Sunday, 7 October 2012

Unpopular bosses

A lot of people - both men and women - complain about female bosses and female workmates. Supposedly they can be harder to work with than men - tougher and less forgiving. Strangely enough, I've never found that myself.

I've worked with plenty of women, both as bosses and workmates, and I've never had any problems with them. The bosses in particular were very easy to get on with and even a joy to work for. I've had much worse male bosses - bullies, dimwits, nit-pickers, egotists, neurotics, penny-pinchers, you name it. Bosses I was glad to get shot of. So I'm baffled by all these complaints. Am I just lucky or what?

Maybe I'm generous towards women, I give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe the women indulged me because I was a bloke. Maybe I was happy to do what they asked me without too much fuss. Maybe I thought they had better ideas than the guys. Whatever the reason, there was never any serious friction. So what is this antipathy others keep referring to?

Is a lot of it just sexism? Are there still hordes of men out there who resent women having high-powered jobs and telling them what to do? Do women themselves secretly think women bosses aren't up to the job and a man would do it better? Is it that old cliché that women have to do the job twice as well as a man just to be seen as competent?

All I can say is, thanks to Kate, Iris, Sheila, Ulli, Ruth and all the other female bosses I've had. I enjoyed working with you and I'd be very happy to work with you again. No hard feelings whatever. No grudges, no rancour, no unfinished business. What's the big deal?

21 comments:

Liz said...

A boss is a boss and there are good and bad of both sexes I'd have thought. My last boss was female but what confused the issue is that she was/is a friend too. Although sometimes I came close to wishing she weren't! Friends and bosses don't mix.

Grannymar said...

I agree with Liz, There are good and bad bosses of both sexes. Fortunately I have been treated with respect throughout my working life. Only once was I asked to work with a 'Lady' who was known to rant and roar at staff in front of everyone. I made it clear to her that I knew of her reputation and would walk and report her the first time she raised her voice to me. She never did!

Wisewebwoman said...

The old adage comes to mind, Nick:

"Women have to work twice as hard to be considered half as good."

I never reported to a female boss but was a boss for decades and decades.

And one of the best compliments I ever had was a payroll clerk who used to work for me and who subsequently called me from his new position to tell me there was an opening for a new boss and he recommended me to the president.

I wouldn't delineate by gender at all. BUT I do think staff will take far, far more from a male boss than they do a female. "Ah, he doesn't mean it". "Ah, he's having a bad day." "Ah he's under a bit of stress and pressure."

Women are allowed far less leeway.

XO
WWW

Nick said...

Liz: I've seen people who are both bosses and friends and it's worked just fine. But it takes a great deal of care and sensitivity.

Grannymar: Good for you threatening to report her if she raised her voice to you. A splendid bit of assertiveness.

Nick said...

www: There's a lot of truth in the old adage. And yes, I've heard some of those excuses for badly behaving males.

kylie said...

the two worst bosses i have had were women and they were horrendous but i dont think that makes all women bosses horrible

Nick said...

Kylie: No, I guess you were just unlucky. Hopefully your next woman boss will be totally different.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I have had good make and female bosses and bad make and female bosses. My current boss is female and she's just impossible and.. of, wait, that would be me.

Anyway, I do think that for some (not all!) people there is an entrenched idea that men should be the bosses and those people tend to view any assertiveness on the woman's part as bitchiness. Strong women scare the bejeebers out of the weak.

Secret Agent Woman said...

Ahem. Male, not make. I'm not much of a typist.

Bijoux said...

I've had bad both. The males were sexually inappropriate which trumps female bitchiness on the horrid boss scale!

Nick said...

Agent: I've heard your current boss is totally perfect in every way, lol.

You're right that strong women are scary to weak men (and weak women maybe). Too bad, buster, women are grabbing their rightful place in the world!

Bijoux: Ah yes, being sexually inappropriate is a lot harder to deal with than a bit of bitchiness, I imagine.

Scarlet Blue said...

I was an impossible employee for who ever I worked... I say this, and it is true... but I was also poached once... so I can't be all bad.

Sx

Nick said...

Scarlet: Were you really impossible or were you just asking those awkward questions bosses don't like to hear? Very impressed that you were poached. Nobody's ever poached me, though one or two bosses offered me my old job back.

Rummuser said...

I have never had a woman boss. Not unusual in India of those days though it is different now. I have had my share of horrible bosses but mostly good ones and just drifted through without too much difficulty.

This morning I had an occasion to visit my bank to attend to some matters and had to be dealt with by the branch manager who was a lady. She had to summon a few assistants and I was quite impressed with the way she handled them and me. She could teach a thing or two to her male predecessor on wo/man management.

Nick said...

Ramana: Glad you were impressed by the way the woman manager handled the situation - and her staff. And glad you found her an improvement on the previous male manager. I always find the women staff in my local banks more friendly than the men I must say.

Liz said...

I think it was the sensitivity - on both sides - that was missing in my case, nick.

Nick said...

Liz: That's a shame. As I said, sometimes I think the boss/friend combination can work very well.

Jenny Woolf said...

I wonder if we are just getting to the stage now when many women consider themselves absolutely normal if they are a boss.

I think the issue might arise when you get to the "top" level, the ones who have to be ruthless. I don't really like generalising, because at that level it is up to the sort of person the individual is. But I get the impression that women are a bit less ruthless than men, and, perhaps, really are more unforgiving. Still a generalisation, though!

Nick said...

Jenny: You reckon women are less ruthless but more unforgiving? Interesting. I think I'd go along with that sweeping generalisation!

Dicky Carter said...

I have had a female boss for the last 6 months and I'm finding it tough to be honest. The boss before her was a 50 odd year old male, been in the industry since the year dot, liked a drink at lunch times and to roll a fag whilst driving at 90mph in the fast lane. In other words he was fun - she is not.

Nick said...

Dicky: Sounds like you're just unlucky. You have a female boss who takes her work too seriously and there's no room for humour or fun. My last female boss had both qualities. Not sure I would be happy with a boss who rolled a fag at 90 mph though.