Work for a Jerk and Succeed Anyway!
By John McKee
How to Navigate around Bosses Behaving Badly
We’ve all seen ‘em – those self-absorbed, arrogant, sarcastic, and credit-hoarding managers that, as you read this, are getting under the skin of subordinates from coast to coast.
So, outside of telling the Jerk to “take this job and shove it” (no matter how satisfying the fantasy), what can one do to keep his/her career on a growth track despite – or in spite of – the narcissist they report to? Here are a few tips:
• Take stock. Someone in this position should ask themselves if they have a clear idea of what really makes them happy. If they don’t, a Personal Action Plan will help lay out a roadmap of where they are, where they are going, and where they need to be for self-fulfillment.
• Understand the “circle of success.” It’s advisable to spend a measurable amount of time ensuring the boss looks good – however deserved, or not. When (s)he understands that you are able to help her/him succeed, you and your team will get more time, positive attention, and resources facilitating your own productivity.
• “Presence” pays. Sharks smell blood. Dogs sense weakness. So do bad bosses. Carry yourself with your best posture and wear attire that imparts your professional stature, abilities and success. If the boss knows you are easily intimidated, you might as well wear a target on your chest.
• Pace your boss. Let your boss see that you share the same work ethic, and you might just end up on his/her good side – however shallow that may be. Simply put, if your boss is at work, you should be as well. If (s)he has decided that it's necessary to be there after hours, on weekends, or early in the morning, it is entirely to your advantage to be there at the same time.
• Circumnavigate. It is imperative that those who are in the position to benefit your career in any way above and/or lateral to your boss know who you are and what you’ve accomplished. Letting others know about your successes will make you a hot commodity for promotions OUT from under the appalling administrator. If done properly, it will not be construed as bragging or conceit and may win your parole in short order.
• Fish or cut bait. Consider having a private one-on-one dialogue with the boss to discuss what can be done to better satisfy both his/her needs as well as that of the company and, if reasonable, try to provide that satisfaction. Doing so may help you better emotionally connect with management at large.
• Hunting season. If all else fails and one simply cannot muster the emotional strength to deal with the sinister superior, it’s time to spit shine the resume. Use this time as an opportunity to re-focus and finetune your career path to assure you’re heading in the best direction both professionally and personally.
The cold, hard truth is that psychotic bosses, and even psychotic organizations, do exist. The workplace is not a controlled environment in that there are many personalities, politics, and other office culture landmines to navigate. The key is to know how to effectively identify and anticipate a malicious manager’s ‘triggers’ and, subsequently, manipulate each problem situation as it arises to your ultimate advantage.
John McKee, a certified business and executive coach and author of 21 Ways Women in Management Shoot Themselves in the Foot, is the expert and visionary behind BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an online destination for professionals who aspire to maximize their success in business. He can be reached through his web sites at www.bscnetwork.com and www.businesswomanweb.com.