Horrible Bosses, we’ve all had one or two of those haven’t we? What you need to accept though is that this is due to their insecurities, and that they will be like this with everyone they feel is beneath them, not just you!
Thinking back to a time when I lived in Exeter, I can think of three female bosses who attempted to make my life hell, all were on a power trip, and all of them had less work experience and knowledge than myself.
Maternity Cover #1
The first was a young girl working for a house builder as a PA, she was due to go on maternity leave, and I had been placed in the contract to cover her, and with a month to have a handover alongside of her first. For the entire month she insisted on referring to me as ‘The Temp’, she refused to use my name, and she continued to introduce me as ‘The Temp’ to everyone else in the office. The month dragged, she showed me no respect whatsoever, and all the time knowing that I had more experience than her, and at all times had still been polite and professional. On the last day of her being in the office I overheard her discussing me with the other girls I would be working alongside, and she was lying and telling them that I hadn’t picked it up very well, and that basically I was going to fuck it all up whilst she was off. They all joined in and said they would keep an eye on me and report back to her, one didn’t like me or the way I looked, and one called me stupid.
The funny thing in all of this was that if anything, the job was beneath me, I had spent years working in London, and could do her job standing on my head. I went home that evening and reminded myself to always ‘know my worth’, and after enjoying a relaxing weekend, I decided that I didn’t need that job, and didn’t need to allow others the power to make me feel bad about myself, so I informed the agency I would not be returning, and along with the reasons why.
This leads me onto the next role within the NHS working as a PA to a female Director. I was warned that she had a reputation and boy she didn’t disappoint! She had no respect for anyone whatsoever who wasn’t at Director level, and she made sure that we all knew it, and as for the PA job title, what a complete joke. My job was to print out all of her emails every single morning, hand them to her, she would write her responses onto the paper copy, hand them back, and I had to reply to all of the emails on her computer. Why I hear you ask…because she had no idea how to use a computer and didn’t want this to become common knowledge.
She actually phoned IT one day screaming that her computer wouldn’t work when I had a day off, guess what, she hadn’t switched it on at the wall. This woman was a Director, and it was hard to believe how she had got that far. I had to answer her calls, call people back with her messages, and the only thing she actually did for herself, was to attend meetings. This woman made my life hell, she would wait until 5pm and then tell me I had to stay behind and do her work, she would take credit for any presentations I produced for her, and she did it all with a smug look on her face. Several months into the role and I phoned in sick with stress for a day, she went bat shit crazy! Her reaction caused more stress, so I took the week off, at which point a lovely letter arrived to offer me 3 months pay to take as long as I needed off. This was a no brainer, take the money and run, I wasn’t entitled to it, I was a temp, clearly this was hush money, who cares, I never had to see that woman again!
Maternity Cover #2
The next temp role was as a secretary within an architects firm, working under the office manager who was a young local girl. She had been there for years, and the only other part of the admin team was a 60 year old lady who was paid very well to make tea and coffee and take mail to the Post Office. I slotted in, I did the work, I kept my head down, and then the Office Manager took her maternity leave. I was offered a perm role to stay on and hold the fort, and I thought I could do a lot worse, the hours and pay were good, and it was close to home. My workload doubled, and on one occasion I asked the elderly lady if she could possibly help, next thing you know I was in a meeting and she called me a bully. The Director told me to understand that she was only there to make the tea and coffee and that yes she was being paid the same as me, but she had been with them for years and was highly thought of.
Whilst the office manager was off I received nothing but praise from the architects for the work I was producing, and I started to really enjoy the roll, my birthday was coming around, and on the day I picked up a large cake and snacks to take into the office with me. I cut the cake into enough pieces for every person to have a slice, and to also have two slices left to take home that evening. At 5pm I grabbed my coat, went to the kitchen and grabbed the cake out of the fridge, and there was only one slice remaining. I was pissed off, but it wasn’t the end of the world, clearly someone had helped themselves to a second piece and not thought to ask, whatever. I did decide however to ask the few people left in the office it they had taken a second piece, and when the lady spoke up to say yes she had, all I said was that the last 2 pieces were for me to take home, so that I could also celebrate with cake in the evening (this sounds so petty as I’m writing it lol).
At no point did I make a big deal of it, so when back in the office on Monday, I was surprised to hear that the other lady had phoned in sick as she felt again that I was a bully. Mid morning her husband then showed up, walked into the ground floor reception area, practically slammed another cake on my desk and walked out. I assumed it was her husband as he didn’t bother to introduce himself, polite guy…not. Enough was enough, I have never and would never bully anyone, and this woman was taking the piss, always trying to get a sympathy vote while I ran around, worked longer hours, and ran the whole office. I wrote my resignation, and felt a wave of relief when I handed it over.
After these 3 experiences I moved back to London, had a blast back in Canary Wharf, loved the contracts I worked in, the respect I was given, then level I worked at, the salary, everything!
Maternity Cover #3
Fast forward, and whilst working my way down to Cornwall, I was head hunted for a contract in Exeter again within recruitment, as a Client Manager based on site. Again this was to cover a maternity leave, and I could do the job standing on my head. The girl going on maternity leave was power hungry, and extremely demanding, but I knew that I wasn’t working alongside her so it would be absolutely fine. I fitted in really well, managed the Client’s expectations, got on with everyone, implemented new procedures, and D-Day was approaching, she was due back from maternity leave shortly.
Like all of the other roles, when the people I was covering for were away on maternity leave, their colleagues would moan about them, and tell me how much of a better job I was doing. They were always happy with my work, and with any improvements I made to their systems, and at no point did I receive any feedback other than positive. The girl returned from mat leave, hated everything I had put in place, and turned into a malicious bully, it lasted a few weeks, and then I was summoned to a local Pub (how very professional). I knew exactly what was coming, and the Area Manager was a complete dick. He sat there and told me that my contract was over, and that my security card for access to the building was being cancelled as we spoke. This was something I found highly amusing, this was recruitment, not MI5.
It’s Not You, It’s Them
The point of these stories…none of the above was anything to do with me, and it has taken a long time for me to realise this. All of these women / girls felt threatened around me. Threatened due to my knowledge, threatened that their boss would prefer my work to theirs, threatened that their job may be at risk with me around. In all of these situations, I worked my backside off, I remained professional, and I let my work show off my skills. What a shame that all of these people instead of lifting others, preferred to put others down.
Horrible bosses…yes, I’ve had them too, it’s part of life, but never did I give them the power to alter my course in life.
PS – This was just Exeter, I will save the other couple for another time ; )