Important career lessons I’ve learned from having terrible bosses

December 14, 2020

We tend to overly emphasize on amazing mentor bosses, when in fact, you can learn just as much (if not more!) from a bad boss. 

I’ve had my fair share of terrible bosses throughout my 15-year banking career. Many of them simply negatively affected my mental and physical health (big no no!), but others were instrumental in teaching me important career lessons I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. 

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from my nastiest, meanest and worst bosses ever.

Always give negative feedback in private

I once had a boss insult one of my ideas during a team meeting. My manager didn’t just tell me my idea was bad, she made sure I felt like the stupidest person on the planet by ranting about my lack of creativity for 15 minutes in front of all of my colleagues. I didn’t mind being called out on my lack of ingenuity, my idea was in fact not that great, but I did mind being ridiculed in front of my peers and made to feel like the tiniest person ever in the presence of so many witnesses. 

We all make mistakes. We all have below par days. That’s okay. What’s not okay is to have someone call you out on your mistakes and criticize you in front of others. It’s much more effective to pass on constructive criticism privately, trust me. 

Learn to keep your cool when things don’t go your way

I once had an overly dramatic boss. It was literally the end of the world, every single day. Whether it related to problems with clients, or office politics, everything made him angry. He would raise his voice, be verbally abusive with staff and give us long interminable lectures.

Problems are always bound to arise in the workplace. I’ve learned that when faced with an issue, I always need to take a step back, go for a walk, breathe and collect myself before speaking with anyone. It’s not acceptable to act with colleagues, or all people for a matter of fact, in any other way but respectable and calm.

Let smart people do their job

I despise micromanagers. No, I HATE micromanagers. These are the type that make you feel that you’re incapable of carrying out any task without complete supervision. They need you to check in every hour, give them progress reports, as if at any minute you could slack off and run off to join the circus without their knowledge. 

I once had a boss who made me feel so nervous about going to work every day, micromanaging me to the point I would have to let him know if I took a bathroom break. I started to hate going to work and my performance suffered. I knew I was smart and good at my job but all I wanted to do was get the hell out of there, which I did three months later.

Smart people don’t thrive with micromanagers. If you hire someone you believe is smart and capable, then let them do their job! Give them space, encouragement, and support whenever needed, but let them prove themselves on their own.

Regardless of all the bad, these experiences were instrumental in paving the way in my career and making me the person I am today. 

Thank you, bosses.  

Leave a Reply