7 blowhard bosses bottle up the tech works

As if working in tech isn't hard enough, these bosses block every avenue to success

I survived a blowhard boss
Ben Barbante

I survived a blowhard boss

If you've ever reported to a blowhard boss, you know how they sap the staff's morale and chip at the company's bottom line. It's an ongoing mystery why so many of them are put into positions of power in the first place.

Odds are you'll work under a blowhard boss at some point in your career, but at least you're not alone. Here are seven stories written by anonymous IT pros who've lived to tell the tale.

If we publish your IT story in the InfoWorld Off the Record blog, we'll keep you anonymous -- and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque.

I know tech because I say so
Ben Barbante

The know-it-all, know-nothing boss

This self-proclaimed tech expert thinks far too highly of his own skills and can't stay out of his workers' hair. At one site installation, the boss hovers over, second-guesses, and eventually dismisses the tech to take on the job himself, only to call back a couple of hours later when his skills fall short.

Still oblivious, the know-nothing boss can't recognize his own description in a customer complaint. Before long, his incompetence catches up with him and business dries up. At least the workers were able to move on and find other jobs.

How else can I control your life?
Ben Barbante

How else can I control your life?

You don't typically brag about working at a job for only three months -- unless you're reporting to a boss who drives others away in just a few weeks. But who would stay under a boss who demands the use of templates that don't exist, forbids workers from reporting for jury duty, botches a government assignment, and doesn't support employee training? She gives unsolicited parenting advice too!

Worst of all, there's nowhere to turn for help: The departments operate in silos, and HR refuses to make a move. It's no wonder turnover is so high.

All hail the IT hero
Ben Barbante

All hail the IT hero

A CEO tells the new IT pro that he knows all about tech and to come to him with any questions (uh-oh). The tech's first task: Figure out why the server keeps crashing. Easy enough -- a crowded, unventilated server room is to blame. But the CEO takes only half measures to fix the issue and falls prey to a conniving consultant's plan along the way.

Fast-forward several months: The CEO decides he wants to be seen as a tech visionary and orders a data center to be built, no expenses spared. Never mind that most of the equipment goes unused -- at least he can show off to his peers. The spending continues until the board catches on and fires him. What took them so long?

Look but don’t touch
Ben Barbante

Look but don’t touch

When a company acquires a division located on another continent, the Head Honcho insists on getting every cent out of the deal, including retaining an outsourcer's services for the contracted 24 months. But reality sets in when a VPN problem arises, and the outsourcer can't fix it. The domestic team scrambles to find a solution, begging to take control of the site and make the repairs themselves. Still, the Head Honcho refuses. After days going back and forth, they finally figure out a functioning work-around.

Months later, the contract expires, and the tech implements his initial fix. Voila, it works -- and could've spared everyone the hassle all along.

Don't even think about going anywhere
Ben Barbante

Don't even think about going anywhere

One boss makes life a living hell for the employees, particularly where it hurt them the most: the paycheck. This bloviating boss revised vacation pay, announced surprise pay cuts, docked employees for their mistakes, revised the pay schedule, and required last-minute overtime. At the same time, he made extravagant purchases and offered fraudulent loans.

Not surprisingly, the employees looked for other jobs and started contacting government offices about the boss's shady dealings. The law soon came calling, and the business closed -- thanks to the workers' awareness and diligence.

He who talks first talks worst
Ben Barbante

He who talks first talks worst

Then there's the CIO who covers his inexperience with the temper of a Tasmanian devil and the tact of a drill sergeant, pushing his plans through regardless of outside advice. Take his great plan to save loads of money and move all the company's apps to the cloud, though they'd been operating under budget for years, and the current system was working just fine.

But The Boss had spoken and moved forward, choosing a third-rate cloud provider and refusing to allow corresponding server and Internet upgrades. It was no surprise -- to the techs at least -- when sales and billing productivity slowed to a crawl. After only a week, the top execs order that everything be moved back ASAP. (Gladly.)

Do these servers bring out my eyes?
Ben Barbante

Do these servers bring out my eyes?

The new admin's skill set? Apparently, lots of talk, few skills, and a desire to make himself look good at any costs, not to mention a tendency to dismiss and demean anyone who questioned him.

When the request comes in to build a Very Import Server for Very Important People, the boss wants to prove he's more than a bag of hot air. He takes on the assignment of building the system ... in the middle of the shared office space, so everyone can look upon his tech expertise. His plans are foiled when he can't figure out an error message -- and insults the tech who tries to help.

The boss pays the vendor for the exact same solution, but it takes several more similar incidents before he's fired a year later -- some justice.

Tell your tech story
Diane Macdonald

Tell your tech story

Share your own crazy-but-true tale about managing IT, developing apps, supporting users, a humbling moment, or a time when something went very right. Send your submission to offtherecord@infoworld.com. If we publish it  -- anonymously, of course -- you'll receive a $50 American Express gift cheque.

More IT stories on InfoWorld:
Stupid user tricks: The most embarrassing flubs yet
IT tells all: A year of missteps, miscues, and micromanagers
Tech's lighter side: America's funniest IT blunders
Off the Record blog of tech stories