Wednesday, December 15, 2010

WorkPlace 101: The Heckling Boss.

I've been blessed with the fortune of pretty reasonable bosses for most of my professional life. I don't say that because my current boss is a sometime-y reader of this blog, I say this because it's true. With all the other difficulties that come along with my line of business (yeah, right), it's nice to know that having spme jerkwad giving me orders isn't one of them.

Sadly, that's not the case for everyone. Study after study has indicated that for most employees, their relationship with their direct manager is the biggest issue when assessing workplace happiness. Yes, even more so than money or nature of the work itself. In short, if your boss is a jackass, you'll prolly be miserable.

I'm sure LA Clippers guard Baron Davis can concur with this sentiment.
It’s not uncommon to hear Los Angeles Clippers fans heckle Baron Davis. Of late, however, the jeers directed at the team’s struggling point guard are coming from a far more surprising source: The man paying Davis, Clippers owner Donald Sterling.

Sterling has expressed his displeasure about Davis’ play by taunting him from his court side seat at Clippers’ home games, several sources told Yahoo! Sports. Among Sterling’s verbal barbs:

– “Why are you in the game?”

– “Why did you take that shot?”

– “You’re out of shape!”

While Sterling has also taunted other Clippers players since the middle of last season, none have received it worse than Davis, the sources said. Davis has missed 14 of the team’s 25 games this season and is averaging 7.4 points while making a team-high $13 million. Including this season, Davis has three years and nearly $42 million left on his contract.

“There’s nothing I can say,” Davis said of Sterling’s taunts. “I have no comment on that. You just get to this point where it’s a fight every day. It’s a fight. You’re fighting unnecessary battles. I’m fighting unnecessary battles.

While Davis wouldn’t confirm Sterling’s criticism, those close to the point guard said it’s taking a strong toll on him. One member of the organization who wished to remain anonymous expressed disappointment in Sterling’s lack of support for Davis and the players.

Sources said Sterling is upset with Davis for not living up to the five-year, $65 million contract he signed with the Clippers in the summer of 2008. Clippers center Chris Kaman and former Clippers Bobby Brown and Mardy Collins have also been berated by Sterling during games, a source said. The players typically heard Sterling during free throws or when they were within earshot during a stoppage in play.

While taunting players during games is somewhat new for Sterling, the owner has previously criticized his team. Two seasons ago, he made a rare visit to the locker room and launched into a tirade, calling former Clippers forward Al Thornton(notes) selfish. Sterling also said during the much-publicized incident that he was willing to trade every player on the team.
The blame sorta goes both ways here. Davis did indeed sign a mammoth contract to join the Clippers a few years back, and he's been chronically out of shape ever since. The rare pro basketball player with the physique of a 50-year old gubb'ment worker, Davis has been susceptible to injury as a result, and the team has underachieved. His massive contract and deplorable conditioning have lead to to huge falloff in his own level of play, and he couldn't be traded for an equally toxic contract like Gilbert Arenas' a bag of Funyuns.

Still, if you're the owner of a team, it only makes sense to protect your investment. By heckling (arguably) his best, and (definitely) highest paid player, Sterling sure isn't helping matters. Then again, he's always been known as a total jerkwad, the kind of owner players only sign with when there's no other option. The Clippers are the biggest running joke in pro sports, and it's no wonder Sterling's years of mismanagement and tightwad spending habits have made the franchise a perennial loser.

I wonder how different this is from the typical worker/manager dynamic in most workplaces. Again, I can't relate because my boss is pretty cool, but if your boss is the type to loudmouth workers in front of others, shame and ridicule employees, and generally be a well-paid douchebag, I wonder what the residual effect is. Do you work hard just on GP (and because there's a paycheck), or does this sort of misery make you look elsewhere, even in a down economy?

Question: Have you ever had a boss who's a total jerk? How do you handle such people? Do you work hard just to get that check, or does the tyranny of working for people like this drive you elsewhere?

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