Supervisory Leadership

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What should you do if you work for a jerk?

There's a lot of standard advice on what to do if you work for a jerk. Let me try to add something different to the mix.

Take a step back and figure out if your boss is really a jerk. Once a person gets the jerk tag in a workplace, other folks tend to apply it without thinking.

Decide what you can do to help your boss. Part of your job, even when you work for a jerk is to help your boss succeed.

A good strategy in most career situations is to build on strength. What strengths does your boss have? What do you have? How can you build on those while making everyone's weaknesses irrelevant?

There's an Arab saying to "Trust in Allah, but tether your camel." When you work for a jerk, you need to have faith that others will recognize your good work. But you also need to keep records, share information and remind folks.

Keep your network working. If you're going to get out of this spot, the odds are it won't be without help. And be careful of trashing the boss to others, it almost always comes back to bite you.

I think you always have to consider quitting as an option. Figure out if the organization you work for is a place where jerks grow and thrive. If it is, it's time to start planning to more to a newer, better environment.


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