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6 Things Not to Do When Your Boss is a Jerk

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Bad bosses. Chances are good that at least once in each of our careers we are challenged with working for a bad boss. These bosses are bad for our careers, our health and our work-life balance. Unfortunately, bad bosses are just part of the real world and we have to find a way to make it work.

The question is: how?

Several times each year, we are hired to be an Executive Coach to leaders who identify their boss as the main cause of their problems at work. More specifically, if their boss was a better leader who did what they felt needed to be done, they themselves would be a better manager or leader.

Specific examples we have heard are that their boss:

          Is a micro-manager
          Is not trustworthy or doesn’t keep promises
          Gave a poor rating on the employee’s performance review
          Gave no raise, or not enough of a raise
          Does not stand behind decisions made by employees
          Is moody
          Is a “know it all” and does not listen
          Has questionable ethics
            Is disrespectful

      What if you work with a boss that does one of these bad behaviors? Worse, what if you work with a boss who does all these behaviors…a real jerk?

      For those who know us, what we are about to write is going to seem contrarian, or at the minimum, controversial. So let us start off by reminding you of the mission of our company and everything we do. Our passion, here at Peter Barron Stark Companies, is to create an environment where employees love coming to work and customers love doing business.

      With that said, here it goes: when it comes to bad bosses, sometimes you just have to deal with it and learn how to make it work. Unfortunately in life we are not given the divine right to have a good or great boss.

      Obviously, if a manager is practicing the behaviors listed above, that is not in alignment with creating an ideal work environment and more than likely will create an environment where the employee mantra becomes…I don’t get paid enough to put up with this. So the big question becomes…if you are an employee who works for this boss, what should you do…and more importantly what should you not do?

      First, what does not work? It has been our experience that the employees who exhibit the behaviors listed below tend to be fired or managed out of the organization. If that is your goal, here is your prescription for success:

      1. Go head-to-head with your boss in defiance of your boss’ directives and goals. Unless your boss is weak and has zero clout in the organization, this is not a healthy choice for long-term job security.

      2. Bypass your boss and go directly to your bosses’ boss or Human Resources with your concerns. It is almost always better to go to your boss first and honestly share your concerns.

      3. Speak negatively about your boss to co-workers or other leaders in the organization.

      4. Post nasty things about your boss in an email, your Facebook profile or some other electronic form of communication.

      5. Repeatedly complain to your boss about topics you feel they have not addressed: your workload; specific projects; other team members; your wages; your lack of a promotion.

      6. Tell your boss they are a micro-manager or some other piece of non-descript feedback conveying your displeasure with their leadership skills.

      Each of these behaviors provide a fast-track for employees being fired or managed out of the organization. Indirectly or directly, in each of the above six examples, the employee thinks they are smarter or better than their boss. Although it may be true, the truth may actually lead you further away from your own goal.

      Recently, my twenty year old son, Barron, called me and told me he was going to drop his English class. When I asked him why, he told me that he had an awful professor. I responded, “Barron, the reason they give you bad professors in college is to help prepare for bad bosses when you get a job.” At work, you do not get to pick your boss. It becomes your job to learn to deal with all types of leaders in all types of organizations. Wouldn’t it be great if one of your God given rights was to be given a GREAT leader?

      Instead of feeling as if you are at the mercy of defective leadership, take charge and use tactics that will help your situation.

      So, what does work when you have a bad boss?

      1. Address this question: Is it just possible that it might be me who is the problem? Unfortunately, when you blame others about a situation you are in, it deflects all responsibility away from you to take ownership to personally change. A few things to remember: your boss is most likely smarter than you think; your boss was smart enough to hire you; plus someone higher up in the organization thinks your boss adds value.

      2. Provide honest, constructive feedback. If you have concerns about your boss, share it with him/her in a format where you can tell your boss what you really like about him/her and your job, and provide really specific feedback about what you would like to see changed. Some tough bosses actually appreciate honest feedback.

      3. Be patient. If the boss is really that bad, most likely someone else in the organization is going to notice and/or speak up. You know them…there is always someone who can’t keep their mouth shut. Better them than you.

      4. Exercise your choices. If your boss is that bad, it would be our recommendation that you move to another area of your organization or to another company. If you are ever going to move, it is better when it is your choice.

      5. Produce Great Results. You maximize your options and opportunities when you build a personal reputation in the organization of someone who produces great work and is an awesome team member.

      Do you deserve a great boss? When you don’t get one…figure out how to make it successfully work or build a strategy with one of the above options because most people who decide to go toe-to-toe with the boss…LOSE!



      Peter Barron Stark is a consultant, speaker, and author. His consulting firm, the Peter Barron Stark Companies, has attracted clients such as the NFL, Aetna, Federal Reserve Bank, Rady Children’s Hospital, SONY, VANS, Sempra Energy, St. Johns Knits, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, Blackboard Connect, MetLife, Qualcomm, WD-40, Farmers Insurance, and over 200 other leading organizations.

      His speaking repertoire includes an impressive lineup of programs in the areas of employee engagement, leadership, leading change, customer service, and negotiation skills. His firm is also a leader in employee opinion surveys, executive coaching and leadership/employee training. Peter is one of only a handful of speakers to hold the prestigious dual designation of Accredited Speaker from Toastmaster’s International and the Certified Speaking Professional from the National Speaker’s Association.

      He has been published worldwide in over 300 articles and has written nine books including his newest book, The Only Leadership Book You’ll Ever Need. Peter’s expertise has been featured by American Executive, Investor’s Business Daily, The New York Times, CNN, Bloomberg, and USA Today.

      Peter’s career takes him around the world as he helps leaders build organizations where employees love to come to work and customers love to do business.

      Contact Peter -

      11417 West Bernardo Court
      San Diego, CA 92127
      (858) 451-3601

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      Growth in women's share of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) occupations declined to 27% in 2011from a high of 34% in 1990. While women make up nearly half of the workforce, they were 26% of the STEM workforce in 2011.

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