During my four-year stint at a medical laboratory, I had the pleasure of working for a boss who treats his employees in a way that's quite different from what I'm used to. My bitterness has finally worn off enough (I think) for me to write about it.
Tip # 1: While supervising a medical laboratory — or any industry in which you have no formal training — treat the employees who DO have professional training as if they don't know anything.
Boss (to me): Why are you sending this sample to the reference laboratory? We can do here.
Me: We don't do fungal studies* here.
Boss: Yes we do. When I look at the results from other microbiology tests, it says if there are fungi or not.
Me: . . .
Boss: Send it over to microbiology.
Me: Jana said that we do not do fungal studies here.
Boss: I know that we do that test here. Could you please call Jana and tell her to call me?
* A fungal studies test determines specifically what type of fungi (if any) are growing on a sample. The "results" my boss referred to came from a test that looks for bacteria. The technologist might detect fungi during the c&s test, but he or she can't specify what kind it is because the company does not have fungal studies equipment. My boss did not know that despite working there for over 20 years.
Boss: Why are you ordering more reagent*, Phong? We shouldn't need any more of it so soon.
Phong: I need it to run the tests.
Boss: But we shouldn't have run out of it already.
Phong: We've had more samples than usual. It has been very busy.
Boss: But you shouldn't need this much reagent.
* In order to run chemistry tests on blood samples, the machines need reagent. My boss didn't seem to understand that increased samples + using reagent to process the samples = running out of reagent more quickly than usual. He wanted her to magically perform extra work without costing him any extra money in supplies. Keep in mind that he never studied chemistry and never actually learned how to use any of the machines.
Tip #2: Be as condescending as possible when speaking to or about your underlings.
Boss (addressing the laboratory): This isn't a daycare center. You should all know better than to act like that.
Boss (speaking to my coworker about another coworker): That guy is messed up in the head.
Boss: You need to be here by 10 a.m.
Me: Which clock do you want me to go by? Because the times on all the different clocks here are different. Some of them are off by 10 minutes.
Boss: What do you mean by different clocks?? What clocks* are you talking about, Browncoat?
* We're in his office where a computer is right in front of his face with the time on it. The phone on his desk has the time on it. The clock on the wall beside him has a time on it. A few steps down the hall, the punch-in timeclock has the time on it. None of the times match. At this point in the conversation, my coworker spoke up and explained this to him.
Tip #3: Have completely unrealistic expectations for your employees, and never show gratitude for how hard they work.
Boss: You're five minutes late today.
He said this after I had stayed 30 to 60 minutes late every single day that week (which he knew). When we work late, we don't get paid for it. He expects us to make up the time later by coming in late the next day. My boss wanted me to follow his rules while not following his rules.
Boss: You didn't finish two of the stool samples last night. You should have been able to do that.
He says this to every single person who ever does set-up in the micro department. When he said this to me, we had received over 200 samples that day. We would normally only receive around 150. I had nobody helping me. He had also told me that he did not want me staying late. He wanted me to complete extra work with no extra help and without spending any extra time on it.
Tip #4: Tell your employees they're performing poorly when they aren't. When they question you, turn it around on them so they don't realize you're talking out of your ass.
Boss: You've been making more mistakes lately.
Me: What kind of mistakes?
Boss: Data entry mistakes.
Me: Okay, but what kind of data entry mistakes? Missed tests? Incorrect billing? Mistyped fax numbers?
Boss: Well, you should already know what they are.
Me: . . .
Boss: You should have seen the mistakes you're making on the reports that you get.
Me: I haven't seen any recent reports.
Boss: Well, go talk to Deena then and get her to show you the numbers.
My boss pulled this crap with several of my coworkers before doing the same thing with me. Every single one of us checked the paperwork and found that what he'd said wasn't true.
I finally reached my breaking point when he randomly told me one day, "you're taking longer and longer to finish those sendouts." Not a smart thing to say to someone who has been working late all the time because the company is pathetically understaffed. That night, I typed up my letter of resignation. I handed it in two days later on Friday. Curiously, he decided that I was not fit to train the person replacing me. Instead, he had someone who didn't know how to do my job — my workplace enemy, of all people — do all the training. It was a disaster. For the next two weeks, I laughed maniacally inside my head while carefully keeping my face blank. My boss had completely screwed himself over. On my last day, I walked out the door and never looked back.