Monday, July 16, 2007

Rate Your Boss

I once had a job where the boss was so toxic that I would feel my stomach start to roil as I entered the building where I worked. I couldn’t focus on anything that gave me pleasure – in the middle of a movie I would think about this boss and feel great anger. When I was having dinner with a friend I would think about my boss and feel so depressed I didn’t want to eat.

The job lasted 1 ½ years before I managed to get another one. By the time I left, I felt I had aged 20 years. I never laughed anymore, the joy had gone out of something I had always loved to do – write.

I remember after I turned in my resignation, my boss began interviewing people to replace me. One day, I stopped a job candidate outside the office and said, “Look, I don’t know you, but I feel I have to warn you. You don’t want to work here. The boss is really toxic – she does everything she can to demean people, and will never recognize or reward you for your contributions. We’ve had enormous turnover here, and the reason is because people are treated like dirt.”

The woman look at me and said, “Oh, I appreciate you telling me. But I think I can handle it.”

It was like watching someone jump in a shark tank and say, “Oh, I can survive just fine. It’s just YOU they didn’t like.”

I don’t know whatever happened to this woman, if she got the job or if she survived that boss. I just know that I wish someone had filled me in on the boss.

And that brings us to Asher Adelman, 33, a Californian currently living in Israel and founder of www.ebosswatch.com, which allows people to anonymously name their boss and then rate his or her performance based on a set number of questions. The overall rating is then available – for a fee – to users who want to check out a boss.

I recently asked Adelman, a former sales and marketing guy, a few questions about his Web site:

1. Am I to assume that you had an abusive boss sometime in your life?Is that who inspired you to set up this Web site?

The inspiration for eBossWatch was born out of a painful personal experience
several years ago working under what some former colleagues called "a reign
of terror" perpetuated by the company CEO. The frequent and ongoing abuses
consisted of loud and public humiliations of employees, name-calling laced
with vulgarity and the throwing of objects at employees. Before I started
working there, I had no idea about the true state of the work environment,
and I firmly believed that this was a respectable company that treated its
employees well. I was ultimately fired in less than two months after
confronting the CEO and complaining about his abusive behavior.

2. What's the purpose of the site? Who is it aimed at, specifically?
The mission of eBossWatch is to improve the lives of people by helping them
avoid hostile workplaces and abusive bosses. I see eBossWatch as being a
useful tool for any job applicant to have during their interview process to
help them evaluate the prospective employers. The applicants shouldn't be
the only ones being evaluated during the recruiting process.

3. What about the criticism that it's not really fair to "rate" a boss
like this...that anyone with a beef can give a boss a bad rating,without giving the boss a chance to respond?Is it really fair?


The idea behind eBossWatch is to use the ratings as a resource to spot any
warning signs about a potential employer so that the job candidate know to
do some additional due diligence into the work environment. If someone
seeking revenge gives a boss a bad (but inaccurate) rating, then the truth
will come out when the job candidate inquires further about the negative
rating or speaks with some current or former employees to find out what kind
of manager this person is.

The "Boss Report" survey results show both the combined evaluation score
averages as well as each individual rating by itself.

4. Do you think anyone will report "good" bosses,or is it much more likely this site will target only the bad bosses we hear so much about?

A significant amount of the evaluations that have been submitted have been
positive, so apparently the people lucky enough to be working for an
excellent boss recognize how fortunate they are and are interested in
showing their appreciation and support for their manager.

5. What's your goal for this Web site?

Our goal for eBossWatch is to make a difference in people's quality of life
by helping to spare them from the nightmare of working for an abusive boss.
Life is short, and it's unfortunate that so many people are stuck in hostile
work environments for months or even years.

4 comments:

Scot Herrick said...

Given that people change jobs -- and companies -- so often now, rating managers is a good idea as they move as often as cubicle warriors move.

It will be tough to maintain ratings over years; I know I would hate to be evaluated now on how I was as a manager five years ago. I'd like to think I've gotten better(!).

Anita said...

I think that's a good point. I often think of political candidates and what it must be like to have what they did in their youth scrutinized. I certainly would not want to be judged for what I did at 20! I think we're all works in progress, and that's true for managers as well.

Chew said...

Well, I was a victim two years ago and finally there is a forum available to get a sober word out on these individuals. Is it foolproof? Only in a perfect world, so I wouldn't lose much sleep on whether or not a marginal proportion of bosses are getting a fair shake on ebosswatch. First and foremost, bosses always have the upper hand and at this present time there is no legal recourse for most victims of workplace bullying, and as such, this site can only be an invaluable tool in preventing future victims. In most cases, managerial bullies (the terminology "bad bosses" is too sugary) are like chameleons. Painting themselves as caring individuals, and even going as far as “playing” the victim at the hands of some “bad” employee, they will wield their power on a whim. Unlike truly caring people, bullies study their prospects and home in on their “target” with the intent to do injury. Do they work alone? Sometimes. But more times than not, they recruit (called mobbing). Furthermore, there is a big deception out there that thrives on the belief that bullying only happens to the “weak” or the “defective”. Research shows, that most targets of workplace bullying are individuals who hold high ethical standards with the aim to live by them, which is probably why they are targeted. So if one particular profile is predisposed to “gaming” the system… that’s right, you guessed it. And believe me, if after discovery they’re still bent on spreading their misery, all they have to do is vote themselves in a better light and inducing their cohorts accordingly, hence, rendering this site only as the next best thing to passing the Healthy Workplace Bill. This brings me to my next point. Ignorance as to what constitutes abuse of power in no way condones it, and indifference to it when within one's realm of influence, does not exempt culpability. I encourage all to get educated, get real, and help fight for the Healthy Workplace Bill. In the meantime, all we have as victims in preventing future victims is ebosswatch.

Anita said...

I'd like to add some recent information.
1.eBossWatch has just launched a
"jerk-free" job site (www.jerkfreejobs.com). Companies wanting to post jobs
on the site "will need to be verified as great workplaces by eBossWatch," a press release says.
2. For more information on the Healthy Workplace Bill, go to www.bullybusters.org/advocacy/bill.html. At Bully Busters you can also get more information on dealing with bullies at work, which has also been addressed on this blog...check out the April archives called "The Bully at Work".