Help, my Manager is a Jerk!


You might have asked yourself these questions: Why are there so many bad bosses? Why do we not get rid of our jerk bosses?

To emphasize these points: the harsh verdict of a questionnaire in the Netherlands is that two out of three workers think their boss sucks. According to research by recruitment site Monster, Dutch are much more critical of theirmy manager is a jerk leadership than employees in other countries. In countries around Holland or indeed outside Europe, apparently “only” half of the people are having trouble with their boss.  As if that is a good situation.

High numbers

Well, it does not matter how you look at these figures, but the sheer numbers mentioned here are just staggering: some 68% of Dutch people and 50% of people outside Netherlands borders think their boss is a jerk! Actually, by experience, I am a sound skeptic of bosses, but this still blows my mind.

Here is another fact that speaks for itself: two out of three workers will sometimes play with the thought of getting rid of their manager. So it seems that there are very few people out there that are really satisfied with their immediate supervisor.

Why then is this so and what can you do about this? Just read on to find out. Or if you are sick and tired of bosses, check out my number 1 recommendation below.

Reasons for boss’s bad behavior

A representative of Monster has a clear explanation: managers excel in a lack of empathy. According to this person, leaders miss quite a few social and communication skills to really drive a team of people. While that is precisely what lack of empathytheir jobs are all about.

Their ‘jerk’ like behavior can greatly affect employees, as many experts in the business very well know. Consider these adverse consequences: demotivated employees, loss of energy, low job satisfaction, lower productivity, absenteeism, or even quitting the job.

Happens frequently

Experts see it happens regularly in practice. “ You need employees with sufficient space in their work and that feel confident that their bosses make the right decisions. And not being in the habit of wanting to decide everything. No worker will be waiting for such a situation”. What are the worker’s needs? A manager who inspires, listens, minds and has knowledge of their colleagues seriously facilitates his own work.

And moreover, the more managers there are, the more they will want to manage. “Thus they want above all to prove their existence, ” says another expert. To be a good manager, you should be open to feedback and criticism from workers and in this way you can really connect people with each other.

Boss’s situation

Is it really all bad about bosses? In judging our bosses we should not be too severe in the managers and should take into account the circumstances. Sometimes they are in quite a difficult situation, with all the change processes which they have to control. First, they need to assess the performance of employees, on the other hand they want to bosses have stress toomaintain a good relationship.

Balancing act

The latter sometimes calls for balancing on a thin rope; if the manager, at the annual assessment, unexpectedly comes up with all sorts of judgments and blame, a breach of trust is lurking. ,, Possible consequence is that the employee will feel angry, or have a decreased motivation and he or she will fail. “

However great the aversion to the manager may be, many employees still do not envy his position. Although a third thinks that they should do better than their boss, the majority recognizes that it is difficult to excel as a good manager.

Open to criticism

Many HR sources think that the key to good cooperation between the manager and employee is in open communication. ,, To be a good manager, you have to connect and be open to feedback and criticism from workers and then you have people together. “” But this is not as easy as it sounds.  “It requires self-understanding of managers and in many cases a cultural change within the company. ” As if that ever is going to happen!

Bad for you

A bad boss can ruin your life. Last year, the American magazine The Atlantic reported that bad leadership can lead to what about your healthpoorer health among others, stresses in your family, and an increased risk of heart problems. Recently management consultancy Hay Group reported that 55 percent of managers, based on global research, create a demoralizing work environment. Netherlands is an exception with an even higher score of 68 percent (as mentioned above) of the people having demotivating supervisors. For many people, their immediate boss is one of the major stress factors in their lives.

Unfortunately, poor leadership comes in all shapes and sizes. In her book Bad Leadership Barbara Kellerman sorts them into seven categories: incompetent, rigid, intemperate, indifferent, corrupt, aloof and evil.

What to do?

All well and good, but what can you do? Changing people’s behavior is complex especially if someone is not willing to cooperate. Yes, of course you can try to talk to your boss. Or complain to the boss of your boss or HR. But you are in need of a real change. Therefore, here are three different approaches for when something really needs to change for the better.

1. Conditioning ignore behavior

You ignore your boss’s annoying behavior, react stoically to his bursts and smile silently when he is speaking to you in a raised voice. You only respond when you hear a normal tone and content. This approach can be very effective, but requires a lot of self-control. Especially since you ignoring him the first times will most likely lead to more aggressive behavior from your boss.

2. He (or she) should be fired.

Sounds impossible to you? I have described some success stories of how to do this here.

The best way is to build up evidence of your boss’s behavior and assemble a file. Save embarrassing emails. Even better: If you are a participant in a call it is legally allowed to record it. For example, use your smart phone to record a meeting. And you do not need to tell this to the other attendees. So, if someone threatens you or says all kinds of gross things, you can always use the recording (it is even admissible in court).

you just leave3. You take the decision to leave.

No appetite for the somewhat nerve-racking solutions above? But your immediate supervisor has a very big impact on your job satisfaction and career. If this attitude influences both issues negatively, then it will be better to look for something else. “A quick flight was more honorable than to bow to the yoke of the occupier,” Homer wrote.

Conclusion + recommendation

Having a jerk of a boss can result in many adverse consequences, even going to the point of reducing one’s own health. We should never let this happen!

Do not just sit back and hope for the better as this will not be the case. Take some of the actions as described above and read my article about how to fire your boss. See some other articles on this site about bossing, bullying bosses and what to do about them.

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6 thoughts on “Help, my Manager is a Jerk!”

  1. Hi Jerry,

    I spent 17 years working for a family company and pretty much had 2 bosses. On the other hand, I have worked in retail for 10 years and have already had over 16 bosses. Here is what I have observed the best bosses have in common:

    1) They understand that fear can have short term gains, but in the long run you get more out of your workers by showing respect.
    2) The develop an effective balance between concern for workers and concern for production.
    3) They don’t punish mistakes but insists that you learn to correct them.
    4) They empower you to make decisions and coach you where you fall short.
    5) They are consistent in living up to the mission of the company.

    Needless to say that the bad bosses do the opposite. Sometimes experience let’s you see red flags that others don’t. You then need to trust yourself to make the right move.

    • Thanks Thabo, this is very true. In my 37 year career in business I have experienced some of these kind of bosses. When reading these characteristics of good bosses, you may wonder why not more bosses are like that. After all, it is not rocket science. Also, if it is proven that working like that gets the best out of your employees, very much to the benefit of the company, why would management support its management structure, even when some jerks form part of it? I am going to research this particular issue further.

  2. I think a lot of us get stuck in the “I hate my boss/job” cycle and our only solution is to find another job. Then we fall back into the cycle. Not knowing that we can be our own boss. This post provided a great means to get out of the hate my boss saga. I can see how joining Wealthy Affiliate can help take the burdens off dealing with tough bosses.

    • Hi Lauren, if you you would be unfortunate enough, you could go from one bad boss to another. But at least you took some action in order to improve on your situation and starting another job should have given you temporary relief. I agree with you that one of the best ways out of this circle is to start for yourself, be your own boss and even work from your own place. What better community to do this with than Wealthy Affiliate (WA)! Literally everybody can do this following WA training and their tremendous support. Cheers, Jerry

  3. I’ve been on both sides of the barricade. 🙂
    I’ve never had a “pleasure” to work with a jerk boss and I think I’m ok as a boss too. It is hard being a boss. Remember, when your boss is breathing down your neck, it is usually because there is a deadline and he/she is responsible for delivering on time. And your boss has to answer to their bosses and so on… Sometimes people do not handle the pressure of responsibility well, hence the “jerkness”…

    • Hi Magda, I have been on both sides too. It happens many times that the boss, who has the responsibility, blames the mistakes made on his staff and gets away with it. He or she might even have sacked one of their staff just to prove the point. In my 37 years experience of working for one company or the other, I must have encountered some 24 bosses, only two of which I deemed really qualified to do their job. Both showed empathy, were straightforward, really listened to you, notwithstanding the pressure they were under. They demanded hard work and guess what: I gladly complied as you were sure to get the rewards. Cheers, Jerry


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