Top 10 Reasons Your Boss is a Jerk (+ What to Do About It)

Today I want to talk with you all about the top 10 signs that your boss is a jerk, and the ways you can try to deal with it. Now, these aren’t in any special order, everything on this list is bad. But there is a reason I’ve put number 1 at number 1, which you’ll see when we get there. Let’s begin the countdown!

Number 10: Hostile environment

Your boss is a jerk if… they contribute to a hostile environment. This could include sexual harassment, hitting on you, making you uncomfortable, or it could be that they’re pitting your colleagues against each other and making the environment into a survival of the fittest situation.

What you can do about it… is to try your best to work against it and make your environment better and more friendly with your own actions. Try to treat your colleagues with respect and help them out and set the tone that way. You could try to talk to your boss about their own behavior, but that’s up for you to decide if you think it’ll be worth it.

Number 9: No resources provided

Your boss is a jerk if… they don’t provide you with resources for you to do your job better. I remember at the first job I got right out of college, I was told by my boss that they were going to train me and give me everything I needed to succeed. They did have some training, but it really wasn’t anything like how they sold it to me. And that made me realize that you should always assume you’re going to be left on your own to figure things out from beginning to end. That’s not how it should be, it should be a team effort to get things going and help you transition into the job. But some bosses are like that.

What you can do about it… is ask them for help. In fact, before you even ask your boss, you can try to get information from your colleagues. Some of them will want to help, some of them won’t, but try to get help from them. And then if you still need more training and help, don’t be afraid to go to your boss and ask. And document everything so you can always defend your efforts. Of course, I say all of this with the assumption you are already doing your best/own research but need more intel.

Don’t be afraid to ask your boss and colleagues for help. Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels.

Number 8: No support for promotions

Your boss is a jerk if… they don’t go to bat for you for promotions or advancement. If you do your work really well and in the long run you’re not getting promoted or acknowledged in any way, that’s a problem.

What you can do about it… is talk to your boss. I know it might seem uncomfortable but there’s really no way around it. Again, document to keep a record of the things you’ve done that set you apart from the others. Verbally explain what you’ve done and why it has value. You must make it easy for your boss to see & understand what you’re bringing to the table especially if they don’t readily witness your work. You need to be your own lawyer to build and present that case if requesting a promotion. In might be in your best interest to do this after a positive review or midway before a review. I discuss reviews later. If your boss has to work with another exec or their boss in order to get you promoted, that’s actually a good thing, because then you can come to your boss and offer to approach that higher-up individual together with you defending your work. Most likely, they’ll want to handle this on their own but you can arm them with enough info regarding the value you’ve provided (projects completed/ideas presented/quotas met, etc) so it’s easier on them to get you promoted. Remember, having a boss is always about making their life easier.

Number 7: Can’t recognize good work & doesn’t try to

Your boss is a jerk if… they don’t acknowledge the good work that you do. Now, this is similar to what we just talked about in number 8, but that one was more that they don’t have your back when it comes time to giving you a promotion or raise. This one is that they just don’t recognize good work and make no effort to understand.

What you can do about it… is keep a note of it. Did you present great ideas that were passed on and the company paid a price for it? Did you build products/systems to increase efficiency but they weren’t taken seriously. Did you suggest better solutions for problems but were ignored. Keep a record in case you need to defend the work that was passed on that you proposed. If your boss can’t see your vision right away, all you can really do is an earnest attempt to clearly explain why what you did/want to do is beneficial. But if the boss’s brain is too dense & just doesn’t “get it”, and this is a recurring thing where you can’t do your best work in your environment and it’s preventing you/your career from excelling, you might have to look elsewhere. Of course, be confident you are correct and that you’re not letting your ego ignore your boss’s experience if they have valid reasons for passing on your work.

A good boss will acknowledge the good work that you do. Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels.

Number 6: They hide their ignorance

Your boss is a jerk if… they hide their ignorance. I can’t stand bosses that don’t know what they’re talking about but insist on acting as they do. There’s something to be said for confidence, but if you don’t know something it’s okay to admit it and then work with your team to figure it out, even if you’re the boss. Most team members would respect that. But when they don’t know something and they try to hide it, that’s a red flag, because it’s a form of lying.

What you can do about it… is keep a note of it. Again this isn’t something you really need to confront them about, that’s probably not going to help the situation. Some of these problems, like this one, don’t have pure solutions, but they’re things you’re going to want to be paying attention to. If it happens often, it’s a problem, and it’s not an environment you’re going to want to stay in forever.

Number 5: They lie

Your boss is a jerk if… they are dishonest. This is similar to number 6 but with number 6 the boss is usually trying to save face or seem smarter than they are. But there are also some bosses who will just straight-up lie to you about a variety of topics when there’s no reason to.

What you can do about it… is keep a note of it. Again this is just something you’ll want to pay attention to. If you catch your boss in a lie, then that says something about the environment you’re working in and you don’t want to overlook that.

Honesty is an important quality in a boss. Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels.

Number 4: Preferential treatment to others

Your boss is a jerk if… they give preferential treatment to other colleagues. Now, this is a slightly tricky one because sometimes they’re just friendlier with another colleague than they are with you, and there could be several reasons for that. It could be that the other colleague has been there for longer and therefore they’re more comfortable with each other. But it could be that maybe the other colleague is doing their job better than you are. And I think it’s fair to ask yourself that question and up your game if necessary. But if there’s really no clear reason and it’s really blatant unequal treatment, then that’s a problem. I remember that at this one job, I had a colleague who really kissed up to the boss and told the dumbest jokes and she loved it. It was ridiculous, it felt like a parody honestly. And he would play pranks on other colleagues, including me, and she thought it was hilarious. But I didn’t think it was so funny because I had just gotten there and so I didn’t feel comfortable retaliating because I didn’t know what the repercussions might be. So I felt like she definitely gave him preferential treatment for no good reason.

What you can do about it… is don’t let it get to you. Don’t try to kiss up to your boss, be yourself and if they don’t appreciate you, that’s on them. You might be able to call them out on their preferential treatment, but at the same time, it might be tricky, so that’s a judgment call for you to make for yourself. And ultimately, you may just need to get out of that situation. Actually, in some ways, I am thankful for this specific boss of mine because if she hadn’t been a jerk, I might’ve gotten too comfortable and not made the moves I needed to make for my career. So, sometimes a bad experience can actually be good.

Number 3: They don’t check in with you before reviews

Your boss is a jerk if… they don’t check in with you before negative reviews. Reviews are basically like report cards for adults. And just like it was awful to get a bad report card as a kid, it’s awful to have a bad review session where you’re hearing all this negative feedback out of the blue. The main difference though is as a kid, you usually know if your report card was going to be bad if you failed some tests. In corporate America, tests aren’t always so clear sometimes. And if your boss isn’t happy with your work but says nothing except during a review, that’s not good. If they were a good boss, they would bring it up the first time they had an issue with you so you could correct it. But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.

What you can do about it… is take the initiative to check in with your boss. It shouldn’t be up to you to do this, but unfortunately a lot of times it will be. You need to take your boss aside sometime before your review and get some feedback so that you can try to improve. So, if you know your review is in six months, you could talk to them three months down the line and go from there. Or you could even do it twice before the review, like every two months. I think more than twice would be a little much. But you could take them aside after two months, then after four months, and then by the time the six-month mark comes along and it’s time for your review, you’ll have hopefully fixed all the issues they brought up.

Checking in with your boss to get feedback can help you avoid a surprise bad review. Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels.

Number 2: They are not respectful to you

Your boss is a jerk if… they’re not respectful to you. Now, there are some environments where it’s normal for bosses to curse at their employees and stuff like that. Out here in Hollywood, if you’re working at a talent agency, that’s the norm and it’s not considered a big deal. But if you’re working as an accountant at some corporation in Tennessee, that might not be so normal. So, whatever environment you’re in, you need to look at what the norm is for that environment, and then you need to figure out if you’re being disrespected.

is respectfully call them out on it. And if it’s a boss you’re afraid to call out because you think they might retaliate, then it’s time to get out of there. Just like an old colleague of mine used to say: we gotta go out on the streets, make our moves, find better opportunities, and get out. Don’t put up with four, five years of abuse in a hostile environment where they’re talking down to you or being cruel or disrespectful. Never waste time. Always be at a job where you know you’re being valued.

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the last thing, the number 1 item that makes your boss a jerk, that tops everything else, is:

Number 1: They don’t listen to you!!!

Your boss is a jerk if… they don’t listen to you. That’s right, this would top even something like number 10 where it’s a hostile work environment or sexual harassment. Because, in that situation, you can try to bring it up to get it fixed. And if they ignore you, that’s the real issue, that’s the number one problem. They don’t listen to you and they’re not addressing your concern. You don’t ever want to be in an environment where you’re not being heard. And I’m not talking about being in a meeting and offering some advice that they don’t take. I mean when there’s a serious problem and it needs to be fixed and they don’t even care to acknowledge it. Or worse, they say they’ll acknowledge it, but then their actions aren’t consistent with that.

What you can do about it… is go out on the streets, find a better job, make your moves, and be out! There’s nothing you can try with this kind of boss because the whole problem is that they don’t listen to you and they don’t care about your concerns. That’s why it’s number 1 on this list, because there’s no way to fix it other than getting all the way out of Dodge.

And those are the top 10 reasons your boss is a jerk, and how you can try to handle those problems. I know that for those of you who are currently dealing with any of these situations, it might seem like it’s only happening to you, but remember, they happen to a lot of people — daily. Know you’re not alone and that there are ways to handle the situation you’re in.

A denouement…

Before ending, I want to point out the fact the there were several times I didn’t mention a direct solution but to “take a note” of the issue. Documentation is king when you need to defend yourself be it for jockeying for promoting or filing complaints or simply protecting yourself in the corporate world. Words on paper count way more than verbally uttered. Make it a habit to privately document your experiences. You’ll thank yourself.

Also few times I eluded to quitting but understand, I don’t advocate quitting for any little imperfection in management. Few jobs are perfect. It only makes sense to leave based on your personal situation and the aggregate of issues you’re experiencing with your job/boss. Bosses are people and like anyone else — they can be flawed. Sounds obvious to say but I think many of us in the back of our minds expect more of them because of their title. But if you remember that bosses can & most likely will have issues like anyone else, it’s a bit easier to deal with. It’s a bit easier to not be offended by their shortcomings. It’s okay.

Having said all this, if your boss doesn’t have any of these issues or any big flaw, appreciate the hell out of them.

Video version of this article can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6tjlDyWRfDo.