For the women who need us most

For the women who need us most

I’m Werking On My…

I’m Werking On My…

‘Horrible Bosses’ – when managers make work a living hell
By Trudie Whitham
Image: horrible bosses text

There is one thing you can count on to turn a day at work from good to bad. People.

Whether it’s a customer or a co-worker, as soon as you come into contact with them the mood is ruined. You walk into work, see their face, and immediately want to turn straight back around and go home. But this is made a thousand times worse when the person in question is none other than the manager.

This is the person who decides whether your day is going to be a dream or a nightmare.

But let’s not just assume that all managers are hellish – it’s just that we’re choosing to focus on the ones that are.

I’ve narrowed it down to four of the main manager stereotypes.

The Aggressive One

This is the one with anger issues and zero professional boundaries. The kind of person that has no concern for the emotional wellbeing of their staff members and abuses the benefits that being a manager gives them.

Anna, 40, is a former bar manager who left her job due to an intolerable owner – she worked for him for four years where both her and her husband were live-in managers.

“He basically didn’t like my husband and made rude comments about him all the time and he is incredibly rude to the staff. He would turn up and literally everything we did was wrong, bearing in mind he approached us to ‘run’ his pub. He would shout and swear at us and up until a year ago he or his partner would let themselves into our flat. He’s a smoker, we’re not, he would smoke in our flat, he smoked in my bedroom, and have a snoop.

“Once, in front of all my staff, he got drunk and shouted that I had paid the glass washer the wrong amount, which we didn’t. She told him we didn’t and started smacking his head shouting at me and my husband in front of my staff.

“He made several of my staff cry – shouting at them and calling them stupid names. In November everyone said I had become depressed, I didn’t see it but I went to the doctors, crying, and I blurted out how he was treating me, how I couldn’t cope anymore. I was so very low.

“I ended up on anti-depressants. Not even my family spoke to me the way he does. I’m a grown women and I allowed this. When I told him I was leaving he basically said I’ve made a big mistake and I’m stupid to walk away from the pub.”

The Insensitive One

This is the kind of manager that has no regard for the feelings of others – no concept of sympathy or emotion within the workplace.

Helen, 60, was a health care worker during the Covid-19 pandemic when she was belittled for simply trying to protect her vulnerable clients.

“During the time when Covid was at its peak, as a community care worker, we had to get our injections to protect our clients. So I’d had my first injection, that was fine, and then I had my second injection, to protect the people we were going to see, but it absolutely floored me – I was really ill.

“When I got up to work on the Saturday morning, I felt like I’d been run over by a bus – I felt that ill and I knew that I couldn’t do my job to full capacity. I just couldn’t do it. Bearing in mind I’d never had a single day off work during Covid.

“So I rung my line manager, and the first thing she said to me was ‘what do you want?’.

“I said I was supposed to be on call and that I was phoning to say that I won’t be in work this morning. The response that I got was ‘you are going to work; I’m not bothered how ill you feel – you are going to work’.

“At this point I was just thinking why was my line manager speaking to me in this way. I was getting so upset, when I put the phone down, I just went into my living room, sat down, and burst into tears because of all the hard work we were put through during the pandemic and we were just trying to protect our clients by having our injections and that was the reaction I got from me not feeling well.

“It made me feel absolutely worthless when all I was trying to do was my best.”

The Pushy One

This is the one with no shame when it comes to pushing their workers beyond their limits – applying work loads that are simply overwhelming. The kind of manager that makes work days exhausting, both mentally and physically.

Erin, 21, was a charity worker when she left her job because of the demand and pressure that her manager was putting on her.

“The job was sold to me as flexible – one of their unique selling points was that you ‘own your time’. I quickly discovered that this did not apply to me.

“My working hours were meant to be 8.30am to 5pm, but I didn’t log off until 6/7pm most days, sometimes even 9pm. My manager would give me a list of tasks far too long for one person and then expect them to be done immediately.

“I worked at a charity which meant that it was instilled in me that our work was for the greater good and that we had a big responsibility to provide services.

“One time I said I was going to finish early as I’d worked a 12-hour day the day before, he said I could finish early ‘just this once’ but then listed the things that needed to be done for the morning after – essentially forcing me to stay at work. I was constantly working late and well above my contracted hours, which meant I was exhausted and often too tired to do anything in my spare time.

“I’d spend my weekends catching up on rest before starting another week of work again.

“I struggled significantly emotionally and was sometimes brought to tears over the insane expectations placed on me and how tired I was. It got to the point where I wasn’t working to live, but living to work.

“I remember a time where we had our one-to-one and he’d made me feel like I wasn’t enough and that I was asking too much, when all I had asked was to use half of my lunch hour to finish at 4.30pm as I was struggling with my physical disabilities.

“I stayed behind in the meeting room afterwards to have a cry and call my mum, before I had to go back to work and pretend that I was fine.”

The B*tchy One

This is the kind of person we’re all familiar with – whether it applies to a manager or not. But when it comes to a b*tchy manager they are simply the worst. They simply make your blood boil with their snarky comments and queen bee attitudes.

Jade, 20, currently works in retail and says that she has a ‘manager from hell’.

“I work for a really popular retail shop in London and there’s this one manager who thrives off of telling people off and trying to scare people – she’s admitted it herself.

“She’s also best friends with the store managers and she just b*tches to them about everyone and each other – sometimes I just feel very picked on, a group of us will be chatting and she’ll personally tell me off because she knows I won’t chat back to her.

“She ignores the people that will talk back to her, she just likes trying to make people scared of her. One time, when I was going through a hard time personally, she picked on me so persistently it induced a really bad panic attack that I’ve never experienced before.”

Graph: ‘Werk Magazine’

Werk’s Advice

These personalities are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the personalities of managers – some can even be a combination of all four if you’re really unlucky.

But, even as obvious as it may sound, you can’t allow these kinds of people to get to you. You’re there to do your job and you’re there because you’re good enough and skilled enough. One person should not have the power to dictate how your day is going to go – even if the mere sight of them makes you want to turn around and walk straight back home.