Should You Work for a Jerk?

bad boss

Your coworkers and your boss can have a big impact on how much you enjoy being at work. When you work for a manager who supports you, it certainly makes it easier to enjoy your job. But, most of us will have to deal with a bad boss at some point in our careers.

Who you work for is, at least to some extent, beyond your control. Unfortunately this can lead to some tough decisions.

For example, let’s say you’re interviewing for a job that you’re really excited about — but the person you’d be working for seems like kind of a jerk? Or, what if you love your work, but a difficult coworker has recently been given a leadership role?

The good news is, you don’t have to run screaming from the office. You may be able to work for this challenging boss. It might even be in your best interests. Here are a few points to consider:

1. Sadly, having a bad boss is common

Working for a difficult boss is, unfortunately, a part of life. Almost everyone will have at least one or two bad bosses over the course of their career. In fact, three out of four workers say that their boss is the worst part of their job.

It’s quite common to have some negative feelings about someone you work for from time to time. You’re in good company; it’s something most workers will experience at some point. It would be difficult to steer your career entirely around these individuals. Working with a bad boss is something most people have to go through.

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2. It can get better over time

Be sure to keep in mind that a challenging relationship with a difficult boss can improve over time. Things might start to shift once you’ve worked together for a while and after you’ve established yourself as a trustworthy and highly-capable employee.

For example, one of the keys to workplace happiness is autonomy. Employees want the freedom to do their jobs without someone constantly looking over their shoulder. It can be frustrating and demoralizing to work for a micromanager.

Thankfully, there are some things you can do if you’re being micromanaged. Set up regular meetings to show that you’re willing to keep them in the loop, for example. Over time, and with experience and mutual trust in your corner, you just might be able to gain more autonomy.

3. Sometimes, demanding is good

Some of the toughest bosses also get the best results. Are you worried that this one is too demanding and expects too much? Your boss may always be difficult to please, but you’ll likely learn a great deal from the experience of working together. You’ll be pushed to accomplish more, and that’s a good thing.

Try to focus on what you’re learning as a result of the experience of working for this person. You’re sure to grow professionally during the time you spend with a demanding boss.

4. Some great bosses are Also difficult

The tech industry is famous for asking a lot of workers. Still, many in this field would love to work for companies like Amazon or Apple. Working hard, in and of itself, isn’t a bad thing. This is especially true if you’re going through a period in your life where you’re thrilled to throw yourself into your work.

Some of the most famous bosses, like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, aren’t exactly easy to work for, but roles in their organizations are still coveted and sought after. Bosses who are geniuses at what they do might make your work-life super exciting, though not exactly pleasant. Steve Jobs, for example, was a difficult boss. Working for him wasn’t easy, but it was still an incredible professional experience.

5. It’ll make you a better leader

You can learn a lot about what kind of leader you want to be from being in the working world. A difficult boss will probably teach you more about what you don’t want to do than about what works. But, that’s valuable, too.

Take some specific mental notes about what it’s like to work for this person. Think about why certain behaviors, attitudes, or practices rub you the wrong way. Then, try applying some of this wisdom to your own professional interactions. You can learn a lot about what works, and what doesn’t, from working for a difficult boss. Ultimately, it can help you to be a better leader.

Tell Us What You Think

Is your boss a bit of a jerk? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.