Dealing with incompetent or disrespectful bosses is never funny—unless it is happening on Seinfeld! In honor of Seinfeld’s 25th anniversary this month we take a look back at the most hilariously horrible bosses ever featured on the show, in order from bad to worse, and give them each a mini performance review complete with recommendations for improvement:
J. Peterman, Founder, J. Peterman Catalog
J. Peterman regularly subjects his staff to his delusions of grandeur, questionable stories of international intrigue, borderline sexual harassment, and complete lack of touch with day to day operations. He disappears to the Burmese jungle at one point amidst a mental breakdown and leaves Elaine in charge of the catalog despite her total lack of experience. When he returns, Elaine is demoted to her original position at her original salary, which is announced publicly in a staff meeting.
Performance Review: The catalog’s HR department must be busy dealing with Peterman’s inappropriate comments and odd requests to have his employees change his flat tires. His employees spend their days having cake parties due to lack of direction provided by upper management.
Recommendation: Don’t demotivate your staff by publicly announcing demotions; be sure to make a succession plan for your next long-term absence; communicate goals to employees; and don’t mention drugs or sex at work.
Mr. Pitt, Executive at Doubleday Publishing
Mr. Pitt hired Elaine as his personal assistant, a position in which she performed such duties as picking salt off pretzels, buying socks, and helping him get a position under the Woody Woodpecker balloon in the Thanksgiving Day parade.
Performance Review: Mr. Pitt is demanding, but does not see Elaine’s potential to be more than just a personal shopper or errand girl.
Recommendation: Recognize your staff and their potential, and give them increased responsibility to ensure they stay motivated and engaged.
Rick Levitan, Owner of Rick Barr Properties
George quits in a huff after Levitan sends out an office-wide memo telling employees they cannot use his private bathroom, then comes back on Monday to try to pretend it was all a joke. At one point Levitan tells George, “I’ll always be a winner, and you’ll always be a loser.”
Performance Review: Levitan makes sexually suggestive jokes to women in the office and humiliates George in front of the entire company in a staff meeting. Plus, the fact that he cheats on his wife and does not recycle make this guy one of the worst.
Recommendation: Don’t send out passive-aggressive emails to the entire company to deal with one person’s transgression; speak to him or her privately. Also, keep the sexual jokes out of the office and put your plastic bottles in the blue bin!
Mr. Kruger, President of Kruger Industrial Smoothing
According to George, the company’s slogan should be, “We don’t care and it shows,” as evidenced in their inability to get the green stuff off the Statue of Liberty. Kruger gets more upset at George’s fake Christmas gift than the fact that his company is “in the red, or the black
or whichever the bad one is.”
Performance Review: Kruger seems to be running the company purely for his own amusement, favoring those who tell the best jokes during meetings. He is best known for spinning in his chair during important meetings. The building’s sign now says “K-uger” because the “r” has fallen off, which Kruger finds amusing. Clearly this guy isn’t fit to run a company.
Recommendation: Let someone else run the company! When you’ve lost your passion sometimes it’s best to step aside and let someone with real motivation take the reins.
George Steinbrenner, NY Yankees Owner
Mr. Steinbrenner seems more concerned about lunch foods than running a successful business. His incompetence allows George to get through several years at the Yankees organization without doing a shred of real work. In fact, George almost gets a promotion after his car breaks down in the parking lot because his bosses assume he is coming in early and leaving late.
Performance Review: Steinbrenner’s lack of awareness allows incompetence to flourish at his organization. George takes daily naps under his desk, and fools everyone into thinking he’s busy simply by looking annoyed.
Recommendation: Set goals for your employees and reward staff when they achieve them. Don’t allow the person who brings you calzones every day get ahead if they haven’t earned it!