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What I learned from my horrible first boss

Updated on August 11, 2014

What I learned from my horrible first boss

As I was in my exit interview leaving my very first job out of college, I had to make a decision what to tell human resources regarding my direct supervisor. They were extremely curious as to why I was the fifth person quitting under her within less than a year and a half. I just couldn't wait to get away from the torture, anything would be better, but I was always told not to burn any bridges so I went easy on her. It didn't help since apparently a few of the writers that left before me had told them just enough for this director to finally lose her position.

I worked 9 am to 9 pm on average for a $24,000 per year salary. When people around me quit or were fired, a frequent occurrence, the job jackets would simply be piled on top of my existing insane workload with no explanation. When she misspelled a word in a promotion that went out to thousands, she pointed at two other writers she allegedly assigned to proof read her work. (of course they knew nothing of the piece and it was untrue). The worst was the very condescending way she spoke to everyone, especially anyone over 50 years old who might have been struggling to figure out the new computer system. They didn't have the luxury we all did of learning that technology in college. There's more but you get the picture.

At the time, I was 21 and didn't have the maturity to know that someday this terrible experience would actually serve me well. The other benefit that came out of this traumatic first position was that no matter where I worked afterwards, it seemed comparatively wonderful. You can't fully appreciate what you have unless you have something way worse to compare it to. I guess I should thank her.

Here are the main lessons:

1. How NOT to treat people.

2. Don't blame others. Especially for mistakes they didn't make. If they made a small mistake, a good manager could turn that into a valuable learning opportunity and guide them to do a better job next time.

3. Don't take credit for other people's work.

4. Praise your employees for a job well done. Tell them thank you when deserved. Everyone likes to feel valued.

5. Respect your elders, they still have something to teach us. Regrettably, this boss would completely disregard any input from a gentleman co-worker in his sixties, who may have done some tasks in a more 'old-school' fashion, but he still had a lot of great information to share from all his experience and he had the history of the newspaper like no one else had.

6. People want to work hard for a boss they like and respect. When treated as a valuable team member, employees will strive to produce their best work. It is better to inspire than to diminish people.

7. Eventually, all though it may take way too long in your opinion, what comes around goes around. (She is no longer employed and is struggling to start her own business).

So thank you for the fastest lessons I never wanted to learn at the time. They have served me well over the years. I literally have appreciated every single job and every boss I have had since!


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