A recent column about Employees from Hell brought letters from both bosses and employees, with bosses saying, "Ain't it the truth!" and employees saying, "Why don't you write a column about Bosses from Hell?"
Fair's fair. Here are some of the characteristics shared by the worst bosses in the world:
* They're lazy. "I pay for help," they say, and expect to be waited on -- whether or not this is part of your job description.
* They're control freaks. Bosses from Hell delegate tasks, never responsibility, then hang over your shoulder and criticize and second-guess every step you take.
* They're temperamental and moody. How your day goes depends upon how theirs goes, or how last night went for them, or whether there's a run in their pantyhose, or they've had a fight with their girlfriend.
* They're wimps. Bosses from Hell don't confront, criticize or tell us anything we don't want to hear. They don't have the nerve, for one thing, and they haven't the time, either -- busy as they are sabotaging their employees in sneaky, back-stabbing ways.
* They're possessive -- and what they want to possess most of all (now that they finally have you "trained") is you. Forever. Never mind your needs. Never mind your ambitions. Never mind your future. If it's inconvenient for them to replace you, you can kiss promotions -- or even profitable transfers -- good-bye.
* They don't believe in positive feedback. About as often as a miser hands out the family jewels, these bosses slip their employees a word of praise. When it comes to criticism, on the other hand, they're too, too generous -- and the word "constructive" isn't in their vocabularies.
* They're disorganized. The worst bosses in the world want you to take notes about the thoughts they haven't quite formed, find the material they've lost under the piles of paper they haven't bothered to sort, and stay late to finish the work they weren't organized enough to present earlier.
* They're insecure. Scheduled work slips further and further behind as these bosses dither and change their minds, worry and rethink and go over (and over!) stuff that would get finished, if they'd just let you get on with it.
* They're no good in a crisis -- and everything is a crisis to these disorganized and insecure types. Any sudden change or unforeseen situation causes Bosses from Hell to panic completely, leaving you to deal with the crisis -- and take any blame that may be coming, as well.
How can you survive if you're stuck with one of these nightmare bosses? By reminding yourself (at least once an hour) that when you're a boss, you'll be ahead of the game because you'll have learned everything not to do.
It also helps to remind yourself that if a Boss from Hell is reincarnated, he or she surely will come back as a cockroach.
Questions and comments for Niki Scott should be addressed Working Woman, Features Department, The Sun, Baltimore 21278.