We’ve all had them. The type of boss who makes you dread the thought of Monday morning so much that you ‘throw a sickie’, or who may even put you under so much pressure that it causes you to be signed-off work with stress. I’ve had a few bad bosses in my time in various sales jobs, from the door-knocking ‘front line’ to office-based and corporate, there has been no escape from the fools.
The commission-only, arse end of sales is, as you can imagine, full of stereotypical dodgy salesmen. Fast talking and creative with the truth, they are impulsive and spend money as fast as they make it, and are so self-centred and focussed on their pursuit of top dollar, that they are the worst managers imaginable should their good sales performance lead to a misguided promotion. Paranoia is always a background influence in the dog-eat-dog sales environment.
I once had a knock on the door early one Saturday morning to be confronted with a dishevelled looking MD who had come to collect the paperwork for my deals from the day before. He’d somehow convinced himself that I was hoarding my business to take to another company. He gave the appearance of a man on the verge of a breakdown. Faced with such a pathetic sight, I incredulously told him in no uncertain terms that he couldn’t bully me on my own doorstep with no good reason. I would see him, with my deals, on Monday morning. Ironically, this bizarre encounter did actually cause me to leave the company shortly after, with raging doubts about the long term future of the business.
Once I had moved to what I perceived to be the more secure environment of office-based advertising sales, I found an altogether different boss from hell. One who was obsessed with internal meetings and unecessary admin tasks. A prime example of this beast I used to refer to as Andy From the 80s, due to his excruciatingly bad power posture body language and cheesey motivational speeches from a bygone
error era. He had a delusional belief that he was a man of the people when, in reality, no-one liked him. When we made sales, he would bound over to give us a bear-hug. In his beloved one-to-one meetings, he would sit too close with one foot propped up on a chair, leaving the team member face to balls, not knowing where to look. You don’t sit in front of someone, especially a girl, with your legs apart Andy From the 80s, you muppet. Put them away. No-one needs to see that. Andy From the 80s once told us to sell pages of a magazine that were supposed to be editorial pages, despite the content having already been planned. How to make friends and influence people!
My next job working for a contract publisher was hardly an improvement. My new boss was a ‘princess’ type who spent most of her time going out for lunch with her media buddies and left me to try to work out what I was supposed to be doing. She gave me some contacts to chase, but they ignored me. It turned out that those same contacts were the people with whom she was going to lunch! Duh, thanks for the invite Princess.
More recently my boss was a hard drinking, heavy smoker who made no secret of his weekend drug intake. Such a lifestyle inevitably led to some weary days in the office, with a mood like a bear that had been woken mid-hibernation. What a shining example to his team! Upon being asked what rates to charge, this manager thought for a moment, before saying: “Think of a number and double it!” triumphantly laughing at his own wit. Thanks for your guidance.
As I spend my last few months in a sales role, I hope that such extreme examples of bad bosses may be a thing of the past as I seek to change career path. But I wouldn’t be surprised if another boss from hell is lurking sometime in the future.