[Blog 32] Thinking Out Loud: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility… Or Is It?

It’s rare to get through one’s career without having to encounter a not-so-inspiring toxic boss who contaminates the workplace. Truth be told, bad bosses do not only exist in movies; they are a reality. Unfortunately, many tend to fly under the radar because employees tend to have the habit of avoiding confrontation. This fear probably stems from a skewed culture which pretty much dictates that we need to give in to our supposed superiors. However, if not taken seriously, bad bosses can bring about detrimental productivity and emotional impacts on an employee.

One of many profoundly repulsive personalities is the boss who is fond of taking advantage of you and wants you to run personal errands for their own needs (especially when you are abroad). This boss does not care if you are keeping your shoulder to the wheel, or if you require some down time amid your busy work schedule. All that he has eyes for are the hairy crabs you’ll lug home from Shanghai (maximum weight please!), the trolley load of tailored bespoke suits from his preferred tailor in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, pet supplies from that specific mall in Shenzhen for his pack of six dogs, or even antique Patek Philippe watches that you have to hunt for at a dodgy Russian market in Phnom Penh. Some go even further to hang your life on the line by using you a drug mule. Yes, perhaps you have your boss to thank for “rewarding” you with an overseas assignment but remember managers don’t always play by the same rules. If you agree to one time, it will make it more difficult to decline the second time.

And then we have the whirlwinds—bosses who are simply terrible with keeping to scheduled meeting timings. Simply put, they are never on time. These bosses will schedule a meeting with you and make you wait, only to have it cancelled at the last minute. This basically means your time on stand-by has gone to waste when it could have used to be productive or attend to other pressing matters. The results can be chaotic, but they don’t seem to have any qualms about not fulfilling their end of the commitment, at the expense of making others at their beck and call, as if the world revolves around them alone.

Do not let bad bosses be the barriers to your aspirations and full potential. Review your options and act. Know your rights, seek support and corroboration, challenge with caution and stand your ground. Once you’ve made your decision, don’t cave later. However, for all their flaws and shortcomings, perhaps it is wiser to gather enough courage to resolve the problem and reason with your boss and reach a common ground before you begin to strategise your exit plan. Remember you may not be able to control your bosses behaviour but you can control how you respond.

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