In many areas of the world, today is Halloween, which means people will be gallivanting around town asking for candy or partying like it's 1999 while garbed in scary costumes. It's the one day of the year when people celebrate the ghoulish, the horrific, and the terrifying. Which might explain candy corn, among other things.
If you really want horror stories however, there are better places to find them than Stephen King books or John Carpenter movies. You need look no further than your own workplace! The office is full of tales of terror and woe. And if you listen to these stories closely, you'll hear familiar frights — because you've probably experienced them yourself. Some examples below.
Bad, Brutal Bosses
An article by Harvard Business Review expressed a killer statement a few years back: that employees don't quit jobs, they quit managers.
That's simply because many high-performing workers are promoted to managerial positions and yet are woefully unprepared with the people skills it takes to lead a team. The result is discouraged, disengaged workers who must contend with challenges that have less to do with the actual tasks assigned to them and more to do with their supervisor.
Horrible bosses, terrible clients, and "project managers from hell" obsess over minutiae, blow up at the smallest errors, and somehow still have the authority to fire you. If that isn't scarier than Freddie Krueger, then you've never been laid off. Shudder in fear!
Creepy Corporate Culture
And then there is the horror of corporate culture gone wrong. Don't believe that a work culture can become so toxic that it pains you to set foot in the office?
Author Dan Lyons has the ultimate work culture horror story in his book, Disrupted, where he recounts his year in a tech startup surviving ageism, silly activities that do nothing for the bottom line, divisive cliquishness, and vague leadership. And it's only funny because it didn't happen to you.
Just look at the bad behavior reported at companies like Tinder, American Apparel, Zenefits, and more, where C-level executives have to resort to company-wide memos to curb reprehensible behavior.
- Age Gaps & Toxic Startup Culture — a Book Review of Disrupted by Dan Lyons
- Bad Office Behavior is Risky Business
- 10 Signs You Have a Toxic Workplace Culture
- 6 Strategies for Dealing with a Toxic Work Environment
Primitive Prehistoric Projects
If it's not your manager or the office culture that's giving you nightmares, then it might be the work itself. Because nothing is as horrific as a project that mutates in scope and morphs into many-headed Hydra. Check out these stories of work projects that became timeless terrors:
- 5 Project Management Warnings from The Shining
- 3 Disastrous Marketing Horror Stories
- 5 Project Management Ideas That Should Be Extinct
The Office Doesn't Have to Be Terrifying... With the Right Leadership
Now that it's Halloween, you can forget the horror movie marathon. If you want truly terrifying tales that will curdle your blood, all you have to do is ask your peers about the worst thing they've seen at their past or present jobs.
But is all work horrific? Obviously not. The workplaces and companies that people want to work in are those that run on collaboration instead of intimidation, where there is sharing instead of blaming, and worker autonomy instead of despotism. And this all stems from strong leadership.
If you want to learn what it takes to build a company culture where autonomy, mastery, and purpose lead to happier, more engaged workers, then read: Leadership: The Keys to Instilling Autonomy, Mastery, & Purpose In Your Team.