Just about everyone gets a bad boss sooner or later.
At my age, I've been through several. My motto has always been, "Just Outlast the Bastard."
For the most part, that mantra has worked pretty well. Executives seem to either rise in the organization or leave. So I just hang on till the obnoxious boss is gone.
I'm lucky now to have one of the good ones. But many years ago I had my most terrible boss ever. The sight of her car in the parking lot was enough to make my heart pound. I persisted for two years, waiting for her to move up or move on, but I began to realize that she expected to take care of me first.
If I made a decision on my own, I should have consulted her. If I consulted her, I didn't have any initiative. If I worked late, I was slow. If I finished early, I was uncommitted. If I laughed, I must be ridiculing her. Okay, she had me on that one.
I'm sure down deep she was a wonderful person. She loved her kids sincerely, for example. I mean, why else would she have had three nannies in two years?
The day it became apparent that I wouldn't outlast her was the day of my annual review. After more than a decade of glowing reviews, by this manager's measurement, I was suddenly substandard in every category. As an executive in a major corporation, I had a fairly large staff, and Bad Boss said that I was a horrible manager.
"You have no management skills at all," she said.
Which actually is true, but I'd been able to conceal that for lots of years, just by hiring smart people and leaving them alone.
So I was willing to suck that up, until she offered me this advice: "You need to be tougher. You need to be more like ME."
Well, it had taken me over 50 years to like myself the way I WAS. I had an overwhelming, uncontrollable urge, that at another time in my life (that is, non-menopausal), I would have been able to suppress. But I said it.
"I don't want to be more like you."
It was an unwise thing to say, not to mention very mean. If I had it to do over again, I wouldn't say it. But since I can't do it over, I might as well be glad I did say it. But that was pretty much the end of my career at that company.
Looking at it now, from a happier place, I can see that lasting two years under miserable conditions was a success in itself.
And so I offer this little secret that helped me get through.
Just hang up.
On Voice Mail, that is.
When you get a voicemail from your Bad Boss, hang up. Slam the phone down. Right in mid-sentence. Cut the idiot off. Then play it again, and do it again. Sometimes I slammed the phone down seven times before I ever made it through to the end of the message.
It felt awesome.
Just make sure you don't do it in real time.
Read more from Nancy at her blog, "Not Quite Old."