When Your Boss is a Jerk








We’ve all been there; working under someone we don’t like or respect. A boss who delegates everything, comes in late and leaves early, and spends most of his time at work shamelessly hitting on the secretarial staff. Or one who micromanages your every move and uses shame and degradation as a managerial style. The possibilities are endless, but the conclusion is the same:

Your boss is a jerk.

So how do you deal?

Consider the Direct Approach

Any HR professional will tell you that directly approaching an inferior superior is sometimes the best way to resolve potential conflicts. After all, perhaps they aren’t aware of how their current management style is reflecting upon them or hurting productivity in the office.

This is an “in a perfect world” solution. Yes, in a perfect world, you would be able to sit down with your supervisor and review your complaints. The two of you would have a big heart-to-heart, come to see each other as people (and not just employee and employer) and begin making strides towards having a better working relationship.

But in the real world, the direct approach is one that is a hard to pull off well and doesn’t always yield the results you may be looking for – particularly when your boss actually is a jerk. So take an honest look at yourself, your supervisor and your situation, and ask if you think the direct approach will work for you. If so, schedule a meeting and show up prepared to have a calm and rational conversation. But if not – move on to the next tip.


Document Your Issues

Start a log where you document all the behavior your boss exhibits that feels inappropriate or non-conducive to a productive work environment. Try to do this over at least a month. Then, look back on your complaints and ask yourself if they really seem so egregious in hindsight. Are they issues that you could, perhaps, be doing something to curtail (for instance, if your boss reacts poorly to your being late – even though he is often late himself – is the solution that you should start working harder to be on time, and worrying less about when he arrives?)

Sometimes it can help to share your list with a friend or relative who does not otherwise know your boss, as well. That outside perspective can give you the insight into whether the behaviors your boss is exhibiting are truly out of line, or if they are simply representative of a clash of personalities between the two of you.


Make a Visit to HR

Keep in mind that filing a complaint with HR is a big deal and has the potential to really affect another person’s career. And while most companies have policies regarding your privacy when talking to an HR representative, as well as prohibiting retaliation – it is also always a risk that you could come out of the other end of an official complaint having done nothing more than creating an even further divide between you and your boss.

That said, sometimes that risk is absolutely worth it and one you need to take. If you are at that point, schedule a meeting with a member of your HR team who you trust, and show up with your list of documented incidents to discuss. Know that an official complaint typically leads to retraining rather than a complete dismissal (depending on the severity of the issues you are bringing up) but a good HR person will work to ensure you are more comfortable in your working environment.


Keep Your Options Open

Should all else fail, remember that you are not required to stay in your current position. Start looking for opportunities to be promoted from within at your organization, to transfer to different departments, or to interview for openings at other companies all together. Again in a perfect world, you wouldn’t have to be the one who has to leave – but if your boss truly is a jerk, and there seems to be no way to ease the situation; looking elsewhere may just be the best and healthiest decision you could make.



About Kylie Hammond
Executive Search Consultant, Head-Hunter, HR Consultant, Executive Career Coach, Expert Resume Writer & Executive Talent Agent.

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