We’ve probably all had, at various times, good and bad bosses. I certainly have. When they’re good, you totally appreciate them. If they’re bad, you usually just have to suffer.
A critical Comment on a post in this blog a few weeks ago, which accused me of making the post a ‘vehicle for having a pop’ at an ex-boss, got me thinking.
What if I’d actually wanted to take a virtual pop at a boss I’d had in the past, rather than what I’d written in the post, which was merely to explain the context of certain things that had happened? Would ‘taking a pop’ be unethical? Would it be unprofessional (like the person who commented said I was being)? Would it not be the ‘done thing’ – not jolly hockey sticks? Would it be slander? With slander, it is usually a requirement that the claim be false. So, presumably it wouldn’t be slander if the pop were true. Is there an old-boy network you’re not supposed to ‘let down’? Should we all simply forget the past? And if we forget the past, how can we learn from it?
The other thing would be – where on earth would I start? Almost certainly with the massive expense claims for taxi rides to Glasgow airport that I saw a boss make, at a time when we had the lowest book spend per student of any UK university library. That really riled me. Several hundred £s on taxi rides to an airport, at a time when we couldn’t buy enough books for the students! That surely justifies a ‘pop’?
A conversation I once had with a boss went something like this.
Me: “I hear that XXXX [a university librarian at another institution] is retiring. He’s been incredibly conscientious and hard-working. They will certainly miss him.”
Boss: “Yes. He’s rather spoilt it for whoever comes next.”
I was shocked. I thought – what an incredible to-the-manor-born attitude. Is that how it’s all supposed to work? You don’t let the side down by working hard? And everyone has to keep quiet if things go wrong? When there’s a problem, you just keep a stiff upper lip?
And there are many other stories – for example, the boss I once had who was supposedly caught flogging scholarly journals down at Zomba market, for use as fish wrapping.
I decided to ask an unusual source what he thought about taking a pop at the expense of the boss. I asked Fat Mac.
Fat Mac doesn’t often say anything sensible. Sometimes he says things which are amusing, such as “Rodz, when Scotland declares UDI anyone found in the country who understands the rules of cricket will be given a last fag, lined up against the wa’ and shot!” And sometimes he says things which are totally incomprehensible due to the fact that he’s saying them whilst most of his brain cells are fully employed in the difficult task of remaining standing whilst propped up against the bar after ten pints of Guinness.
But if you can catch him when he’s sober…
So, I asked him what he thought, on a rare occurrence before the pubs had opened, when he also didn’t have enough money to go to the offie, and his home brew kit had only been brewing for three days (usually, he manages to wait at least four days before devouring it).
Anyway, his advice was this, “Let it waft away like flatulence in the wind. That’s something you obviously have a lot of experience of, Rodz. By the way, do you think three days is enough for the brew?”
And I thought at the time, what excellent advice.
But then when I got home I thought – wait a minute – that can be interpreted in two ways. 1. ‘Pop’ away and let it it take it’s course. 2. Let it go. Move on.
What do you think? And what do you think, about taking a virtual pop at a boss?
Those times when something really bad has happened at work, and you may have thought about the person responsible: “You useless, overpaid, complete and utter waste of space, incompetent shite.” Do you just forget them?
I line-managed more than a hundred people over the years. What if one of them wanted to take a pop at me? I hope I’d think “If it’s definitely true and accurate, then go for it!”
And what about personal failures and embarrassments? What about the time when I was beginning to come down with malaria, and so wasn’t thinking particularly straight, and I spent half an hour talking to an important visitor about ‘the library suppository’ rather than ‘the library repository’.
I think I’ve just taken a pop at myself