Post script

April 10. A day with far too much resonance… totally, inexplicably and so strongly that it can sometimes make the 10ths of other months vibrate ever-so-slightly. But the mysterious Person attached to this day would not appreciate the focus. [Nevertheless, Mystery, you are, with great respect, wished well and happy wherever you may be.]

In light of that preference, I will go another direction entirely. I will instead look at this day chronologically, and expand on “events following April 9 and NovoDay.”

Cuckoo

As I mentioned, on April 9, my former boss left the company where we had worked. It was a smart move on his part.  When Ms. B. Crazy (hereafter simply “Batshit“) took over the department, he was not long for that world anyway. Actually, the writing was on the wall even before that. In any case, he shielded those of us who worked for him from her insanity as long as he could before he left, partnered with design talent as brilliant as he is, and started his own adventure.

Off he went. There we were.

That first week after he left was God-awful. It was made worse, for me, by the fact that one of our other colleagues — the next ranking person in the group of us left — was on a rare family vacation.  Now, we weren’t close friends or anything. In fact, we had barely interacted in the 2+ years we’d worked together. But his being out meant that while I wasn’t the most tenured person in the group by a longshot, I was the highest-positioned person left in our group for that week. Which left me feeling — even if it was only in my own mind (and it was) — like I was carrying the weight of the world.

That week felt really lonely, and really stressful. (My old boss got in touch to see how I was holding up. I can’t even tell you what that meant to me.)

So that week passed. My colleague came back. We all tried to adjust to the new normal.

At first it wasn’t all bad. There’s a honeymoon period, when a new manager is finding their feet and the staff are learning their management style. But the honeymoon didn’t last long. Batshit started stirring the pot almost right away.

Examples. She’d assign a project to one person, then assign it to someone else too. Sometimes they’d both be working on it without knowing it. Sometimes she’d just pull it from one person to the next, with no explanation to one or guidance for the other. She’d have a meeting and we’d all come out with a course of action, a set of marching orders. After the meeting we’d go back to our offices and start moving things according to that plan, and then she’d come running in, not 10 minutes later, with a completely different set of directions, yelling at us for following the previously agreed-upon plan. There was never any explanation for any of it.  She’d go nuts that we were under budget, even if we knew otherwise, and then come back 2 days later screaming that we were way over budget (even if, again, we knew we weren’t)… and then within a week, swing back the other way again. (No amount of clear communication on our part helped with this budgetary mood-swing. But what are a few more mood swings in the mix, really?)

She’d assign a project to one of us (in this case, me) and have me go through the vendor selection process, assign the project accordingly, start work… and in the meantime she would call another (subpar) vendor and move the project and the budget without my knowledge. And then, after it was all done, make me call the superior vendor, and pull the project they were already working on for us, out from under them. (Please, please, do not $%@& with my vendor, okay? They’re a great partner and they do terrific work for us.) Then she’d ignore any input from me (or any of us), insist on making all the decisions about the project – no matter how terrible (terrible design, terrible messaging, terrible execution) – all the while telling me and everyone else that it was my project.  (Um, thanks anyway, but if you’re going to make all these horrifically bad marketing decisions and ignore any input from me, I’d REALLY prefer that you stopped attaching my name to this project. Oh, and by the way, if you’d left it alone with me and the vendor I chose, the project would not have been such a failure. It also would not have been overbudget to boot. Just saying.)

OK, yeah. I was really angry over that one. On so many levels.

But as much as the way she would destroy projects from within — not unlike termites in a house — could drive me to distraction, it was nothing compared to the way she would treat her staff.

Case in point: One day, she assigns a major project to my colleague.  He’s done this project before, as she well knows. He’s very good at it. It has about a million moving parts and touches 10 other departments that all have to weigh in on it. So, it’s not a blink-and-get-it-done project. But he’s run the project for the last 5 years, and knows the players, the process, the pitfalls. The parts that are turnkey, he turns. For the rest, he starts setting up meetings and getting the ball rolling.

The next day, Batshit calls him out of his office, to the open area where most of us sit (including his staff) and asks him to give us all an update on this massive project. Is it done, is it ready? Why isn’t this done yet? Let me just reiterate, this a weeks-to-finish project, not an overnighter. This is not news to anyone, least of all her. So he gives her (and us, at her request) an update on the progress and next steps. And while he’s talking, every time he shifts his attention to the rest of the room to include us in the discussion or to answer a question, she’s behind him, making faces. Kinda like Chevy Chase during the news on SNL, back in the day [see clip].

It wasn’t a joke. She was doing this to one of her subordinates, and in front of HIS subordinates.
It was INCREDIBLY unprofessional and disrespectful.

Then she let it be known that she wasn’t happy with the speed things were moving forward, and she did the thing that was really meant to tear him down, and say to him and all of us that he wasn’t getting it done: She put me on the project with him.

It was meant to make him feel small, and incompetent. He’s neither, but I’m sure he felt her intention loud and clear.

In a case of all’s well that ends well, it turned out that we were a great team.

I’ve never seen a manager, before or since, who felt like employees-interacting-well-together was a bad thing – especially if the net results were good – but Batshit did. She was totally paranoid; in her mind, if two of her staffers were talking, they must be talking about her, and plotting against her.

She truly intended that “working-together” process to further separate two people who worked very well independently. When instead we managed to work together in a way that let each of us play to our strengths (and the project was wildly successful to boot), she ramped up her mind games, and started whispering in each of our ears about the other.

Unfortunately, the more mind games she played, the more we needed to pull together to survive. And the more we pulled together, the worse she was to us.

I could keep telling you stories. She knew which buttons to push to hurt me most, or to make us craziest. Being nuts herself gave her an inside track on that sort of thing. I could tell stories all day long, actually, because I worked for her for more than a year and every day was a new adventure in insanity. But I’ll just sum it up to say that working for Batshit was a little slice of hell on earth, professionally, emotionally and mentally.

Working for a truly crazy person makes you start to go a little crazy yourself, by the way. Another woman we worked with very aptly described it as similar to being in a mentally abusive marriage… no one outside sees how bad it is, but on the inside, you’re being pulled apart bit by bit.

BUT…

I survived working for Batshit.

My colleague and I got to be friends, in spite of her efforts to tear us apart. Still are, truth be told.

Our former boss is running a great company in spite of her best efforts to crush him.

When the Shuffle came through and 75% of manager positions were eliminated… she went before me.  [HA! I WIN!]

Yes, I got let go too. But it was an incredibly positive experience. I actually giggled when they let me go, I was so glad to leave it all behind.  I had a new job out from under her shadow within a scant few weeks and I never have to work with or for her again. Praise be to God.

My friend-and-colleague now runs the department over at our former company. It took him FOREVER to undo a lot of the mess she’d left, but every day he gets up and starts over and tries to make sense out of insanity. Good man. Keep on keeping on. Fight the good fight.

And just remember what I told you, way back then, about where to send projects if I get hit by a bus. 🙂

Oh yeah, and next time, don’t wait 2+ years to get to know new people, huh? 😉

PS I should clarify that in spite of my tone here, I don’t mean any disrespect-by-extrapolation to any of the other managers I’ve had, and I have had more than 10 bosses over my last 3 companies. They were all characters in their own way… everyone has their story, their quirks, their ways of being interesting. There were some I worked well with, and some I learned how to work with. There were some I really enjoyed as people as well as managers, and some I felt simple professional respect for… but whatever else I felt or feel, I have learned something from all of them.

It’s just that… from Batshit I mostly learned how NOT to be a manager  .. and how much I could survive.

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About aka gringita
Flotsam generator. Amateur photographer. Avid traveler. Christ follower.

4 Responses to Post script

  1. markp427 says:

    Unfortunately, bad bosses are more the norm than the exception, in my working experience. I have no idea why that is, but a quick calculation in my head tells me the bad have outnumbered the good 3-1.

    No wonder I’m clinging to this self-employment dream so hard…

    Like

    • aka gringita says:

      I have been so fortunate. Like I said, most of my managers had their quirks (hey, I’m quirky too; quirks are par for the course) but most were actually really good. This one was just a Really Extreme Exception.

      Like

  2. congluteous says:

    LOVE LOVE this post!

    Like

  3. Pingback: Two days of obsession « aka Gringita

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