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  1. #1
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    Bosses - who\'d have them?

    As part of my own personal development, I am always trying to improve my own management skills. I have been on enough management courses, don't want any more of those. The best way of improving these skills is to watch and learn from good and bad bosses. So, the question is: Thinking about the best boss you ever had, why was s/he the best? Thinking about the worst boss you ever had, why was s/he the worst?

    Now, I am sure that we all think our current boss is the best in the world, *cough*, *splutter* - but maybe you had others?



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  2. #2
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    The best bosses I've had were INTERESTED in what was going on. They ASKED QUESTIONS and were OPEN TO IDEAS!

    One boss in particular stands out in my mind. She was very nice, was personable and direct. She had an honest interest in what I had to say and my thoughts. She was open to suggestions and would flesh them out with me. Since we chatted about anything, she trusted me 100%. I was never left 'hanging' wondering if there was something else I should have done. Feedback was instant and complete.

    The bad ones were ... well, the opposite! They weren't interested in the daily going-ons of the office. Ideas were not discussed, appreciated or considered. Trust was 0%. The WORST was one that actually had cameras with microphones installed in all of the rooms of the office so he could spy on the staff. We all knew they were there, but can you imagine NEVER being able to discuss anything while you're in the office? It sounds much easier than it is. You could never enjoy your work, he had terrible mood swings and any feedback you ever received would be when it was negative. Needless to say, employee turnover was brutal.

    Since then I have learned to ask "What is your employee turnover rate?" when I'm in an interview. Low turnover rates typically mean happier employees. High turnover rates typically mean unhappy employees. Of course there are exceptions, but it's a rule of thumb that has worked for me for years.

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  3. #3
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?


    The bosses that I like the most are those that think more along the lines of "A manager is only as good as his team." Those are generally the bosses that try to encourage and educate their staff.

    My current boss is neither great or bad. His title is Director of QA, he has no idea what QA is. He lets me run the department as I see fit. His extent of involvement may be something like: Have you tested that? How is the quality of product X? Why do we have so many bugs? He in general finds time for me about 1-2 hours a month therefore I would rate him more on the bad side.

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  4. #4
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    The best boss I ever had made it clear he expected me to perform. Then he told me I was doing a great job about every other week, even after a year or so.

    The worst boss decided to effect discipline within the group by singling out the worst employee and making an example of that person instead of dealing with each person directly. Needless to say, I was only 23 at the time so it was me. I quit soon after he began his "discipline".

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  5. #5
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    Not to pick on digits again...
    "So digits, what is your employee turnover rate?" --- just wanna see if i/we would wanna work for you

    Worst bosses: (had at least 2)
    1. was a former Tech Writer who happen to be promoted in her previous job to take over the QA Manager's position, though she has no knowledge of what QA is all about. In QA meetings, before the real agenda is started, she loves saying these 2 things: A) i'm in this business now for over 18 years and B) if something comes up, say u have to go to the bathroom, and you attempt to leave the meeting room, she'll say "you better not open that door if you still want your job here". If you are given the authority, you probably would send her to Afghanistan in a second.

    2. another one that became a QA Manager by company promotion because he is such a very guy from development (not a very good developer though). He's style of managing people --> he comes to you and say "I want you to spy on so and so (another QA person) and tell me what she/he is doing". Can you believe this guy asking you to spy on people?

    Oops...forgot the Best ones:
    The best bosses are "the ones who care", about what you and the rest of QA are doing and even about what's going on in your personal life.
    And when those down moments are around ('em Layoffs), they are the ones that tell the owners and upper management "Get rid of me first before you get rid of any of my people. They are the working bees/horses in our group.", as exactly said by our current boss during the 3rd round of layoffs in the company.

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    [This message has been edited by Gilbert (edited 11-01-2001).]

  6. #6
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    Ahhhh....now Gilbert is going to get me going on my current manager.....

    I guess we all started somewhere, but I was ramped up over time. It surprises me that people are put in charge of a QA dept. with maybe good product knowledge but not a clue about QA. So I guess somebody I would put on the 'slightly' bad side would be somebody who is learning as they go. I don't expect that from a manager. I look to a manager for professional growth in some ways - advice and knowledge. Having to correct your QA manager on what is and isn't doable, what is and isn't QA, seems odd and makes one worry about being disciplined.

    Oh, and let me mention forgetfulness. I just had to answer an email yesterday from my manager wondering why I hadn't done something for over a week. I had to remind her about the email she sent me saying not to do it. This kind of stuff happens often - it would be normal if it happened once a month or something.

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  7. #7
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    The worst boss (and there are several contenders): the senior technical person who gets promoted to management, but never stops being an engineer. S/He gets involved in all the nuts and bolts aspects of the product development instead of delegating it, and neglects all the people management activities (and generally has little skill at these things). Typically s/he works lots of extra hours, due to trying to do 2 jobs: engineer and manager.

    The best: he was well organized, not afraid to give responsibility to subordinates, was good at giving positive reinforcement when needed (in a natural, sincere manner), and he didn't look to assign blame when there were problems but instead worked with you to find a solution.

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    Charles Reace

    charles{DOT}reace{AT}verizon{DOT}net
    web site | [url=http://www.ebookworm.us/[/url]

    [i]...Sound trumpets! Every trumpet in the host! / Sixty thousand, on these words, sound, so high the mountains sound, and the valleys resound.</i] (The Song of Roland)

  8. #8
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    Peter:

    The fact that you're seeking to improve upon your own skills probably demonstrates in a large way that you are a good boss! (or at least have the qualities and thoughts necessary to be one)

    I think that the two biggest things for me in a 'boss' (though I've not had one, in the technical sense, for a few years) were always a willingness to listen to venting, and then help seek solutions, and a willingness to improve upon themselves and their own ideas. In IT, there are often periods, or even moments, of HUGE frustration - not getting a build until 5pm the night it has to go up, having dev close defects you feel passionately about, etc. Having a boss who is willing to first, listen to you vent.. and vent.. and vent, and then, to offer constructive solutions of how it can be made better in the future, is one who will have employees who appreciate them.

    As others have stated, it's also very important that a boss be willing to question even their own ideas/thoughts - even if they choose to stick with them in the end, just listening makes them a better boss than many.

    And for the record, the worst bosses I've had/come into contact with, have always IMHO, come from a background other than the one they are attempting to manage. (Dev people trying to manage QA, someone from Networking, etc. etc., etc.)

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    Go D'Backs!!!
    Annemarie Martin
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    Association for Software Testing

  9. #9
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    My worst ever boss was someone who was constantly competing with me.
    This was sooo wearying as I most definitely do not compete with my bosses.

    My attitude is that I'm there to help them (serve them?) get the job done. They determine the goals, and I work with them to achieve these goals.


    Having said that, my best boss ever was someone who allowed me to speak my mind. We had the most wonderful arguments, and the rule was that whoever won the logic, usually got their way.

    There was no malice in these arguments, although they did get quite heated. During one episode, one contractor had to resort to bawling "Will you two shut up? I'm trying to work!".
    We stopped, stared at him, smiled at each other, and went back to arguing over a detail of the system we were designing.

    Of course, there were a couple of occasions when he didn't win but still didn't let me have my way. But then, that perogative was his, as he was the one who would ultimately face any flak from the board.

    But on the whole, an eminently reasonable man.

    To Paul, the best boss a person could hope for.

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    [This message has been edited by ManicallyDepressed (edited 11-02-2001).]

  10. #10
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    Re: Bosses - who\'d have them?

    Interesting posts, here, thank-you all.

    A couple of observations from what has been said:
    - No-one said that their boss should be successful and deliver what they should deliver for the company's success
    - Only one hint that people want their bosses to educate them, on-the-job or formally

    From my own experiences, the best boss I ever had was a guy who managed (and still does manage) a very large test group, of about 250 people. He was incredibly successful in making the Test group the most efficient, productive and profitable group in our area of the business. He was hard, expecting a lot of his staff, but he was also fair and rewarded for work well done. He also gave you a good dressing down if you didn't perform to a) your potential and b) to his expectation - and he was well respected for this, especially as he when he did tear strips off you, he would then take you down the pub for a pint and it was all forgotten, never mentioned again, not even at appraisal time. His biggest plus point was that he cared about his people. He wanted them to be happy and worked very hard to make sure that they were. He also made sure that everyone was up to date on latest thinking, industry best practice and technology. I worked for him for two years and everyone I met who did work for him or who had worked for him had enormous respect for him and he inspired a level of loyalty I have never seen before or since. The bottom line as to why he was so good? He had leadership as a natural trait in his character.

    My worst manager was someone who didn't care about his a staff, had favourites who he gave the best jobs to (including his mistress!), gave no feedback, good or bad, and gave no direction. Those of us not 100% in favour felt like we were adrift and didn't know which way to turn. On being tackled about it, he would look surprised and tell how he would make it better, but he never did. On escalating the problem (and I did tell him I was going to do this), I got into a severe row (not productive, I know, but I was p*ssed off by then) and a threatened pay cut.

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