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What are these strange technical jobs called?

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I have been in an electronics job for a month where my boss is consistently giving me “stupid” jobs to do. Its as if he is testing me to see if I am stupid enough to do them. Either that, or he is just trying to demotivate me into leaving.
Do you know what the actual term is for a “dumb” job that someone gives you so as to see if you are stupid enough to do it.? ..Is it something like a “dog’s job”? (ie, “my boss gave me a dog’s job”)
We are using electrolytic capacitors in our SMPS output, and the other day, he asked me to drill a hole down deep into the electrolytic capacitor and put a thermal sensor in there so that we could measure the core temperature of the capacitor. This is pretty mad as you will know.
Before that he asked me to design an 100W LLC converter to run off a PFC output, (100-265VAC mains input) that would repeatedly charge a capacitor from 60V to 300V over one second, then a high power xenon beacon gets flashed….the thing is, its well known that an LLC would be a poor choice for this because the range of output voltage is too much for an LLC converter. (it could be done, but would be a very poor choice).
Before that he had me measuring SMPS efficiency and capacitor values etc with lab kit that was totally un-calibrated. The only thing that was calibrated was the current probe, but that turned out to be faulty. When I proposed a test to check the accuracy of the test gear, he disallowed it, and just requested that I continue testing, -even though the test results were coming out very wrong.
He has me running our charger up to 300V with a capacitor that is rated at 300V. –Not enough margin.
So, do you know what its called when you give someone a dumb job to see if they are dumb enough to go ahead and do it?

A dumb boss!

Believe me, they exist. Remember that competent people tend to be given jobs needing their abilities and experience, the less competent tend to be given jobs pushing pens up and down papers, ie Bosses. Those than can do, do. Those that can't, manage them!

I know (but won't name!) a domineering manager who went on a screaming fit at a line of ladies doing hand soldering work on a production line. There was some problem with the line which he diagnosed as "too much water in the sponges on soldering iron stations". He picked up a sponge, squeezed the water out of it on to the floor, put it back on the soldering station then slipped on the water, fell to the floor and knocked himself unconcious. It could have been serious but the rapturous applause from the ladies said volumes about his popularity!


Thanks, and there's actually a name for someone a job that is daft but you just want to see if they are stupid enough to do it.....its something like, a "stinker of a job", but i forget.

I have seen a lot of this in various companies I have worked for over the years. Fortunately I have personally escaped the worst of it (mainly through luck).

Typical example, we need to design an i/o interface board that can DIRECTLY drive two hundred individual and fully isolated remote outputs. But it absolutely MUST fit into the standard card cage that existing customers already have. Which has only sixty pins.
I am serious, an engineering colleague was actually set that task. The suggestion that more than one card slot could be used was met with absolute horror.

There is a very simple solution to that kind of thing.
It involves the middle finger, and finding alternative employment.

There's a well-known joke about the new young guy being told to 'Go to the hardware store and bring back some elbow grease.'

It's hard to believe someone in electronics is unaware that drilling a hole in a capacitor ruins it.

If he's less capable than you are, then he's probably the boss because he acts like a boss. He makes snap decisions, which is characteristic of a boss (even if they are the wrong decisions). He's the only one who knows how to 'make progress', therefore 'the team needs him to call every play'.

Avoid arguing with him or correcting him. He sees that as challenging his authority, which is the same as threatening his position, which is the same as threatening his livelihood.

Tape a temp sensor to the capacitor, with a circuit that gives a proper reading. Tell him 'We found a way to do what you said, without destroying the capacitor.' It's important to let him know you're trying to do what he told you to do.

Occasionally he may tell you to do something silly just to see whether you follow his orders. He tells himself it's justified so he can make sure you're a 'team player'. Since you do not know when he's serious, it's best to follow his orders as much as you can.

Your job is to make the boss look good. Try making him look bad a couple of times, and see what happens. You may think you ought to try to stop him from making a fool of himself... Except that you must do it without damaging his self-esteem. This is not possible unless you're one of those rare people with the gift. Few people have that gift.

Unfortunately some of these Bosses rise through nepotism, and the secret hand shake. They assume that through lies deception and cunning they become absolute gods in their own eyes.

Need to part the waters, just order it, and it shall be done.

Getting down on your knees and being humble and diplomatic is never a long term solution.

I have seen many a brave captain of industry sail his ship into bankruptcy in clear blue skies, through sheer stubborn stupidity. I have seen the brilliant founder of a large company literally kick his moron CEO faggot son really hard in the arse before a whole assembly of employees.

You can live like that, or gather your self respect and get the hell out of there. Which is what I have always chosen to do.

Your job is to make the boss look good. Try making him look bad a couple of times, and see what happens. You may think you ought to try to stop him from making a fool of himself....

These people are hard, often impossible, to correct or educate. They are resistant to learning and they sincerely believe that they are doing a great job.

But the real irony is that even the boss has a boss. Perhaps the superboss does not really care as long as things are getting done and he is acting like a boss.

On one hand they damage the company and on the other hand they spoil the morale of the staff. The juniors will inevitably assume that all bosses are like that!

No, it may be dangerous if you try to make him look bad.

Thinking of "super bosses", the individual I mentioned earlier had no tact whatsoever and got his come-uppance. In his usual heartless way, when there was a dip in production he called the entire factory floor (about 150 people) together and read out a list of about 10 names then said "Don't bother coming in tomorrow, you are all fired". Unfortunately for him, 'Big Boss' who was a very reasonable person then stepped forward in a rage and said "No, do come in, you are not fired" and pointing at the bad manager said "but you are!". Whereupon the bad manager was frog marched off the factory floor, thrown out of the factory and taken home, his company car being taken back.

So I would suggest if there is a 'super boss' - and they are approachable, you tactfully point out that some of your instructions are unlikely to improve productivity. Appearing proactive, especially if you can propose better ways to improve product reliability and/or reduce costs will stand you in good stead and at the same time look bad for the boss.


Thanks all for these responses
There's a well-known joke about the new young guy being told to 'Go to the hardware store and bring back some elbow grease.'
....thats exactly the type of thing, yes...along with being sent to the stroes to fetch a "long weight", or being sent to stores to fetch "skyhooks".

Is their a name for that kind of job?
...i think its called a "mug's job" or something. There must be a name for it.

- - - Updated - - -

I have always been careful with this boss. If there was a technical issue then I would never ever tell him about it in front of other people, as like you say, I scrupulously want to avoid being seen to be trying to challenge him etc etc. I have written emails to him and only him about certain issues……..never to other people. So I honestly think ive played it as well as I could have in preserving his authority/status.
I sent him an individual email about our power supply which was made in china…..i was questioning that the peak current setting method of the flyback converter is too variable due to tolerance. In fact , this thread discusses the issue….
He seems to have not appreciated me bringing this issue up, even though I never spoke to him about it in public, but only by private email.

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