon Valley, Experts Say [] story.

  • Once I worked at a place where a new bank manager was brought in to help grow the company. This guy tried to pit me against a good friend who was my supervisor by claiming he had made a comment about me in a peer review. Fortunately I had the sense to ask my friend about it. Turned out he was trying to undermine my supervisor because he had more influence over the company owner than he did. I got another job shortly after talking to my friend (through another friend) after coming to the conclusion this mana
  • by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <salgak AT speakeasy DOT net> on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:30AM (#54058029) Homepage

    . . . got hired on to be Security Guru and ISSO for a Federal Agency. Because clearances had to transfer, it took two months for me to start there.

    I get there, find the guy who hired me had moved on. The guy in his cube was a fellow contractor. He looks at me, and says:

    "Security Guy ? I give you 30 days, 45 tops. . . "

    The new boss is a GS-14, who was a GS-10 a year earlier, and a Cisco tech, who married a Supergrade, and immediately got promoted. And who had 37 positions on her teams. . . . and had churned through 70+ people in those slots over the previous 9 or so months.

    First problems surfaced when I was asked to specify my standard work hours. . . and was told that overtime must be approved in advance, in writing. And then the mangler requires me to attend additional team meetings that STARTED at 2 1/2 hours past my standard day. And told me I must adhere to my written hours, and could not charge overtime for the meeting, but my presence was mandatory. That was the first clue.

    My immediate project was a prototype virtualized Blackboard deployment, Windows-on-VMware. Fairly straightforward, but we want to now test it on the production network, it had performed well in Dev and Test. So our ISSM told me that all we needed was what traffic out to the production net was required, from what IPs to what IPs, and the names of our test boxes. This was Wednesday morning. He also told me to have it to him by noon on Friday, and he'd approve it.

    Basically, a not terribly-complicated spreadsheet, about 4x4. about 40 total pieces of data (several were multi-port/multi-protocol connects, your typical Active Directory traffic. . .). 20 minutes to compile, another 5 to write an intro and embed the spreadsheet into a 1-page document. Manager ALSO required us to have her approve, in person, all documents sent outside the group.

    I bring her the page. She asks why we weren't using Telnet. She calls one of her pet engineers (an Exchange guy) to look over my work. Half an hour later he
    shows up, notes that he doesn't understand it. So she calls a TEAM meeting for the next morning. Meeting goes 6 hours. 1 page doc is now ten pages. Still not happy, she calls another for Friday at 10AM (data was due by noon).

    Meeting lasts until quitting time. Doc is now 21 pages. STILL not approved. New meeting, 9AM Monday morning. Finally, Tuesday, at ~1:30 PM she approves it. 37 pages. We send to the ISSM, who immediately rejects it, as not what he asked for, and days after the deadline.

    Manager calls me in, starts screaming at me for damaging HER program. I pointed out, I had the original request in writing, had data ready two days in advance, her processing and add-ons got it killed. She continued to scream at me, enough that people came by to see that everything was alright.

    I had enough. I told here that I quit, walked out of her office, down to my cube, logged out, packed my stuff, and left.

    Only job I ever walked out on in nearly 45 years of work. .. .

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry, you all fail. those may be bad, but this guy wins the prize.

    His name is Jack, he's a big, fat, boisterous, Jewish a-hole.

    We used to have a joke that if he didn't physically threaten to kill you on a regular basis, you weren't doing your job.

    And no, we're not talking about some side comments or jokes or anything along those lines. We mean cold,serious, murder.

    We had the territory rep from Cisco come in one day with some support staff just for a "friendly" visit, and there was Jack, chest to chest wit

  • Actually, most of my bosses have been good people. So over the majority, no problem.

    Of the bad ones:
    * first boss out of college, could not go thru the day without yelling at someone. Would make something up if necessary.
    * Boss that could not make decisions. I would outline two or more approaches, and he would say to just wait....for weeks. He finally fired me. Later on the rest of the team revolted against him and upper management had to remove him. That did not unfire me tho.
    * Manager that handled all

    • I outlasted him in the company.

      I was never “good enough” for my parents. Always short of this, or short of that. So, of course, I got to think that I wasn’t that good

      On the first serious, full-time job I had, where I was the first guy hired by that startup, I was pretty amazed to see many people hired after me getting fired not too long after, until I was poached by one of their clients So I guess I'm not that bad, after all

      (And the startup closed after one of the owners went to jail for selling nuclear technology to

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:38AM (#54058101)

    I've been working for a long time in a highly political private company. I'm extremely lucky that I've been allowed to advance in my career on a technical track, but most people foolishly pick the management path. The actual work we do is really interesting and it's a fun job as long as you don't let the politics get to you, or heaven forbid, get involved in it. If you let it get to you, you're going to be miserable. If you do your work and don't step on any landmines, you're golden. It's not government IT, but the politics are very close -- think appointed VPs who can do no wrong, and whose appointments are basically gifts.

    Most of my horror show IT boss stories revolve around people promoted into management positions who have no aptitude for it. I've held supervisory and management positions, and I can tell you first-hand that tech and management are completely orthogonal skill sets. I'm not sure what's different about IT, but it seems like there's just no easy way to retrain people to deal primarily with machines instead of people. Unfortunately, most organizations are built around the assumptions that the only way to advance in your career is to manage those doing actual work, and that everyone actually wants to climb the ladder. I was smart enough to realize that I wouldn't be effective no matter how much retraining I did, and luckily the company was interested in keeping someone with good technical skills as a "lead" without the political crap. I actually think it's for the best, because the company just went through its once-a-decade middle management clean-out. Moral of the story: If you want a job, keep your skills sharp and keep learning.

    The other stories involve "white knight" MBAs coming in and managing departments through Excel. I worked at one place where the new CIO came in, and within 2 weeks announced that the entire department was being outsourced after a 6 month transition period. His speech basically amounted to "you're too expensive, capex vs. opex, right-sizing,..." The instant the meeting was over, every single person worth hiring was on the phone pulling the emergency cord, arranging new jobs and quitting (including me...I wasn't going to end up with the Scarlet Letter U (for Unemployed) on my record.) Instant dead-sea effect...the outsourcer ended up sucking at their job, got kicked out and the department was in-house again. Luckily the CIO got fired...that akways drives me nuts when executives keep messing up and end up at another company after getting a huge payout. Why can't we worker bees do that?

    • Luckily the CIO got fired...that akways drives me nuts when executives keep messing up and end up at another company after getting a huge payout. Why can't we worker bees do that?

      A former boss called it "F*ck up, and move up"

  • I could write a book about one boss I have had, because there are so many crazy stories about him. And yes, I have seriously considered doing that.

    He was the designer of the company's product, he was micromanaging everything so that nothing significant happened unless he himself was involved, he was a compulsive liar ... and he was an alcoholic.
    He spent most of his days at an outdoor table at the local bar just outside the office, where he held "meetings". He even had people hired mostly to be his entourage

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @10:51AM (#54058261)

    My first day, Monday. I'm being brought around to the other programmers and board designers and introduced. "Hey this is X, he's our new guy in software." Almost every person I met looked up and said "Hi." In the tone of voice you usually use when you find your car has a flat tire. Some didn't even try to shake my hand. Some didn't even look up at me.

    Took me 3 months to find out why everyone was like that. I made some friends there and they finally told me what was up one day while we were at lunch.

    Our manager had a meeting the Friday morning, previous. He told the entire IT staff that he was having some work done on his house over the weekend, and that he would like the entire team to move shingles up to his roof. Right now. And oh yeah, did I forget to mention that all vacation requests have to pass my desk for approval? See you all at my house.

    It gets better, or should I say worse.

    He made them all take a vacation day to do it.

    • by Gilgaron ( 575091 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @11:51AM (#54058941)
      They rolled over for that? Owner of a small business might get away with that, but a manager at a company with HR and other management levels?
      • Yup, afraid so. A large-ish company with about 3-400 employees making a popular product you probably have heard of if you're into cars.

        It was right after the dot-com bubble burst. If you were in IT you were lucky to be working at all, at least in my neck of the woods anyways. I was laid off when they hired me in and considered myself lucky. It's also the only job I ever quit without giving a two week notice.

        When I quit HR called me in to lecture me about how unprofessional that was. A few months la

        • Huh... well hopefully that guy regrets letting all those folks know where he lives!
        • Forget HR, that's where you drop a quick message to whatever email address you have for the corporate attorneys asking "Hey, what's the company's liability if someone is injured when a manager requires that his office staff come to his house and do manual labor carrying packages of shingles up ladders to his roof?"

          Because what he did right there is a multimillion dollar lawsuit waiting to happen, complete with multiple witnesses and probably documentation as well.
  • The Peter Principle is an observation that the tendency in most organizational hierarchies, such as that of a corporation, is for every employee to rise in the hierarchy through promotion until they reach the levels of their respective incompetence.

    It is real and it causes a lot of problems. People expect promotions, meaning if you are even just slightly interested in your career you expect your boss to promote you at least a few times. And you expect a raise, probably once a year. You expect to make 4-40 times more by retirement than when you started, even if your responsibilities have stayed the same. In general people are either unhappy about being passed over, or end up making more then they are worth and/or with responsibilities they cannot fulfi

  • It was a small engineering firm, about 10 people total.

    Me and this other dev were at an industry trade show with our boss (who was the owner of the company). We had a demo loop of some of our software running. Then, during some discussions between me, other dev, and the boss, it came out that our demo software was written in a different language than what Boss had thought. Even though we had told him it was written in language X instead of Y.

    Anyways, said boss starts to go off on us, IN OUR TRADE SHOW B

  • My IT manager at a local hospital was the worst manager that I have had in 30 years of work.

    She was hired to try and increase the number of female managers in the hospitals IT department. She had NO IT experience.

    She was a Major in the National Guard, so we were all treated like idiot privates.

    I was given a task to rewrite some code that calculates drug dosages based on a large number of factors. Manager said this should only take a day or so. I told her it would take 6-8 days.
    Day 3 and the manager is

  • She was never happy that her manager hired her entire team before her. She proved to be very nepotistic in her hiring and promotion practices.

    Two of us had come from the company's tech support org and were paid hourly and it was agreed after everyone settled in we'd sort out the switch to salary (I was 19 and naive). In 8 months in support I had made 33k due to the unlimited over time policy. In the first 2 months in this job I was still putting in similar hours. Her non-negotiable "offer" was $28k because

  • At a small company in 2005 I was hired as the QA manager, I moved across the country for this small startup that had been around for 6 or 7 years. I was told I would get to hire my team of 7 and build the QA team and processes. For 8 months I was the only QA person and was told I couldn't hire anyone. Then suddenly I was asked why I hadn't hired my team yet. So I started interviewing... requirements were 3-5 yrs experience. Interviewed, made offers, nobody was accepting. As the hiring manager, my boss

  • Not a sign of a bad manager, but kind of a pair of horror stories:

    Twice in the last five years I've been hired by a manager I got along great with during the interview process, only to be informed during my first few days that this person had resigned and his departure from the company was imminent. In my current role it meant that I was the lone person on my team left in the Boston office, with the rest of the team in an office thousands of miles away. In a role I was hired for five years ago, I was brou

    • Seems fair to ask if they like working there and where they see themselves.
    • by wwphx ( 225607 )
      Exact same thing happened to me! Hired by A, and his last day at that org was my last day at my previous employer. Now managed by B, whom I'd never met. And B turned out to be grossly incompetent. Fortunately long ago and the nightmares have mostly stopped. ;-)
  • I had a manager, back in the eighties, who accused me of plagerism, then got rid of me... after I proposed and built a d/b system that they couldn't buy... but having made major changes in the specs, when I was nearly done resulted in it taking twice as long to complete.

    Oh, and did I mention that they had it all done in compiled basica?

    Ah, yes, then there was Ameritech, the former, now swallowed Baby Bell. I worked for them '95-'97, in a startup division that was going to be their entry in the long distance

  • I was service manager for a 8 employee company, owned by 3 partners, one of which was my boss (but not the founder).

    My boss was out, so the founder told me to go to a client’s and bring back their dot-matrix printer (this was long ago) so we can fix it.

    So I head to the client’s, 50 km away. Over there, I look at the printer, and diagnosed the problem and fixed it in 10 seconds.

    I then test it, show it to the client, who is totally thrilled.

    I go back to the office.

    — Where is the printer

  • For one of them I got a t-shirt from Shark Tank! But I'm not going to write about that one, it'd take too long.

    Boss 1 (very early '90s): we're holding a rare all-hands meeting on a Thursday or Friday (small dept, 8 people or so, tops), and I'm starting a two week vacation that weekend. Whole purpose of the meeting was for Boss to say that when I get back from vacation, I'll no longer be the LAN admin, I'm going to work with Bob doing COBOL programming, and Dave is going to take over as LAN admin for Fi
    • Oh man! Good times. I had an experience very similar to your #4.

      I was a consultant for a securities group, doing PC maintenance for college money on the side. Owner was a know-it-all type. He had a Novell 3.11 server holding all his corporate data. Ran out of room, so he had me span a second disk onto his virtual volume. I wasn't a Novell expert but I gave it a go. It was my first time on this particular system. I explained to him how this created another point of failure, you need to do backups,

  • I got hired by a little bitty part of a large networking company. They did Token Ring (yeah, I know, but hey, it was decent money). The larger company was doing well, and was buying up small companies for their technology. Fine. The guy running the division was good. My boss, though, was a bit of a young Turk. Lots of book knowledge, some talent, but not a great deal of experience. He had been the division manager's head engineer before I was hired. When I came in, he moved up from doing design to m

  • I really haven't had a boss that was as bad as most of the posts here, but what I have encountered is 'overseas boss'. My current boss is over in India so getting in touch with him is nearly impossible most of the time. Normally this would mean that I'd go to his boss for emergency approvals and other things that can't wait, but his boss is also in India. This makes getting anything approved in a timely fashion nearly impossible. Thankfully the US office has learned to manage themselves to the point tha
  • This is a true story, it happened to me 10-15 years ago:

    At that time I had a very independent role as the main IT troubleshooter for a large (75K employees in 70+ countries) international company, I ran my own group doing this, but company policy required me to have a manager who would be responsible for signing any travel expense reports and handle my year-end evaluation talk.

    I knew going into that interview that I had a _lot_of very happy (internal) customers, with a 98+% solving rate for all the issues m

  • by kaatochacha ( 651922 ) on Friday March 17, 2017 @05:56PM (#54062245)

    Years ago, I worked as the sole IT guy for a small company business , involved in the Hard drive industry.
    The bosses son was a manager in the company, terrible hothead and an idiot to boot, but really tall, strong and had a black belt.
    He once threw a hammer through a wall because he was mad, just missing hitting another employee with it. He also cried to his father about the employees not liking him. Literally, cried behind closed doors. The secretary heard and couldn't stop laughing.

    Anyway...myself and the engineering designers used to play Quake at lunch,the only reason we were allowed to was because after he found out, he had to play as well.
    He was one of those guys who would fume if he lost, but gloat whenever he won. He also had the fastest computer at the time.
    One day, tired of his march of triumph and having him point his finger at me shouting "you suck, I won, frag!" over and over, I went into his office and slowed his graphics card down. Since quake was the only thing we used that even remotely taxed the graphics system, he only noticed it when playing the game. Which resulted in his session being "stutter stutter stutter frag". Over and over and over.
    He immediately started screaming, which we could all hear through every office, shouting "wait, wait , this isn't fair!". Finally, he comes storming into my office and screams at me "I know you did this, I know it was you! You broke my computer!!!"
    Fearing for my life, I bluffed "Wait, you mean I secretly went into your office, broke your computer but left it still partially functional, just so you could lose at Quake and I'd have to fix it later? I risked my job just so you could lose the game? Do you really think I'm that unprofessional?" Of course I was!
    I guess I snowed him, because I ended up going back to his office later that day and spent THREE HOURS OF OVERTIME making one simple change.
    The quake games ended shortly thereafter, because every time someone lost they'd begin shouting "Wait, wait this isn't fair!" and he got pissed off.