A story about my boss

I want to say that I made this up — I do that sometimes — but this time around, the truth is even stranger than fiction.

My manager is some kind of a psychotic asshole, a byproduct of a system that values seniority over achievement and promotes worker bees into management without either guidance or training. This man has roughly twenty people in his command and his team provides first and second tier technical support to a large swath of public servants. Like me, he works in government, and technology is our collective business. We keep email running and taxes processed — I imagine that most people consider us the gremlins in the machine.

And this singular stranger has brought me more grief than the rest of my entire job combined. I love what I do and yet, based on his behavior alone, I’ve strongly pondered quitting.

Let me give you an example of the kind of banality this man considers the pinnacle of normal. This little spat happened just this morning between him and a fellow co-worker. At some point before I got in, the Boss requested a report detailing the work queues of the entire team — a thirty minute task on the best of days and absolutely hellish to pull when our ticketing system runs slow. Because this was in addition to an already busy day, said co-worker stayed almost an hour late finishing up.

The Boss came in and asked him, “What’re you still doing here?”

In a tired voice, the co-worker replied, “Just finishing up that report you asked me about this morning. About what our work load looks like today.”

“I asked for that?” the Boss queried. “I don’t remember asking for it. Oh well. Thanks, I guess.”

I imagine the poor employee beating his head against a wall as he headed home. This — this happens daily to me and the people I work with, and there’s no shielding any of them from the asshole that is our collective boss.

Not two weeks ago the same manager told me and a person I work with that he felt left out of a project run by his boss, where the manager’s direction to us at the beginning went something like (and yes I quote), “The director wants your input and assistance on this project. Consider any requests from him top priority, and if you run into scheduling issues let me know.” When we did our best not to have those and worked steadily on the project — a knowledge repository for our customers — he grumbled that he felt left out and wanted input. The grumbling came after we’d finished.

“That annoys me,” he said. “I feel like you’re not involving me in your work.”

When a trainer from another team came over to teach us how to use the knowledge tool, he stormed into the training room and demanded to know why he hadn’t been invited. Because you don’t need to do this work, you don’t need training on how to wrestle with this monstrous piece of software turned out to be the wrong answer.

Side note: I still don’t quite understand why someone might want input on a project on which they’re not required to work (or several of them). What is it with this dire need to stick a finger in as many pies as possible. Seriously, the world will go on whether you have your two cents worth of input or not.

Sometimes he has these moments where I swear the man has been replaced with a stunt double. From Hyde to Jekyll in three minutes or less. Usually, the conversation begins with “remind me about” some topic or another. Followed by, “I recall giving you” some contrary instruction that sounds nothing like my notes, my last however many weeks of work, or even reasonable course of action. He had us cancel a notification because it wasn’t being used and then recalled having us use it (and wondered where it had gone).

Recently we went to a meeting whose outcome boiled down to DON’T CHANGE YOUR PROCESS, WE’VE GOT THIS. That, to me, sounded pretty nifty. It meant I wouldn’t have to re-write any playbooks or retrain any technicians. I even thought to myself, phew, bullet dodged. But goodness, no. Instead the Boss decided to change the process anyway — in the most convoluted way possible. Essentially clerical work that took us five minutes to do suddenly became an hour long chore. When questioned about the sudden change of course, the manager merely told us that he agreed with our security team but wanted more measures in place.

Why the fuck do we have a security team, one might wonder, if we don’t trust them to actually do security? The boss never did get back to me on that.

This is my rant about my boss. I remind myself daily, if not hourly, that he is a decent and rational person (as per Crucial Conversations) and that it’s me I should be working on first. Well, today, I am all out of fucks to give. Sorry, ran out by eleven this morning.

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