Sociopathic bosses and you

I got this article in an email message today. It's titled "Our fascination with sociopathic bosses." It sounds kind of severe, but I clicked the link and started reading. According to the article, a sociopathic boss is someone who can be charming when the occasion demands it -- usually with customers, clients or friends -- but who, in the workplace, are domineering, angry and verbally abusive. They publicly humiliate employees and show little tolerance for people who make errors, often firing them on the spot.

It sounds pretty heavy to attach "sociopath" to anything, especially to a person who is supposed to be in charge of other people. Given the definition above, my last boss fits the bill.

I haven't written much about what happened at my last job. I treat it sort of like Fight Club. The boss in question was in charge of a team of employees, and we were rolling along until summer, when the wheels began to wobble. They fell off by the time fall came around. I think I put up with a lot more than usual because we got away with a lot. Don't feel like facing the noise? Sure, take a sick day! We did birthday lunches at nice restaurants and we sort of all did our own thing and as long as the money was flowing the contract was good, he was good with us. If funding was cut or a customer didn't see the need to continue with our work, things got ugly. I witnessed more than one explosion with more than one person on the team. I was never the direct target, but the public humiliation affected everyone at some point. It was hard to receive but almost worse to see someone else get pummeled. We had meetings twice a week and the running joke was that someone would inevitably have a turn in the barrel.

I learned a few things (HR is not your friend, for one). I might revisit the last two years and write a book. I made a few good friends and I got a pay raise. I even picked up some minor software skills. It wasn't all terrible but I'm glad someone showed me the door when it was determined that my "skill set" was no longer required. It was time to go anyway.

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