Monday, October 8, 2012

And now, a novel about female bosses and why the Transformers should be our management model

Working part-time out of the house a few days a week and doing freelance graphic design during the other days has essentially morphed into another full-time job (ironically, I probably work more hours than I did when I worked at Mulletville Corp). But I'm not complaining. Oooh no.

For the first time in my 20 years of working, I work for someone who isn't evil. Even more shocking, it's a woman.

I haven't had much luck working for women. My first boss was a woman who gave me the silent treatment when I made a mistake; it was up to me to figure out just what that mistake was and how to tiptoe around her until the frost melted. Eventually I quit.

During my second job, I had two female supervisors. They were joined at the hip. One had a crush on a male co-worker who had a crush on me. Both women gave me shit projects and reviews as a result. Eventually I quit.

My third job I worked under a woman who was eight months pregnant. She wanted me to lie on my TPS reports. Yep, quit.

My fourth job, at Mulletville Corp, was one of the most horrific experiences of my life. My boss, Kathleen, had a breakdown on my first day. She made my life miserable for years. (If you want to know more about the traits of bad bosses, she inspired the post). I'd like to say that I quit under her tenure, but I lasted past her retirement and inherited a new female supervisor—one whose secretary would do the irritated sigh for her when I was late or, um, late, or um, even later. 

Yes, I was late a lot, but my new boss was also a mother—to two adults—and had told me from day one that she understood that things come up when you have two young children at home. Her "understanding" lasted a whole three weeks. It quickly became apparent that she expected me to be the kind of working mother she'd been when her children were young: one who comes in early, stays late, offers to work holidays, and answers emails at 11:30 at night.

I wasn't.

She voiced her concern to the Marketing Head. I started hiding my purse and jacket in the car. I dreaded seeing her and her sour expression. Even though I was doing my job well, I started to feel like I was always in the wrong. I apologized constantly.

I was lucky as hell to be able to quit.    

So yes, based on all of my experiences, I find female bosses to be catty, manipulative, insecure, irrational, emotional, abusive, and bitchy. I'd almost given up on women, in fact—until I took my new job.

My new boss gets it. And here's how:

A few weeks ago, I needed to work from home. I emailed her and asked if she'd mind. After I hit send, panic set in. The internal voices started up. She thinks I'm a slacker. She doesn't think I can handle working and homelife. She hates me. She wants to fire me. And so on. Then, an email from her, saying it was fine. She trusted me to get my work done. She was glad to have me on her team.

After I relayed all this to Chuck—he was riveted—he quickly put it into perspective: "Wow, you're really fucked up because of your old bosses."

He's absolutely right. This is the first woman for whom I've worked in close to 20 years who has given me genuine, positive feedback. I actually need to train my mind to understand that she's not out to sabotage me.

Her effective management makes me want to do a better job. 

The funny thing is, my son is learning this lesson right now from the Transformers.
Optimus Prime, leader of the nicey nice Autobots, always praises his team; in turn, they want to serve him. Meanwhile, Megatron, leader of the evil Decepticons, shats on his underling, Starscream, all the time; in turn, Starscream wants to overthrow him.

I'm not kidding when I say that I watched this episode and thought, "Holy shit, the cartoons covered this when we were children. Children!"

I make a motion that the Transformers be shown in boardrooms. Or at least be worked into the management syllabus in college.

Who's with me?


Patty Woodland said...

Many women are afraid. When you find one who is confident you are lucky. Congratulations.

I always said I was happier as a manager with a team of people smarter than me then with a team of idiots.

Small Town Mommy said...

In my experience, my female bosses have been better than the male bosses. While women can be catty, I have found a lot of men to be incompetent in their jobs. Then they blame it on someone else.

Frogs in my formula said...

I've had ineffective male bosses as well, but in my experience, they don't seem to embody the emotional brutality of the women. There really does need to be more training and support.

Magpie said...

interesting. i had a female boss once who was the absolute best. and another who was such a horror show that i still shudder when i think about her.

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

Why is it our fellow mothers who don't get it? My best boss ever was an elderly grandfather type who loved my kids and the fact that I loved them more than any job. So glad you've found a good spot. Congrats!

That Uncomfortable Itch said...

Why is it our fellow mothers who don't get it? My best boss ever was an elderly grandfather type who loved my kids and the fact that I loved them more than any job. So glad you've found a good spot. Congrats!

Leanne said...

I'm okay with that. I've had both good female and bad female bosses. But the worst EVER was a male. He made me stay-at-home blogger. Yep, that bad. :)

Sparkling said...

I just realized that 3 out of the 4 principals I've worked with have been women. And I don't know what I think about that! One was so easy to deal with. One was completely insane. And one took a page out of each of the other two books and became a monster. So, yeah. The one man? Completely hid in his office and never got to know any of us. That might have been my favorite time working there!

The Kind Of Post — except the part where I don't "kind of" have 3 kids

I've been thinking about going back to work full-time instead of cobbling together my income with 7+ freelance jobs, part-time work...