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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

Like a majority of people, I have worked for some amazing managers, some average managers, and some horrible managers. My manager at my marketing internship is the best manager I’ve had. My manager at my old cashier job at a frozen yogurt shop was decently average. My manager (technically the assistant, but acting store manager) at my most recent job has to be the worst manager I’ve had.

Sometimes, being a bad manager doesn’t just mean that you don’t do the job of managing. It doesn’t even necessarily mean that you don’t tell people what they are doing wrong or not commend you for doing things right. It might just be that, that person is just selfishly mean. I’m not saying that my previous manager (I’ll use the name Kim to protect privacy) was the meanest person ever. I’m just pointing out that she wasn’t very nice. She seemed to play favorites and not treat people equally even if we were doing equal work.

Spoiler alert: I quit that job back in November. Though I’m a college student who obviously wants spending money, no amount of money is worth that type of treatment. It was not worth the days I would come home and call my mom because work was horrible or the mornings I would wake up and dread going to work. 

With all of this being said, I definitely learned a lot of unexpected life lessons from bad management.

The first important lesson I learned is that having the manager title doesn’t necessarily make a person qualified for the job, and neither does an education. My manager was a retired registered nurse who started working in retail because she was bored of retirement. Obviously, nurses don’t get customer service training and to be honest, it showed in my manager. She was only manager for the time being because our actual store manager quit and the assistant was taking over. Though she did seem to have a good sales outlook, everything else lacking.

The second lesson I learned was how to speak up for myself and others if we were treated unfairly. Some managers don’t like to listen to feedback, but it’s usually a good idea to speak up. One time an older coworker and I tried to swap a few shifts. My manager found out and my co-worker got yelled at and told me through a phone call where she was in tears. She thought she would get fired and really liked the job/needed the money. I went in to pick up my check that same day and my manager confronted me, so I somewhat took the blame but explained that Melissa (name also changed for privacy) had good reason to swap with me (her son was visiting from Texas) and that I was just as willing to do it. I didn’t switch again, but it felt good to stand up for somebody who didn’t have a voice, and my comments seemed to make a difference.

The final major lesson I learned had to do with fear; fear is everywhere. I considered the fact that my manager was afraid of failure. All of the times that she scolded us for not promoting the rewards program enough or for not helping a customer in time before they left the store, were really because didn’t want her boss to come back and blame it on her. Though not all of it was the employee’s fault, it’s still never good to fail and get yelled at. I can only imagine what a corporate scolding would be like. Failure can also come in terms of someone who is below you doing better. It can be a threat to your authority, and managers don’t like that.

I also considered fear in terms of general employees. When we don’t ask for help, are shy or are erratic in decision-making, it shows fear. We don’t want this to turn around and come back to us in a negative way. The fear is here and it is real. It takes away humor, judgment and often the ability to act rationally. Nobody should have to be in fear of their work, but unfortunately, bad managers can make that happen.

The sad reality is that you’re almost guaranteed to eventually run into a bad manager during at least one point of your career. However, it’s important not to let their managing be a reflection on you. You are doing just fine, and if anything, there are lessons you can learn from every job you encounter.

Madison Kirkpatrick is a graduating 4th-year student majoring in Sociology. In her free time, you can find her writing, taking photos, fantasizing about traveling to Australia, or talking with her friends about the latest episodes of Survivor and her new guilty pleasure, The Challenge! Her future career will hopefully be in the LA or Bay Area and incorporate marketing, social media, photography, writing, or some mix of the four.
 University of California, Santa Barbara chapter of Her Campus