It is often quoted in work circles by the Management preaching junta, that employees do not quit organizations, they quit bosses. A boss can make you or break you. The power that a person in a role of authority wields is dangerous thing. A boss’ responsibility does not end with just delegating tasks and ensuring that they are completed- it seeps down- unconsciously- to an emotional level. He can make you enjoy the most mundane of tasks- or make you abhor the most interesting and challenging ones. Most bosses have no idea about the way they influence every action of their subordinates.
The B-school had one entire semester devoted to ‘project’, which involved us picking a problem area, doing the necessary background study, coming up with questionnaires, getting a sample population to answer it applying thought and formulae to process the answers…and finally coming up with a solution to the problem. The three line description- when I read it now terrifies me. Imagine the magnitude when we actually sat down to do the whole thing!
So we were assigned guides for assistance and I was not really convinced with the guide I was assigned to (young, foolish, I was), because he was the Finance prof and I had chosen to do a project in Consumer Behaviour. The real reason however was that I sucked at FM and Accounts and used to flee at the sight of this man. Now I had to work with him for six whole months! We had barely exchanged more than a few sentences over the past 1.5 years!
So I marched into the Head of Department’s room to request that he change my guide. I had a long list of reasons- most, I reasoned, were sensible ones. My HOD looks like a small version of Dumbledore. A wizened man, full of wisdom. He heard me out and said, ‘Okay, young lady, you remember this. I can change your guide now, but I wont. Because you need to get used to the idea of working with people you don’t really want to work with. You do realize that tomorrow when you join work; you will have no freedom to choose your boss, don’t you?’ So I sulked away..but the project was a hit and was considered for publication and all that. (hee)
Post joining work, I have had the privilege of working with some wonderful people, and because there can never be perfection in the world, I have worked with some really mean beings as well. I have had bosses who have been patient with me, who have stood by me, for me, who I could be friends with. They listened to me, gave suggestions, knew how to handle my outbursts and tried to accommodate my ideas and aspirations to whatever extent they could. These are bosses who make you re-think quitting your job- you don’t want to quit simply because the boss is just so amazing!
Then of course, I have worked with some others who personify ‘mean’. Those were black days that I wish to stub out of my memory- working with such people made me question my own capabilities, my sense of self worth and esteem. Today I see some friends stuck with horrible managers. They bitch about them with an intensity and passion that startles even themselves. Such managers, like I read in an article about Arnab Goswami, ‘ rent a place in your head. They are present in your facebook status messages, in your Blackberry messages, and their memory dominates your conversations’. They make life miserable- emotionally, physically and psychologically. They control not just your work life, but also whatever you do outside of work. The amount of negativity that they spew- bogs you down and extends into your living room and bedroom as well. Picking on you, giving you mundane tasks, making you feel worthless..such vindictive people need to be warned about.
Most people crack under this. I cracked too. But it is all about how you pick up the pieces and stand back on your feet that make you stronger and worthy of respect. Once the storm is over, once you quit- that is when you learn appreciation. You learn to appreciate a decent boss, you learn to appreciate the joy of getting approval for a vacation..you learn to value praise..you learn to be grateful for the many, many small things that come with work, that life will never be the same again!
Thanks to all the not-so-nice people that I worked under, I now have a list of things I-will-never-be and things-I-will-never-say in place. A bad boss teaches you many things- the most important of which is what I will never want to emulate, ever.