July 19, 2005

Narcoleptic Micromanagement

So, you hear the one about the narcoleptic manager? No, you wouldn't have. You see, when I was in that training class last week, learning how to manage people "effectively" which I guess means not beating them with staplers anymore or forcing them to shine my shoes twice a day with their ties, I started thinking about my biggest managerial pet peeves. My biggest one? Micromanaging. Which brings me to the Tale of the Narcoleptic Micromanager.

When I graduated from college, I had a major career goal - make money. Aside from that, I left my options somewhat open. I ended up getting a gig at a small non-profit working as its assistant communications director. My boss - who we shall call Sarah - was awesome. For the most part. Sarah was a really high-energy person to put it mildly. And she always had to know what was going on. The whole energy issue was only exacerbated by the fact that she was narcoleptic. Now, I know what you're saying. "Isn't narcolepsy a neurological disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness? Don't people with narcolepsy experience excessive daytime sleepiness and intermittent, uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep during the daytime? Don't these sudden sleep attacks may occur during any type of activity at any time of the day?" Yes, you'd be correct (thanks WebMD). However, some narcoleptics, like Sarah, also take a wonderdrug that keeps their mental powers acute for stretches as long as 95 days without interruption. For instance, I'd get into the office in the mornings and there would be 10 to 20 emails from Sarah that had come in overnight, spread out over the entire night. And as much as I loved her, that was just micromanaging hell.

One night, a few of us were pushing a publishing deadline and were working overtime. We had a very small office and everyone had their own cubes. If you work in cubes, you realize that everyone has their own, unique typing style. It was around 11:00 in the evening and we were all working furiously. The staccato of Sarah's manic typing echoed throughout the office...until we all heard a very slight thud. We called her name a few times. Nothing. Then four of us headed to her cube...and found her face down on her keyboard, a bizarre pattern of letters and numbers streaming across her monitor. At last, she slept.

Certainly I can't be alone. What are your worst boss stories? Come on...bitch about work. It'll be fun!

Posted by Chris at July 19, 2005 07:32 AM

There is a certain "boss" like that where i work...she is the queen of micromanaging, always taking on tons of projects so she can look good to the up and ups, but never gets them done b/c she's bitten off more than she can chew. Oh and she also loves to know everything. She has to be "kept in the loop". Everytime i hear her say that i want to cringe. She's one of those "Can talk the talk, but can't walk the walk" bosses. Its pretty annoying. Plus my personal favorite is the constant changing of policies. I am trained one thing, and then she changes it to her liking without any notice or any regard to anyone else. What a joy it is working here. Thank god for coffee!!

Posted by: Michelle at July 19, 2005 08:21 AM

My first "real" job was at a grocery store. It was exciting to finally get a paycheck! Unfortunately, about two weeks after I started, there was a change in management, and my dad's bitter old ex-girlfriend became manager. I actually didn't know what she was at the time,... all I knew was that she HATED me. Always yelling, usually in front of customers, and she kept telling everyone really nasty things about me. A winning situation, let me tell you!

Posted by: Heather at July 19, 2005 08:23 AM

My current boss is a micromanager which while annoying is not like a previous boss I had. I worked for a screamer.

This guy would scream at us at the top of his lungs if we made any kind of mistake, thus causing me increased anxiety thus causing me to make more mistakes. It became a vicious cycle. I was so happy the day he fired me.

Posted by: wendy at July 19, 2005 08:31 AM

worst one: the time that the VP insisted all the materials behind tab 4 were wrong in her notebook and also 30 other council members. while she whispered to me to fix it! she skipped to the next agenda item. i ran around like a fool making copies (which by the by were color coded. why the hell i didn't make the executive decision to copy everything on white paper is something i still wonder about 7 years later. i know, i know. let it go woman!). anyway. i hurry back only to be told that the VP had been looking at the wrong tab and that in fact everything was okay. still, that didn't stop her from going to the "offending" tab, ripping the pages out and replacing it with the stack i gave her. ah. the need to save face was strong with that one.

then, while we were debriefing about the meeting, she had the nerve to say we needed better quality control over the meeting notebooks. and she said with it a straightface! i learned a lot from that experience. the main thing being that the bitch was crazy. :D

Posted by: pea at July 19, 2005 08:33 AM

i'm not sure you want to get me started on this one. =) but anyway, i've only had 2 bosses (so far) that i never wish to work with or see again. the most recent one was my boss from my previous job. the company provided General & Professional liability insurance to alternative health practishioners (massager therapists, yoga instructors, etc.) and my boss, at first glance seemed really great; willing to help others out, good with business, etc. i worked for him for just under a year (just a few days shy, actually) and in that time i came to learn that he is, simply put, a jerk. he's incredibly egotistical, stubborn, selfish, and totally driven by money. and he's totally creepy and dirty, too. he's 60 and still practices massage therapy, which isn't really bad, in and of itself... but he's just got that creepy vibe. his last wife was just in her 40s when they divorced, and his new girlfriend is in her 30s. that's just nasty! but anyway... he's one of those who thinks his shit don't stink and all the while he's being terribly critical of everyone else; he truly believes that if you don't see things his way and do things the way he thinks it should be done, then you're just stupid. for instance, he started this "Get out of debt" program that was started to get people out from under their mortgage debt (as well as other debt) so that they could actually own their houses, cars, etc. in reality, it was a pyramid scheme, plain and simple. but try telling him that and he would tell you over and over that it wasn't and give a lame example of how it wasn't (he never really had any good, strong evidence as to how it wasn't a pyramid scheme) and he would just tell you how stupid you were for not joining it and getting out of debt. just a lot of stuff like that. also, he pretty much paid his employees to be his friends, cuz he didn't have any in real life. any time he had some sort of function for the business or a birthday party for one of his kids, the employees were expected to be there. but the kicker was this... he had spent away so much of the company's money that he had to do some layoffs to keep it afloat. so, instead of talking to all of us and letting people go on a friday or something like that... i got a call at 7:30pm on Sunday night telling me that, effective immediately, i would have to be looking for another job. i gave him a big attitude about it and questioned him why he couldn't have given more notice or, at least, done it in person. and because of that, as i heard through the grapevine, i was not rehireable. so now i pretty much despise the man. don't get me wrong, i'm totally happy to be done with him and to not have to listen to his shit anymore... but the huge salary has definitely been missed. heh.

Posted by: Judy at July 19, 2005 09:15 AM

My boss story:
Caught "her" in bed with my "wife" of three years.

I win...

Posted by: Lee at July 19, 2005 09:51 AM

I will not tell you my bad work stories, because blech! who wants to dwell?
But - I work with a narcoleptic! And I love her, but I worry about her - she takes the wonderdrug, and gets very little sleep - just works like crazy until she collaspes. Sigh. There have been a few times we've all wanted to throttle her, but all in all, we love her.

Posted by: samantha at July 19, 2005 09:51 AM

The President of my last job takes the cake. She micromanaged to death and made all her employees (some who've been there over 10 years) feel stupid. She'd purposely talk down to you like you were hired help, and if you offered a good suggestion, she'd get mad b/c you thought of it, not her. And she loved to blow things out of proportion and make sure she reamed you out in front of everyone.

While I was there, one of the Marketing ladies became extremely ill. She ended up in the hospital but no one could figure out what was wrong. Turns out she needed gall bladder surgery.
Throughout the whole time the woman was out of the office, the President would call her and tell her she needed to come back in right this minute b/c she couldn't believe how disrespectful and irresponsible the woman was being, and how could she get sick like this?!
The woman was getting surgery for chrissakes!

There is SO much more to the story, but if I sat here and told it, there'd be no more room for anyone else to comment. But believe me, I've never met anyone as rude, vindictive and petty as that woman. And I'm so glad I don't work for her sorry ass anymore.

Posted by: Kitty at July 19, 2005 10:06 AM

Oh this is a super topic. The short version of my Jackass Boss from the Job from Hell. I had a performance review in which was I was berrated and yelled at as to why I presented a new production schedule when I was only a "part-time" employee. And I had to tell him that it was because he had asked me not a "full-time" employee to create the production schedule in the first place. Taken aback he went on to say that he had totally planned on firing me the month I was out with double knee surgeries. Then in the same breath asked me what I was going to bring to the table in the next three quarters. Yeah, nothing but my letter of resignation. He was a jerk.

Posted by: Karen at July 19, 2005 10:37 AM

My very first job was 7 years ago at an import-export agency. We all worked in very small cubes, and the owner had a big office where the door was always open. On my first day on the job some people warned me to not be surprised if he farted, since he used to fart outloud whenever he felt like it. I didn't believe them, of course. Well, after 3 days of working there I heard the guy fart as he was passing by.
I quit 4 days after.

Posted by: ava at July 19, 2005 10:40 AM

I live in Michigan. We have bad weather in the winter. I had a crazy boss who used to pull my timecard if I was even two minutes late during an ice/snow storm. I lived 30 miles away, he lived two blocks away. He ran a manfacturing company and everyone in the back end was an illegal. They seriously had about 3 social security cards between a dozen employees. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't sign off on tax forms and the like that we sent to the state. He also kept a loaded gun in his desk and was totally paranoid since he had screwed over several people (some to the point of financial ruin) and used to think it was "funny" to take people back into the factory part and tell the illegals that they were from the INS.

And on top of it all, he was a screamer and brought his kids to work everyday rather than paying for daycare. They were allowed to run amok and basically do whatever they wanted.

He couldn't understand why he had such turnover with office staff.

Posted by: Lisa at July 19, 2005 10:42 AM

I guess the only real freak experience I have is the one who couldn't hold a conversation with me at eye-level. But lots of women have that experience.

HOWEVER, I DID have a teacher who threw staplers at us every time she got mad. Which was often.

She didn't last long either...hmmm....

Posted by: Queen Of Ass at July 19, 2005 10:51 AM

Hmmmm.... well, I think the best one was when I was a personal assistant to a young, extremely wealthy single business owner here in Atlanta. I worked in the office but spent a lot of time at his kajillion-dollar condo. One morning he called me to come over to "help him out with something"... he was hung over after having had a three-way with a couple of strippers and needed me to make him breakfast and clean out his bong.

God, I wish I was kidding.

Posted by: Stacy at July 19, 2005 11:19 AM

EEK. That's funny. I'll do a track back for my boss story.

Posted by: Pixie at July 19, 2005 11:42 AM

My sister has narcolepsy and so does my cubicle neighbor. It's a fascinating condition.

I won't bore you with all my nightmare bosses I've had too many. The worst one was... the psycho? the control freak? the hypochondriac(s)? No! The career sexual harasser who took all his clothes off in front of me. In a parking lot. The dude was WHACK! He was the founder/ceo of the company. Not for long though. After I was done, he was relegated to working at home with a "honorary" title.

Here's to non-narcoleptic macromanagers! (Hear! Hear!) Careful with the staplers!

Posted by: Ms. Q at July 19, 2005 11:50 AM

P.S. Stacy has the best story! That sounds exactly like the boss I was talking about except I refused to step foot inside his house. But I got to hear all the stripper/bong stories. Good times.

Posted by: Ms. Q at July 19, 2005 11:55 AM

of course, the most unbelievable part of your story is the part about the young college grad whose only goal was to make money so he took a job as AN ASST. COMM DIRECTOR AT A SMALL NON-PROFIT. Oh, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

Posted by: kalisah at July 19, 2005 12:25 PM

well, my boss isn't as terrible as many of the above commenters but he's the only boss i've ever had so it seems bad enough. (first job, been here for 2 years. only 18 years old, shuddup)
he's very sexist and cocky on the outside but we've recently discovered that it's just a complete defense mechanism and he's actually very very insecure. he "found god" a year or so ago and has been mr church ever since. this isn't bad or anything (god's not my homeboy, but whatever) but he also loves to brag about the drugs he used to do "lifetimes ago" and how he managed this stripclub downtown. wtf. way to go, sister christian. can't wait to leave.. only *checks calendar* 16 more days!

Posted by: kate at July 19, 2005 12:48 PM

Back when I was working for Satan I had the nerve to leave my desk after 6 hours or so to pee. When I got back, he was all ranting and raving and pacing and "I expect you to be at your desk when I come out here. Where were you??!!" I replied "I had to pee". That shut him up but quick.

Posted by: Kathryn at July 19, 2005 01:07 PM

Oh the stories I could share.. but my paranoia of being "dooced" is very high these days. I can just see my boss, after $15,000 worth of IT work to get her TREO to finally sync, somehow coming across something I write.

After my husband's German aunt, who we haven't seen in 3 years happened upon his blog, I have learned to not trust the internets with secrets.

Posted by: HipMamaB at July 19, 2005 01:10 PM

Well, do you want to hear about the one who would collect contributions for office birthday gifts then pocket the money, charge the gifts and send in expense reports for the charges? Or the one who talked me into going on contract with my job to prevent being part of massive layoffs and then personally signed my contract cancellation the day after my contract started while I was FIVE MONTHS PREGNANT? There are just so many reasons that I really should work alone... I actually had one very amazing boss who upon my exit interview sat with me for over an hour in a mentoring/coaching session. But he was an anomaly in the bosses of my life story...

Posted by: Amy at July 19, 2005 01:51 PM