Your boss is a jerk, right? He takes credit for your work, interrupts you when you speak, doesn’t include you on important meetings, frustrates any attempt to improve process and doesn’t keep his promises. You can’t do your best work and you go home each night feeling diminished. Solution? Quit your job.
It’s not a secret. Or should you? Chances are, if you know your boss is a jerk, others do too. Namely, his boss and his boss’s peers. It is difficult for hiring managers to admit they made a mistake when someone they hired or promoted turns out to be a jerk. There may be unknown-to-you efforts to correct the jerk’s behavior.
Perhaps Senior Management is quietly looking for his replacement. Do you see signs his workload is shifting? Chances are, that’s because someone upstairs knows about the jerk and is preparing the organization for a change.
Sometimes, it is wise not to kill your camel in the middle of the desert– unless he starts drinking your water. Which means, all you have to do is wait until there is an oasis in sight and the jerk will be gone.
What doesn’t work. What you do not want to do is take your concerns to Human Resources. While every HR professional who reads this will scream in outrage, experience tells me HR’s job is to protect upper management. Your bozo issues, whatever they are, become yours to solve and no corrective action will be taken to improve the jerk’s behaviors. Or worse, you are now targeted as a complainer.
The awkward solution is to work around the bozo and continue to do your best work. Don’t complain, gossip or compare notes about the bozo. There is no good that ever comes of sharing your angst with colleagues even when they initiate the conversation. I know of a recent situation where such complaints were taken, verbatim, to the bozo in question and the person who trusted his colleague was fired on the spot.
How long is enough time for the bozo to get found out and removed? How well is your work-around going? How long before the current critical program is finished? How long can you keep your feelings to yourself?
Rarely does a bozo last for more than a year. Can you wait? Is the company and position excellent for your career minus the bozo? Then stick it out and keep your head down.
UNLESS, there is a Double-bozo effect. If your boss’s boss is also a bozo, there isn’t much you can do. It is best to gather your marbles and find a better game. When you interview and are asked why you want to leave, you mention what you are going towards, not away from. Never complain to a future employer about your current management, even if they bring it up.
The focus of your interview is on the contributions you can make to the new organization, not the gossip and chatter about bad bosses, and make no mistake, everyone has had at least one. Human nature means you are now perceived as ‘less than’ if you couldn’t get along with your boss, no matter how much of a bozo he was. And if your boss was a woman, you are tainted with your own brush. So hush.
Ask yourself, what can I learn from the double bozo effect? When you interview for your next job, what questions will you ask or observations will you make to ascertain the absences of bozo’s? Your career aspirations demand continuity in your resume. If you change jobs every 18 months or so, employers wonder if you make bad decisions. Use your experience with the Double-bozo effect as teaching moment.