Bosses From Hell.And What You Can Learn From Them

What They Learned

Kevin S. Grangier is president of CarryOn Communication, a publicity firm in Beverly Hills, California, that opened in 1998. But before that, he worked for a multitude of employers. Some were good; some were not-like the boss who would often tell Grangier to fight the heavy traffic and bring her paperwork to her house because she didn't want to do it herself. "It was a one-hour drive-each way," he sighs.

That same boss once told Grangier that if he wanted to leave the office early to catch a flight for Thanksgiving weekend, it would have to come out of his vacation time. So he offered to work on the airplane, which the boss readily agreed to, as long as Grangier didn't want to be paid for that time. But she did expect him to bill the client (at $275 an hour) for the period spent working on the airplane.

"I quit a few months after that," reports Grangier, who says his own company is the antithesis of most of the companies he worked for in the past. "My philosophy is that if you create an environment that's fun to work in and respect your employees, they'll be happy," he says. "If they're happy, they'll do good work, and if they do good work, of course, the client will be happy."

Grangier readily admits it isn't easy keeping employees in good spirits, especially when you're experiencing rapid growth. In a recent span of nine months, Grangier went from five employees to 32, and his firm, which brought in $5 million in 2000, expects $9 million this year. "It's easy to lose that comfortable atmosphere. It can happen overnight if you allow it to," says Grangier, who says he's passed on some big accounts simply because he knew it would tax his staff. "[But] I don't want employees dropping off like flies. Why would I want to do anything to jeopardize something I've spent so much time on?"

Heaven can appear through the clouds after working for the boss from hell. In Marston's case, he quit a few weeks after being forced to fire his colleague, and in 1996, he and his mother, Judy Marston, started Marston Communications in Charlotte, North Carolina. And now Cam's life's work is to consult with employers who have trouble relating to their under-35 employees. In short, Marston Communications' goal is to forever rid the world of bosses from hell.

And just how do you do that? It's not hard. At least, not on paper. "Be absolutely honest," says Marston. "Don't try to deceive: You can never get away with it. And no one is an experiment. This is not a laboratory for you to see what would happen if-these are people's lives you're dealing with."

Then Marston reveals what is probably the best lesson any employer can learn: "People aren't loyal to companies; they're loyal to people they like."

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Geoff Williams has written for numerous publications, including Entrepreneur, Consumer Reports, LIFE and Entertainment Weekly. He also is the author of Living Well with Bad Credit.

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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Bosses From Hell.And What You Can Learn From Them.

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