12 April 2011

Managing by the Golden Rule

By: Jessica B.

I cannot believe it but an episode of RHONY inspired this post. Yikes, it’s true. But what I saw really shocked me and I had to write about it.

In the premiere episode last week, Pinot Grigio-soaked, deer-in-headlights, Ramona interviewed college grads to work for her “marketing company,” which I put in quotes because I doubt its real validity. Granted, this segment was edited for TV but it was really horrifying to watch, especially¬† because I’ve been involved with interviewing and hiring in my real job (notice, no air quotes.)

What resulted on TV was a really cruel, inappropriate, unprofessional attack on these poor girls. Normally, I don’t feel bad for office staff on reality shows. Mostly because I think they are hired for effect and are the worst kind of people to work in those offices (see Kell on Earth as an example. Maddening.)

Anyhow, Ramona proceeded to condescend, insult and really beat down these poor girls in their interviews. She even went so far as to tell one that the self “package” she presented wasn’t up to her standards, an then proceeded to give her samples of her “skin care line” because the girl had a little facial acne and told her how she should improve her clothing so it was more aligned with what Ramona would want presented from her staff. That poor girl left crying and honestly, I probably would too.

I’ve been in the working world for a long time and if there is one thing I’ve really learned, it’s to manage by the Golden Rule, aka treat others as you would want to be treated. I’ve had some awful, awful bosses, who tried to break me down and crush my self-esteem. Many times, this worked, leaving me in constant tears and anxiety that I would do something wrong and get another tongue lashing. Once, I even had a guy try to¬† beat me down in a JOB INTERVIEW, only to tell HR after he did it as a test to see how I would react. Let’s just say, I told HR I wasn’t interested anymore.

And despite the scars these women and men have left, I am not that person to the people I manage. Why? Because it’s not productive and it certainly doesn’t help them. Sure, sometimes I have to be firm and have tough talks but I would NEVER berate them or insult them in order to make myself feel better or feel more important.

So Ramona, shame on you. I would say that I hope you learn from this situation, but I doubt you will, so I’ll go pour myself a glass of wine and just enjoy the train wreck that will be this upcoming season. Cheers!

What about you? Have you had a really bad boss or interview before?


  1. nic says:

    Well, you already know the intimate details of the terrible interview I had at the ad agency that shall go unnamed. But, what I haven’t really told anyone is how much they made me feel like my whole career experience has been a joke, or how I’ve obsessed about what they said to me ever since. I went for a job interview and they belittled me. It’s sad to admit, but from that point on, I spiralled into a depression that I’m still working my way up from. It’s like it was the tipping point or something. I wish I wouldn’t give them or the experience such power over me, but I did and I continue to fight it off from clouding my whole outlook on myself. So. There you have it.

  2. omg that scene was brutal!!! i felt bad for the girls…part of me thought though- better for someone to tell them, i mean some of what ramona was saying was right- but clearly on television and in a rude snarky way is not the way to do it!!

  3. Nora says:

    Wow. I would like to say I hope these ladies feel some shame watching the show after the fact, but I bet they don’t. I have a manager at my office who is super awful a lot of the time but I continue to treat him with kindness, respect and move on. Does he? No, never. But I refuse to stoop to his level. That’s not my style.

    Good for you for standing your ground and not changing :)

  4. brandy says:

    Dude. I was cringing right along with you. Maybe it’s because as a teen I had skin issue (okay, I’m turning 30 this year and STILL deal with rashy skin or breakouts) but there was something about the way she did it that made me want to reach into my tv and shake her. Or at least ban Turtle time.

  5. I watched that episode and it was horrific. Honestly, I would not stand for that. I wouldn’t even feel bad- I would walk out knowing that it wasn’t the right company for me if I were treated that way in an interview. Sorta related- this guy I met online and I have been texting and he keeps asking for pics. Which, I assume is because I don’t have any full length ones on my profile. I just managed enough courage to send him one and I’m totally ok with how it plays out. If he doesn’t like me because I’m not the ideal weight for him- screw it. Then I know he’s not someone I want to be with. Will I feel bad? No. Just another asshole that can line up behind the other who’ve rejected me and countless other girls because they’re not ‘ideal’. /rant :)

    And I was also a manager, but I was always described as the fun but firm one.

  6. Amanda says:

    I’ve been so blessed in the boss department. I’ve truly never had a bad one, and my current boss? UNFREAKINGBELIEVABLY awesome. Like, famous for being so awesome. I manage our interns (casually now, formally starting at the end of the summer when the Bar Exam is over) and I completely agree with you. I mean, you have to show authority, but you can do that and still be kind and considerate. Constructive criticism and all that jazz. I see managing other people as an opportunity to help them achieve their best (which helps our office too) and I think having that mindset makes my subordinates enjoy working for me, because they know I have their best interests at heart (at least, I hope so!).

  7. Kate says:

    I saw that episode of RHONY and also felt terrible for that girl with the acne that Ramona interviewed. If I remember correctly, it was her first interview out of school. To me, Ramona is one of those types who is so out of touch with reality that she doesn’t know when she’s being a complete bitch. And apparently she doesn’t have anyone in her life to tell her to shut the hell up. I SOOOO wish the acne girl would have come back with some comment about Ramona’s bug eyes. I hate to sink to that level, but come on. Ramona is ridiculous.

  8. Steph T. says:

    Oh girl…the horror stories I could tell you about being berated on the job…in front of peers and inappropriate conversations. Yes I still work for this woman…mostly because I will not let her win. Let’s just say that HR has seen my face more times than they really want to.

  9. Christina says:

    I have been fortunate nt to have the infamous stress interview. I have however have one of this group interviews for a company that sold filtration systems and they were pressuring us to sign on as a sales rep for commission only but the dream could be ours. I walked out of that.

    I have had a few bad bosses, one who was very type A and a workaholic and got upset when I left after 8 hours each day. I had a few who were not cut out to be managers either they were spineless or jut not qualified.

  10. I’ve both worked for a boss like you and one like Ramona, and I can definitely say I’m a more productive and better worker under the one who is fair and kind.

  11. I couldn’t agree with you more. I couldn’t believe she said that the girl was dressed to “midwest.” While I didn’t love her outfit, I certainly would never wear what Ramona suggested (sheath dress, no jacket) to a professional interview. Perhaps I am old fashioned at 30 but in a first interview you wear a suit. I typically wear a black skirt suit, well fitted with a semi bold colored blouse/top underneath and appropriate jewelry based upon the company. Her behavior was absolutely appaling and she is not someone I would ever want to have as a mentor. Unless I am looking for a mentor that teaches me to act like an ass on a routine basis.

  12. A Super Girl says:

    My old boss was good at the berating thing, especially via e-mail. We all know e-mail is a terrible way to communicate and she was the poster child for it. Once, I found myself crying in an office bathroom stall at 10 a.m. and finally realized maybe I’d finally had enough.

    The funny thing is that I actually really liked her as a person. When we had office social functions, I always enjoyed talking to her. And, when I finally moved on a few months back, she threw a wonderful going away dinner for me and is also planning an engagement party for me next month, even though I haven’t worked for her since January.

  13. Erin says:

    Thank goodness I’ve never had a boss like that! I’ve had “bad” bosses but never flat-out mean ones. I always wonder what mean bosses are like in real life or how they act to their families. Do they treat their spouse/friends/children like that??

  14. Lil' Woman says:

    That’s horrible…I haven’t seen that episode yet.

  15. Ginger says:

    Unfortunately, I’ve known a few hiring managers who believe in those stress interviews. It’s sadly not an unknown thing.
    Why do people think that’s a good idea??