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armchair centre back :: finding your best boss

everything i know about bosses, i've learned from watching the premier league this year. 

it's been a long time since i posted about my love of football [soccer], possibly because i was traumatised by seeing my darlings swansea city getting mauled week after week, all the while looking like they were playing for the right to choose between being executed by guillotine or firing squad. it's been a very long season. well, half a season. suddenly, however, it doesn't seem so bad. the reason for that is very clear: carlos carvalhal. swansea's new portuguese manager is a breath of fresh air, and a complete switch from the focused and pragmatic paul clement. now, i liked paul clement, and i think that his internship at some of the best clubs in the world made him a real catch. it's just that sometimes you need to find someone who connects with your team, your people, which carlos definitely seems to have done. as the days lengthen and the weather shows some signs of warming, the team that once seemed like a lost cause has bubbled to life.

but this is certainly a year for the weird and unexpected. the way the table stands right now, more points separate manchester city in first and manchester united in second than bournemouth in ninth and west bromwich in twentieth. the six wealthiest teams are battling it out for four champions league spots next year while burley and leicester are looking at each other and shrugging, surprised to be the only two teams doing moderately well. good job, guys.

rather than players, it seems like everything for the last two years has been focused on the managers, which has made me think about the importance of having a great boss, with the right people working for them. there are are lots of opinions on what makes a good manager, but the fact is that different people respond better to certain types of management. so here's a look at some different types of bosses, as embodied by premier league managers.

the professor 


pros :: has forgotten more about your job than you'll ever learn. extremely even-tempered, because he has been through everything. literally nothing you do will unnerve this man, although it may earn you a withering, i-am-so-disappointed-in-you look. puts a big emphasis on doing work the right way [technically and morally], rather than just getting the end result right. may not be setting the world on fire, but has an unparalleled record of consistently good achievements, where others burned themselves out. knows absolutely everything about the company, and likes to talk about it [and nothing else], so you'll learn a lot.

cons :: stubborn as a fucking mule. he's been here longer than you, or any of your coworkers, and likely his bosses, which means he knows better. if he does make changes, he'll get weirdly intransigent about admitting when they're not working. his department comes in under budget every year, because he won't even agree to buy pens without debating it with you. spends at least a week thinking about every decision, including ones that have a two day deadline. and while the emphasis on work being done the right way sounds awesome, it doesn't feel so great when you're spending thirty-six hours preparing a stellar power point presentation on how your department missed all its targets, while thinking about how nice it would have been to get an annual bonus.


the friend

pros :: is still young and open enough to listen to your suggestions, and somehow makes you feel like a star even when he doesn't take them. in fact, he's a good listener all around, which makes it easy to talk to him about everything, work-related or not. always seems sympathetic to you and always has your back to higher-ups [even when he probably shouldn't]. has an uncanny sense for picking out the exact right people to join the team. being in his department is going to be the most harmonious work experience of your life.

cons :: is maybe a little too relaxed, because chances are you all keep coming in second best at anything you try. if something's gone really wrong, the experience of looking at his wounded expression is going to make you want to kill yourself. chances are you've passed up at least one better job offer to stay with him. everyone else in your company resents you, because he's very proud of the fact that you're all just so goddamned happy and will never publicly admit that any of you does anything wrong.


the genius

pros :: able to figure out every problem that's going to occur long before you actually run into it. so brilliant at what he does that you're going to look better just by being in proximity to him. once you get going, your department is probably going to be the best at everything by a country mile. if he's chosen you, you are under his protection for as long as you show you're willing to put in the effort it takes to keep up. never, ever throws his intelligence and skill in your face. speaks six languages, plays three musical instruments, and could debate politics with any leader on earth.

cons :: had your job before he was promoted and no one will ever forget how amazing he was at it. he'll get credit for everything his department does, even though he doesn't mean to be a glory hog. gets impatient with people who can't keep up, and can be thin-skinned when his methods are questioned. prone to being extravagant and wasteful, because he's only vaguely familiar with what a budget is. no one's going to take him to task, because his results are so incredible that they wouldn't dare, but they might be willing to shoot the messenger. you're the messenger.


the rebel leader

pros :: when you are spending much of your days fantasizing about the best ways to dispose of the bodies of idiots in upper management, this is the guy who will take the fight to them on your behalf. he will allow you to air every frustration, voice every criticism, and will take them seriously. has worked at higher profile places than this, and is probably over-qualified for the job he has now. he just likes the place and figures that the bosses will listen to him because he really does know more about how everything works in the rest of the world than they do. he lets you get away with doing less than you should, because there are more important battles to be fought, and he's the one who's going to fight them.

cons :: upper management will never listen to him, period. you're better off coming up with a solid plan to get rid of the bodies.


the charmer

pros :: brings you baked goods and encourages you to have fun with your job. actually does make the job fun, although, magically, stuff keeps getting done, almost without you noticing that you did it. says things that are either silly or brilliant or both, you can never tell. no one is ever angry at him, because he makes it impossible. even though you know his friendliness might be a work, you still fall for it, and gradually it overwhelms your innate pessimism. might seem fey on the surface, but his plans have a way of working very well. there is definitely more going on in his noggin' than it appears on first glance.

cons :: it's possible that he is actually a flake. he doesn't seem to have stayed at any job for more than a year, and even though everyone loves him wherever he's gone, his ability to produce results has been decidedly uneven. you might get fat from the baked goods.

the rock star 

pros :: makes a roller coaster seem as thrilling as an economics exam. his energy and relentless positivity are infectious, and no one under his watch is immune. no matter how busy he is, he will take the time to focus on every individual person and get them excited about what they're doing. makes you think that you're the one coming up with the great ideas, even though you you're really just reflecting back what he's giving you. it doesn't even matter what you're working on, though, because you're really just working for him. your career plans for the next five years involve being wherever he is.

cons :: you never realised this level of exhaustion was possible. people from every other area of the company sigh about how working for your boss must be the best thing in the world, and, while most of the time you'd agree, you sort of miss having a life. no one has more spectacular successes than your group, but you'll also have some pretty memorable failures. this person's attention becomes addictive, so when you see more of it being lavished on others, you might find yourself turning into glenn close in fatal attraction.


the psychopath

pros :: another very high energy individual and one of the hardest workers you'll ever meet. asks a lot, but is every bit as dedicated as you, probably more. working as hard as you will for him, you're going to get better at what you do than you ever thought possible. you'll be cramming three years of progress into three month cycles. every success is the super bowl. every failure is a disaster, but at least you'll be very clear on how everything went wrong, so you'll know how to avoid it next time. no matter how blasé you start out, this person is going to make you driven.

cons :: being terrified all the time is not good for your health. as much as you feel like king kong on cocaine when you do something right, you'll spend most days wearing adult diapers for when you piss yourself in fear. no one should be this intense. exhibits some signs of bipolar disorder, because as wild and pumped and energetic as he is a lot of the time, he'll also go through extended periods where he's depressed and disinterested and seems to want to get himself and the rest of you fired. will probably punch you at some point, either in anger or elation. 


the taskmaster 

pros :: you will never, ever wonder what's expected of you. this guy will tell you exactly what to do and exactly how to do it, and you just need to execute without asking any questions. ruthlessly pragmatic, but extremely effective, which likely means you'll be earning mad money. every second you spend in the office will be spent working, but chances are that you'll be able to stand up at a reasonable hour and go home [or run to the bathroom]. if you want to learn how to be successful at things, there is no better teacher, because being number one is the only thing that matters here. more than one of his protegés has gone on to better things, and they can't stop expressing how grateful they are.

cons :: the ones who moved on are the ones who survived. fail to keep your head down and do as you're told and you're going to end up in a ditch somewhere. this person could not care if you live or die. he knows what it takes to be successful and no one should make any suggestion that there's room for improvement. everything works within a template he's designed, which means that everyone can be replaced. no one in this department has smiled in ten years.

you might be the kind of person who could flourish under anyone of these people. the trick is figuring out which one is best suited to you, and then finding them. too bad there's no tinder for employers/ employees. 


as long as you're here, why not read more?


i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:

am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

digging for [audio] treasure

my computer tells me that i need to cut down the amount of music stored on my overstuffed hard drive. my ears tell me that that would deprive me of some wonderful listening experiences. 
halifax, nova scotia was not the easiest place to find out about music with limited appeal. it was a very music-centred city, to be sure, but, being smaller, things like noise, industrial, and experimental music struggled to gain a foothold, even as the alternative rock scene exploded in the early nineties. i was lucky enough to have some friends who were happy to share music that they loved, but i knew that there were lots of things that i was missing out on.

with the dawn of the internet, and various types of music sharing, i found myself able to discover bands that i'd heard about, but never managed to track down, from the days of underground cassette culture. and, to my surprise and elation, many of them do very much live up to what i'd imagined from reading descriptions of them in catalo…