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How About We Let People Do The Work We Hired Them For?

, , , , | Working | October 20, 2021

I create designs for a print shop and have a very frustrating boss. Here are a few examples of how she manages our department.

I was tasked with creating a sign to mark the Employees Only area of our shop. I made a simple design with a red circle with a line through it next to the words, “Employees Only.” My boss made me change it to a text-only design because:

Boss: “The circle with the red line through it is hostile. It’s like we’re saying our clients aren’t welcome here. You should make the sign more welcoming. I went to college for this. I got my degree on this matter.”

It’s true my degree isn’t in Marketing; it’s in Business… but so is hers! I also feel it’s ridiculous, as the red circle with a line through it is a universally recognized symbol, and I feel that maybe, just maybe, the people who don’t read signs would recognize the symbol and stop before entering. Regardless, her version must have been “welcoming” as people did keep barging through the back door.

In a different case, I was tasked with designing a business card for a client. I came up with a design that met all of the specifications and showed it to my boss for final approval. She suggested one change, which I implemented immediately, and then she approved it without further comment. The job was sent to the printers. Before it was shipped out two days later, I happened to pass by the printer area and see it. The graphic I chose had been completely removed, leaving the card as just plain text. I asked the boss about this.

Boss: “The graphic made it hard to read the text.”

I disagreed — I wear glasses and had taken my glasses off to proofread the business card and could read everything just fine — but since she’s the boss, if she wants no graphic, then there’s no graphic. This client had no strong feelings about that particular design choice. I just couldn’t understand why my manager wouldn’t tell me when we were going through the approval process so I could correct it. I can’t understand why she felt the need to go behind my back to remove the graphic herself without even telling me at any point in time!

Speaking of “hard to see,” she claimed that a lot; I know for a fact, though, that my vision is worse than hers. I would look at the things she would nitpick over, claiming that the position of words and graphics were “hard to read.” I never had the problem reading what she said was impossible to read. If anything, it boiled down to stylistic differences. I preferred one strong graphic to interact with the text. She preferred repeating the same graphic in a tile pattern, which resulted in a series of smaller graphics and a lot of white space. I also felt that I was her least favorite designer, as she perpetually commented on my use of fonts — which were always on the list of approved fonts for any given job — while she never commented on my coworkers’ designs. One such coworker went as far as to use a bubble letter font with googly eyes — not requested by the client — and the boss said nothing and didn’t go behind that coworker’s back to change anything.

But through it all, I just swallowed my thoughts with, “I’m being paid regardless and she’s the boss.” However, the most recent incident caused me to post here. 

I worked for half a day on a new job: a series of advertising fliers for a local client. I had a pile of photos the client wanted to use, and this client had spoken to me about which images were the best of the bunch. I worked hard, laying out everything with the approved colors and fonts. I kept everything to no more than three graphics per flyer so that they would all be large enough to see at a distance. Most flyers only have a single client-given photo; a few have two. My boss approved my designs.

The next day, I went through our shared folder looking for an unrelated assignment when I noticed the “recently edited” date on my flyer project was only a couple hours ago. I opened it and, sure enough, my boss had again gone behind my back, except this time, she had absolutely and completely and totally butchered everything. She crammed upward of six graphics on a single flyer, choosing the busiest graphics and putting frames around each image, so each image would be all the smaller when printed. The frames even had the original creators’ watermarks on them, so she just took images from the Internet! She ignored the client’s preferred photos, and she associated photos together on the same flyers that were supposed to be on different flyers. She also butchered a couple of the layouts, resulting in one flyer with the images literally stacked on top of each other like a deck of cards and a different flyer cut in half, size-wise. She didn’t even make a copy of all the work I had done initially. She overwrote everything, leaving behind nothing but her versions with her edits. This meant I had to take another half-day remaking the flyers up to the client’s actual specifications.

The thing is, if she wanted edits, she could have simply not approved my initial designs and given me feedback on what to change. She didn’t have to lie about approving things and then go behind my back to butcher everything.

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