Bad bosses, lazy Yers, and everything in between

August 21, 2007, 10:14 PM UTC
Fortune

There are so many things I wanted to write about today, that in the interest of time and sanity, I thought we’d do a little round-up…

  • Starting with the Bad Boss Contest by Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO. Among the semifinalists for best bad-boss story, a guy whose boss threw his paperwork in the trash when he was diagnosed with cancer and tried to file for his paid time off (the leading vote-getter), a woman who was victimized for taking a week off after a miscarriage, and my personal pick for worst, a waitress whose boss not only encouraged a customer who stalked her, but even hired the man as a busboy. Sure makes you appreciate the decent bosses you’ve had over the years. (As does Stanley Bing’s collection of crazy bosses and their employees’ crazy stories.) But I’ve been lucky enough to have some awesome bosses. In fact, my only bad experience was a few years back with an extremely passive-aggressive boss who would avoid one-on-one contact — including things like giving his young staff any guidance — at all costs, and then publicly dress down anyone and everyone for not doing things “right.” Clearly, I didn’t last long there, but I felt bad for him; he was coming up on 40 and still wearing a wallet chain and ripped rocker T-shirts to work, so it wasn’t hard to deduce that he had some identity issues to address, never mind a whole lot of anxiety about getting older. And I was pretty glad of the lesson in the long run. As my mom put it: Consider the source, and keep it moving.
  • Speaking of getting older, though, check out Anne Fisher’s column, “From Ivy League to dead-end job,” and all the comments it’s already getting. One of Annie’s recent-grad readers wrote to ask her if, after three months of working in his “first ‘real’ job” doing routine work at a Fortune 500 company and feeling unfulfilled, it would be all right for him to make a move. Annie gave him good advice: Stick it out a while longer, do stellar work regardless, and explore opportunities in other departments. But some readers came down hard — on all that Gen Y entitlement, of course. And I see their point; three months is barely enough to learn people’s names, let alone land your dream project, and entry-level work is rarely stimulating every day. But I think this frustration is a twentysomething thing, not a Gen Y thing. In 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median job tenure for workers ages 25 to 34 was three years, and for those 20 to 24, it was 1.5 years. In 2006, median tenure for 25-to-34’s was 2.9 years, and for 20-to-24’s, it was 1.3 years. Not exactly a shocking drop-off. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to indicate a staggering decline in loyalty or work ethic. But maybe that’s just me…
  • Elsewhere in the Fortune universe, Fortune Small Business ranks America’s best colleges for entrepreneurs, along with some cool extras, including 18 top professors and first-person accounts from nine “aspiring tycoons.”
  • And in closing, a few health notes, because I care about you guys! (And yes, we’re better employees — and better people — when we take care of ourselves. Yada yada.) So from The Wall Street Journal, a look at health insurers targeting young people. And from The New York Times, a welcome proclamation — “That yawn at lunch is perfectly normal” — about handling the post-lunch energy dip, and my favorite, “Lobes of steel,” which for all my fellow science nerds, makes a case for the link between exercise and creating new neurons (i.e., being “brainy”).

And that’s all she wrote. (As if it weren’t that much! ;o) Have your own boss stories? Want to weigh in on Ask Annie readers’ anti-Gen Y sentiments? Worried that your lobes might be more slush than steel? Check out the sites, or post your thoughts here. Have a good one!