The Top 10 Things I’ve Learned from Being a Boss

For the past 8 years, I have been the person I never expected to become: a boss. Before that, work was something I actually enjoyed doing 😛

Here are the top ten things I’ve learned from all those years (not including the controversial ones that might end up in tabloid news) 😉

1) There is a good reason why a boss’ office door must be kept closed at all times. And it isn’t to keep anyone from seeing him with his feet up on his desk.

I used to take pride in being able to work in the middle of utter chaos. But when you’re a boss, the chaos is right inside your head. Too many issues and concerns vie for your attention at any given time. My cellphone was a hotline, and with the numerous phonecalls, text messages, emails and walk-in visitors, there is hardly any chance to hear yourself think. Keeping the door closed is the least you can do to keep your sanity.

2) A boss should appear intimidating enough to create a comfortable distance from his employees. Otherwise, they will take too much liberty with your time and attention. On the other hand, if you seem too unapproachable, you’ll find yourself outside the loop of small office talk and miss out on what could be very interesting or useful information, or chit-chats that might eventually lead into wonderful friendships.

There was a time when I sent text to my staff that said: “All employees who need medical help may approach me for referral to free medicines and hospitalization”. And, just so that they wouldn’t think I was such a softie, I added : “However, DYING is STRICTLY prohibited. Anyone who dies during my term will be dealt with horribly”.

My subordinate had one utility personnel who was the worst case of insubordination I’ve ever seen. While attempting to explain her side to me, she was all sobs and tears. After a long tale of woe and drama, she must have slipped and said, “This dude told me I should cry my eyes out in front of you because being soft-hearted as you are, he was pretty sure you would forgive me and get me off the hook!”. I fired her right on the spot.

3) You’ll never see it coming, but the daily VIP servings of office refreshment is meant to make a boss really look like one, i.e., fat. One could get used to the never-ending supply of delicious cholesterol-laden food served to you on the dot every mealtime, with snacktimes in-between. The idea that your office kitchen helper could be feeding you to death will cross your mind, but being a boss numbs you from caring about it.

In our place of work, one could actually tell which supervisors have the highest degrees of stress from the size of their bellies.

4) No matter how wonderful you are, to your big boss you’re only as good as the people under you. Your admirable efficiency, competence and sheer genius won’t do you any good if your final output depends heavily on a large group of office workers who are not really keen on anything else except getting their money every payday. Even more so if their only qualification to the job is the fact that they were friends with the previous boss. No wonder cabinet secretaries look stressed all the time.

5) The time you put in your office has nothing to do with real output and actual results. In my first four years as The Boss, i was clocking in almost 16 hours every day! I was in the office by 9:00 am, and never went home as long as the Bigger Boss was still in his office churning out orders until the wee hours the following morning. One can blame it on the so-called learning curve and the huge time needed to become familiar with complex procedures, but at least now it can be told: I hardly got anything done working twice the regular office working hours. In contrast, these last three years when I consistently had high blood pressure and only put in an average of five hours in the office, I actually got a lot of things accomplished– considerably a lot, since by then I could do my work even with my eyes closed.


6) The more stressed you are, the more Facebook (and Candy Crush and other mindless games) seem appealing. But then everybody knows this. This is the real reason why Senator Enrile chose to play on his ipad rather than pretend to listen to Senator Miriam Santiago in front of live television.

(For the record, i don’t have a single game app on my iPad, except for the driving simulation apps. I don’t know what it is in driving apps that i find so interesting, except perhaps because I don’t drive in real life?)

7) Contrary to popular thinking, when you’re a boss, weekend vacations will do little to decrease your stress levels. No matter how much your blood pressure has gone down after dipping in the pool or shopping during weekends, it is bound to shoot right up when you get to the office by Monday.

8) Next to the computer, the cellphone is the most important piece of office equipment ever invented. With two departments under me, and six sub-offices under one department, i couldn’t imagine doing my job without the cp. How my predecessors managed to work effectively during the pre-gadget stone age is beyond my comprehension.

9) In connection with #5, if you’re working for an elected official who is eligible for only three terms at three years per term, chances are that by the time you’ve effectively mastered your job enough to really make a difference, your term is up. Election season every three years gets in the way. So this partly explains why the Philippine government is in a mess most of the time.

10) A boss’ level of stress and headache intensity is inversely proportional to the number of his staff who are qualified, competent, and actually cared about their job.