Bad boss, BAD! (and cyberart installations)

In today's IT Blogwatch, we look at bad bosses (something that both of your humble blogwatchers have shared experience of). Not to mention Ken Rinaldo's Emergent Systems, "exploring the confluence and coevolution of organic and technological cultures" ...

Hands up if you've never had a bad boss... Nobody? Why are we not surprised? Mary Brandel's story would have many of us recall the boss who made our lives miserable, "Looking back, [William McQuiston] sees his former manager as a classic example of a specific type of bad boss: the overgrown technologist who gets rewarded for brilliant technical work by being promoted to a position for which he's not qualified ... this is just one of many bad manager scenarios in IT ... Criteria such as technical capabilities or a domineering personality may lead to managerial positions more often than, say, a desire to help other people ... So if you're stuck with a bad boss and don't want to leave your job, what do you do? ... maintain an unwavering focus on the work that needs to be done rather than letting your energy be drawn into the vortex of a toxic personality ... Though extroverted and a master politician with his peers and superiors, [John Wade's] boss was passive-aggressive and unsupportive of his team ... instead of suffering in the shadow cast by this manager, he determined to let his capabilities shine through to anyone who might notice ... While taking this 'hunker down' mentality, it helps to minimize interactions with the boss, except when you know the exchange will be a positive one ... [Peter Baker] advised his team members to stay out of the manager's way, avoid the politics and focus on their jobs. He also suggested that they take 10 minutes each afternoon to document everything they'd done that day [otherwise know as C.Y.A - cover you ass-ets] ... The first step is to define exactly what [your] needs are, such as ownership of certain kinds of decisions, more resources or just the room to succeed or fail on your own."

» A Survivor commented: "The bad bosses were bad in different ways: one would be a tyrant, another a blame-shifter, another someone totally devoid of any people skills whatsoever. I have tried 'managing up', going to upper management, trying to get help from HR and none of it has ever worked. My only advice when someone has a bad boss is LEAVE. No one will help you to get rid of a bad boss and very few ever realize they are bad or try to self-improve ... If you find a good boss, try to stay with that person forever. If he or she moves to another company, try to move there too. There are so few good bosses, especially in IT, that the risks of ending up working for another fool are very high. Keep your skills sharp and your resume fresh. You'll need it."

» Anonymous added some good advice: "my boss, with limited IT knowledge (nearly all gained since becoming my boss), gets how hard it is for me to run my area. Why? Communication. I became work friends with my boss. I gave overview yet accurate details on one area I am responsible for. Then another. Over time, she now gets what my challenges are that nobody else really sees. Just remember, don't flood your boss with info, and don't inform them just when you are upset, but rather give them the info when you both are in a pretty good mood."

» FeriCyde: "You can't help but come away (if you have experience in IT) by nodding your head in agreement ... If you have a bad manager, you have to look away from your relationship with them and focus instead upon what you're at work for -- solutions to problems ... Unless you get fired for doing the right thing (longer story there -- let's avoid that one) you should be ok. I found that having a good relationship with everyone else was a sure way to gain the traction needed with someone who's troublesome."

» Grishnakh: "If you want to hire a manager, get someone who has a management degree. There's whole colleges for exactly that, where they teach people how to be managers. Sure, they're not technically competent, but a good manager doesn't need to be since he won't be doing any technical work; he can learn what he needs on the job from his technical employees, and defer to them whenever there's a question. Part of the problem with technical people being promoted into management is that they think they're still technically competent, even though they're really not, so they make bad decisions. A pure management person wouldn't have this problem, would realize he's not technically competent, and would involve his employees on technical issues."

» KermodeBear raises a valid point for not promoting them: "my managers ask me if I would be interested in a Team Lead position ... every time I turn it down ... What they fail to see is what I see every day: I do not work well with others. I hate being interrupted with phone calls, emails, people dropping by, and I don't like being responsible for what other people do. I generally don't like people at all, to tell you the truth ... To be an effective manager/leader, you need to be able to deal with people and you need to be organized ... they see Programming Manager as the Next Step above writing code ... I don't want to become one of those people who exemplify the Peter Principle."

Buffer overflow:

And finally...  Emergent systems. "Augmented fish reality" anyone?

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at Also contributing to today's post: Judi Dey, our very own Antipodean.

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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