How to Survive When Your Boss Is a Jerk

jerk boss


We've all worked for a jerk at least once in our lives. Some of us are working for one now, while others have managed to escape, but have all sorts of horror stories to tell. From flaunting their authority to sexual harassment to taking all the credit for the work other people do, bad bosses can really make life difficult on their employees.

Things may seem hopeless while working under the heavy hand of a horrible boss, but there are a handful of tactics that can be used to ease the pain. Call off the overpriced team of ninja assassins you just hired and try these things first. If they don't work, you can always rehire the assassins. 

Let the Little Stuff Go

When you hate your boss with a passion, every little thing he or she does or says will drive you up a wall. Small things you'd normally let go will make your skin crawl and you'll be consumed by anger every time your boss talks. If this describes the way you feel right now, it's time to take a step back and reassess your feelings. Sure, you can't stand your boss, but is your dislike of the way he or she treats you really worth the extra stress and being miserable all the time. 

Let the little stuff roll off your shoulders and try not to let it affect you. If you're grumpy all the time, the only one who's going to suffer is you and your boss and his superiors will take notice. Try to smile in the face of diversity and, in the words of every kid who's seen the Disney movie Frozen, "Let it go...Let it go!"

Take Control of the Situation

It may feel like you're powerless when an overbearing boss is making your life miserable, but there are certain things you have ultimate control over. For one, you control your emotions and have the final say in how your boss makes you feel. You also have ultimate control over what you allow your boss to do to you.

If you're working for a boss who is doing something illegal or is making you feel uncomfortable in the workplace, let him or her know how you feel. If nothing changes, take it further up the chain of command. This tactic should be saved for the big stuff like sexual harassment and blatant breaking of the rules (or the law). Upper management isn't going to want to hear how you feel like you're overworked because your boss asked you to help out on a project you think he could have finished himself, but they'll likely be very interested in hearing about a manager who's asking employees to cover up illegal activities that could get him and/or the company in deep trouble. 

Prove Your Worth

When faced with a boss who takes credit for everything you do, it may feel like you're never going to get noticed. Don't allow this to kill your desire to do good work and let it affect your production. Instead, work harder and continue doing the things you need to do to get ahead. Upper management will eventually take notice of the work you're doing and they may even realize your boss isn't living up to his end of the bargain.

I once worked for a boss who handed off all of his work to me. I did his work and my work for a couple years, while learning his job inside and out. The boss got in trouble and ended up getting fired and I sat down with management and made a great case as to why I should be hired to take over the vacant position. Management agreed and I went from being a 23-year old worker being paid minimum wage to being the boss and making three times that overnight. 

Wait It Out

This one's a tough one because you could spend years working a dead-end job under the auspices of a boss you hate. If there's a clear path for promotion for you or your boss and you're pretty sure you won't be working for him or her forever, you may be able to wait a bad boss out.

Once the boss (or you) is promoted, you'll have a new boss and things might get better. Then again, they might not...Certain companies create a culture of distrust and anger and seem to be a breeding ground for bad bosses. Make sure you know what you're in for if your boss gets promoted or you transfer to a different department. You might come to realize the boss you had previously isn't as bad as you thought. 

Do Something About It

I hear from people all the time who hate their jobs. They've often been working there for 5, 10, 15 or even 20 years or longer and have hated every minute of it. When I ask why they haven't looked for another job, I'm usually met with a blank stare or hear the excuse, "I've been there a long time. I'm comfortable there."

If you're truly comfortable at your job, stop bitching about your boss. If you hate it as much as you say you do, start looking for another job. The nice thing about looking for a job when you already have one is you have the luxury of searching until you find a good fit for your skills. If you don't think there's a good fit out there, it may be time to update your skill set. A few courses at the local community college or a trade school can work wonders.