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The Accountemps boss wasn’t the only one to vividly explain why she is the most difficult boss in Limburg. Dozens of submissions described plenty of good reasons:

A recurring theme (in around half the submissions) is that most entrepreneurs and managers want (/have to) give their customers a world-class service, set high standards for themselves and expect a lot (and sometimes too much) from their staff. But there are more “difficult” cases...

An anthology:

The top five with a smile
  1. ... If I had to work for someone like myself, I probably wouldn’t last a week.
  2. They say I sound like an ambulance: do-this do-that do-this do-that...
  3. Always difficult extra requests, the amount of work is endless and now she keeps demanding a pamper package!
  4. The fact that she receives her first orders at 6.30am while brushing her teeth and she can’t afford the time off to be pampered for a day...
  5. Difficult? If everyone jumps when I tell them to, I’m the easiest boss alive!

The most moving
  • I can snap sometimes, but my assistant snaps right back at me, which is fine. I’m quite demanding, but that’s just because I don’t like a job half done. My work is my life. Sometimes I forget to reserve time for relaxation, and I may impose that blind spot onto my staff at times. Still, we’re a good team and despite some differences of opinion and minor disputes, we work very well together. She’s my right hand, I’m her left. We’ve been working together for years now and we’re still doing great. We complement each other without even a hint or thought of a romantic relationship. We’re also friends outside of work.

The five most grateful
  1. This one is too long to list, which says enough really. Katrien is both my right and my left hand 😉 ... At Carglass, we want to exceed our customers’ expectations, and I expect Katrien to achieve this at our organisation (which she does tremendously well!) Caroline Ameloot, Carglass
  2. I’m a difficult boss because my busy calendar makes me hard to reach for my management assistant and she has to make a lot of decisions on her own. This puts a lot of pressure on her. I would like to use this opportunity to express my gratitude. (Inge at Ceyssens Glas)
  3. Because I coordinate several campuses, I’m away quite a lot. Anneleen frequently solves problems before I’m even aware of them. In addition, I attach great importance to good customer service. I hold my team to high standards when it comes to customer-oriented professionalism, also when I’m out of the office. (Suzzy Custers, Syntra)
  4. I’m a difficult boss because I expect Jolien to deliver accurate and correct work, sometimes I need her to do mindless chores (dishes!), she takes a huge amount of calls for people who are difficult to reach, and she manages to maintain a (highly contagious) smile on her face all day long while I tend to show up in the morning in a bad mood! (Johnny Willems, Gilen Woonprojecten)
  5. I’m a perfectionist and want our internal procedures to be followed down to the finest detail! That doesn’t make my employees’ lives any easier. On the other hand, I do have a lot of confidence in and respect for the amazing job they do and all the success they bring us. I’m proud of that! (Jo Janssen, JoJo Electronica)

The five most honest
  1. I can’t stand smoking (at work) and even if she does it on her own time, I’ll never be able to condone it... it’s probably in my genes!
  2. I don’t like ‘off days’ and body odour!
  3. I can be insufferable in the morning and when stress levels are high, I tend to delegate a huge amount of tasks to her that must be done urgently and to perfection all at the same time.
  4. Perfectionist! Dot the i’s, cross the t’s and then some!
  5. Demanding, things always move too slowly and I always push my assistant to take it up a notch. Or two. She hates it. We’re found yelling at each other on a regular basis as a result.

Five on communication
  1. Bad at communicating, tend to be late to appointments, a (selective) bad memory, disorganised, ‘doctor’s handwriting’.
  2. I can’t order her around, she has to work it out for herself and mind-reading devices haven’t been invented yet.
  3. I’m never satisfied and expect them to understand me with just half the information. Other than that, I’m not so bad.
  4. I complain a lot and give few compliments.
  5. I’m at the office around 7am, so by the time Lynn shows up, I’m running at full speed. I barely say good morning before burying her in assignments, and this can be a pain. Plus, I can go into berserk-mode sometimes; I demand a lot, and quickly!

Co-working partners
  • My assistant is also my wife. When asked about our division of labour in the classroom, our daughter put it very well: ‘My daddy makes bikes and my mummy does everything else’. The teacher proceeded to ask whether 'Daddy may be disabled’? Not quite, but my wife does do everything else: looks after the house, three kids, garden maintenance, washing the cars, even taking out the rubbish, and at work she mans the phone, does our accounting, procurement and sales, all of logistics, cleaning, etc. Women are really good at multi-tasking. We expect no less.
  • Seeing as my management assistant is also ‘my spouse’, she has no fixed work hours and I’m not afraid to send office work her way after 8pm. Sometimes I want to rely on her 24 hours a day! If I’m the most difficult, she’s the most accommodating!

And finally, the shortlist: entries that moved us the most

  • We are seven women (including a management assistant) and she works for all of us – an achievement in its own right. She runs from one end of the office to the other, does everything for everyone and trust me, we’ve got some interesting specimens here. I’m certainly the worst of them all.
  • I demand way too much, ALWAYS pushing for faster, better, more work, starting earlier, more overtime. I don’t do compensation (yet) ... I withdraw leave, cancel leave, I’m sorry to say I’ve done it all many times! I’ve had to beg my assistant to come back after her voluntary resignation twice now. Please, let her win!
  • Got a minute? I think the main thing is that I’m extremely demanding. Everything has to be perfect, water glasses must be placed in a perfectly straight line for our meetings. No private calls, texts and the like are allowed. I’m still human, albeit a very difficult one. Greet however, handles it with grace.
  • According to this boss, he’s at the office 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, never has any business dinners, rarely takes a vacation, knows everything, always gives accurate instructions that the MA tends to misunderstand. But most of all, this boss has a tremendous amount of respect for the difficult job the MA is pulling off, which insiders wouldn’t believe even if he said it out loud. This MA deserves a reward, if only to make up for this rumoured lack of empathy. I’ll bet this is all because of a bad office chair.

Courageous bosses:
  1. Danny Indestege, Jaga nv
  2. Ann Wojtowicz, Dynamis
  3. Caroline Ameloot, Carglass
  4. Jacky Umans, Profel
  5. Kurt Crals, C&M bouwconstruct
  6. Els Oye, Loenders bvba
  7. Katrien Janssens, GMG Meat and Meals
  8. Koen Vanhove, Conrad Consulting NV
  9. Steve Aerts, Smets Dekzeiltechnieken
  11. 1Jo Janssen, JOJO Elektronica bvba
  12. Veronique Cleymans, Robert Half
  13. Marina Doggen, Berrentec
  14. Luk Kathagen, Kathagen
  15. Jos Aerts, Aerts nv
  16. Fruitsnacks
  17. Marc Sourbron, Sourbron Fotografie
  18. Wilbert Thys, CSG
  19. Eric Motmans, Motmans Eric bvba
  20. Inge at Ceyssens Glas
  21. Neerpeltse Olie Centrale
  22. Jo Nelissen, ABN nv
  23. Reinier Teunissen, Watertechniek Teunissen
  24. Stephan Truyers, Optiek
  25. Kim Zeegers, mambotango bvba
  26. Cary, Rene lezard
  27. Peter Lambrix
  28. Patrick Schruers, Zeta-advocaten bvba
  29. Csm Metaalwerken
  30. Ronny Swinnen, bvba Ronny Swinnen Interieurbouw
  31. Wuestenraed Theo Slagerij
  32. VS Projects
  33. Eetcafe Rossi
  34. Ab Matic
  35. Metal steel
  36. G.Cosmetics
  37. ETV
  38. Axion invest
  39. Festal Express
  40. A.R.P.Brouwers
  41. Holgo nv
  42. Motorhuis Hasselt
  43. Patrick Reyskens
  44. Johan Vandermeer
  45. Jozel Otten Jozef
  46. Basisschool De Klimop
  47. De Vrienden van Pietersheim
Editor's note: The list is limited to companies, entrepreneurs and managers who gave us permission to mention their names. Thank you!