A fictional bad boss may be entertaining, but real bad bosses are often no laughing matter.
Our story on bad bosses prompted many readers to vent about their own experiences with bad bosses – and the serious toll it took on their health, careers and families.
Here are a few of the tales of woe. Some stories have been edited slightly for clarity, and none of the stories were independently verified.
One reader described a boss who terrorized one team – and then was transferred over to terrorize another.
Walking on eggshells
“I had the worst bully boss ever. This guy would belittle you on a daily basis, he had a horrible temper. He would go ballistic at the drop of a hat, knock office furniture over, throw things and make everyone around him miserable. The whole department had to walk on eggshells around this guy. If you made a mistake, first he would go nuts and then not speak to you for days or weeks. He played favorites and alienated others. He would send you nasty e-mails every day to the point where the worst part of the day was checking your email. He micromanaged everyone to the point where you were afraid to do anything. This jerk was finally transferred to another location and now our department has the nicest boss and everyone is happy and productive. The funny thing is upper management told this jerk before they transferred him that they liked what he did and to do the same thing where he was transferred to. I have pity for the people he now manages.”
Lots of readers wrote about weird office behavior, but this story of a bad boss with a whiffle ball definitely stood out.
Whiffle ball in the office
“Most of my career, I've had good bosses and mediocre bosses and one really bad and mentally ill boss. She was the comptroller of the company and I was the AR/AP Bookkeeper. She would tell me how to do a task one day, the next day it would be a completely different way and the yelling would commence. When she got really angry, she would bat a whiffle ball around the office. She had a really great swing. Many times I'm sure my head would be missing had I not gotten under my desk.
"She fired me. It was the first time I'd been fired, and I was devastated at first. Then, after about a week, I noticed the pain in my gut had disappeared and other symptoms of stress disappeared as well and I decided my firing was probably the best thing that could have happened in that circumstance. I later learned she had lost her job and had been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. I'm not sure if she ever worked again. Even with all the abuse, I still felt sorry for her when I'd learned of her fate. “
Over on our Facebook page, one reader remembered a boss who was so bad people expected to leave the office crying.
Leaving your review in tears
“The running joke in the office was, 'If you didn't leave your review in tears, you must be having relations with him.' He had me thinking that I was a horrible worker until I got my new job and get rave reviews for the next 14 years.”
Many readers said they either left or were forced out of their jobs because of bad bosses. Often, however, it turned out to be the best thing that happened to them.
Getting blamed for boss' mistakes
“I had a boss like that for four years. It was a two-person department, just him and me, so it was easy for him to take the credit for everything that went right and blame me for everything that went wrong (even though the truth was almost always the opposite). Finally, though, he overplayed his hand. After one particularly egregious screw-up (by him) he was doing his usual finger pointing at me, when HIS boss said, 'That's enough -- fire him!'
"So I got fired for his mistakes. But by the time I got home, I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted from my shoulders. I had been under so much stress from him that it had been killing me.
"Now here's the best part: I found another job where I was given an honest opportunity to prove myself, and my career took off very successfully. He, on the other hand, without having me as a scapegoat, was exposed as the fraud he was. He himself was fired within a year, and his career went down the toilet from there.
I realize that justice like that doesn't happen often, but when it does, it is sweet.”
Did you have a boss from hell? Join the discussion.