Some bosses are total monsters. (Christine Cavalier/Flickr)

The Drive Home: The boss whisperers

By Chris Williams

They do exist, in spirit anyway. Lurking behind the scenes, taking credit for things they haven’t done. Ill informed, they allocate duties to the wrong people and misread the office culture. They seem constantly busy while getting nothing done and laugh at all the worst jokes while getting confused and irritated by the best ones.

They notice when you’re one minute late for work, but have no problem asking you to stay an extra hour or two on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. They have a family but you wonder why you have never seen them. Trivial things upset them while matters of vital importance clearly don’t register with them in any way. The make employee work schedules with algorithms normally used for generating random numbers while “days-off” are awarded when they are least needed and never when they are requested. On sunny days, staff are made to stay inside with the heat on while on cold, wet winter days, outside chores are suddenly found that have no apparent relevance to what anyone is doing.

And do they chip in when needed? Are they around to re-stack already perfectly stacked pallets in the rain? No, because they suddenly have a “management meeting” that materializes out of the blue and for no apparent reason at all.

The Boss Whisperer is an enigma. A person devoid of usefulness, yet promoted to the heights of responsibility, non-valued yet inescapable. How do people so underwhelming, so detached from reality, so annoying and inept become our superiors, our managers, and our bosses? This is a valid query and older than the joke your boss tells at the Christmas party every year.

In The Modern Employer: A Handbook for Establishing a Dysfunctional Work Environment, author Frank Contradiction observes that the modern employer has different attributes than he had ever seen before: small, underdeveloped cerebellums (like those of people who can’t parallel park or who are offended by Halloween costumes), plus a never-ending supply of bad jokes and unfunny anecdotes. Frank speculates that modern managers have been crossbred with small, uninteresting potatoes, beets, and turnips, and that the new attributes are a manifestation of the starches found in these vegetables. He also discovered this new breed of “bosses” are slower-minded, weaker-willed, and less inspirational than traditional managers (and vegetables for that matter), focussing on disrupting the natural flow of the office and getting upset by things that just aren’t that important.

In a controlled experiment designed to elicit better communication and cooperation between employers, supervisors, managers and their employees, Frank chose four managers from three different sectors: government, private, and not-for-profit. He asked each participating manager to organize a random group of people into four different teams – those that were productive, those who were procrastinators, those who were under-trained, and those who were still asleep.

All three participants immediately got to work by being called away for special meetings in totally different time zones leaving Frank to organize the groups himself. When he was done he realized that all three participants had already taken credit for his work and that he had suddenly been rescheduled to work Saturday and would miss his daughter’s piano recital.

Frank was confused and a little scared. While contemplating his predicament, Frank was violently accosted by one of the managers he had recruited and given a stern warning about “wasting company time” and “not seeing the bigger picture.” Frank, full of anxiety and stress, ignored their bad breath and diligently began doing all their work for them.

Well played Boss Whisperer, well played.

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii gets top spot in The World

It was already a nice Christmas present, but Keith Moore was really… Continue reading

McNeill fined again for illegal fishing

A local man with a long history of poaching has been convicted… Continue reading

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Old Massett taps grassroots for community plan

Over coffee, kitchen tables, and community dinners, Old Massett is taking a… Continue reading

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

B.C. cougar kitten rescued after mother struck by vehicle

Conservation Officers find home for young kitten found dehydrated and frostbitten near Williams Lake

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Women’s movement has come a long way since march on Washington: Activists

Vancouver one of several cities hosting event on anniversary of historic Women’s March on Washington

Liberals’ 2-year infrastructure plan set to take 5: documents

Government says 793 projects totalling $1.8 billion in federal funds have been granted extensions

Workers shouldn’t be used as ‘pawns’ in minimum wage fight: Wynne

Comments from Kathleen Wynne after demonstrators rallied outside Tim Hortons locations across Canada

John ‘Chick’ Webster, believed to be oldest living former NHL player, dies

Webster died Thursday at his home in Mattawa, Ont., where he had resided since 1969

Most Read