Everyone wants to have a boss who is smart, supportive, fair and honest with strong coaching and mentoring qualities. If you have ever worked with such a boss, you know how wonderful that relationship can be. If you have worked long enough to have had more than two or three bosses, you know ALL BOSSES ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL. Sometimes, the boss is a Jerk!
Unlike great bosses, or even average bosses, JERK BOSSES ARE NOT-SO-SMART, SUPERFICIALLY SUPPORTIVE, UNFAIR, AND BASICALLY DISHONEST – hiding the real motives behind their actions. Most coaching and mentoring they do is done to build allegiance to them, rather than build competence and independent thinking within the employee. If you have not encountered a boss who is a Jerk, just keep working, chances are you will.
The not-so-smart Jerk Boss needs to feel smart and “looked up to”. They dabble in minutia and details far below their level of responsibility in the organization. They may meddle all in your job responsibilities because they are incompetent to handle their own.
All that said, THE JERK BOSS IS STILL THE BOSS. Pouting and whining about the situation will not make it better. Complaining to the boss’ boss – or HR -rarely, if ever, accomplishes anything positive. While bosses may not like each other, THEY OFTEN CIRCLE THE BOSS WAGONS WHEN ONE OF THEM IS UNDER ATTACK from a non-boss employee. HR is often powerless to intervene.
- Do not look to anyone other than yourself to manage your relationship with your boss.
- Learn to respect the position if not the person. I know this is hard, and can be very hard. Even so, until you are in a position to get another job and roll the dice with another boss, respecting the position may be all you can hang on to.
- Jerk Boss or not, you will generally need the support of your boss to get another job in the organization – and sometimes outside.
- Find one thing the Jerk Boss does well and manage your attitude by focusing on that one thing. It may be the only way you stay sane and keep your job.
- Never underestimate how easily Jerk Bosses feel threatened.
- You rarely have an opportunity to choose your boss. They come and they go.
Your potential in the organization need not be thwarted because you work with a Jerk Boss. By the way, the Jerk Boss NEVER sees you as working WITH him, only FOR him (or her). WHEN YOU MANAGE YOURSELF FIRST, YOU ARE BETTER ABLE TO MANAGE THE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR BOSS.
These lessons are not so much about what is “right” or “wrong”. They are not even about how things “ought to be”. They are about realities I have personally experienced or observed, and hope the learning will be of value to you.