Love the Job, Hate the Boss: Finding Career Success Working for a Jerk

Sometimes the job can be great – wonderful company, good team mates, terrific salary – but the boss is not. So how can you still find career success?

Most people are seeking career success just like Elizabeth. Early in her career, she worked for a woman that coworkers had nicknamed the Dragon Lady. She didn’t know it at the time she accepted her position as marketing coordinator for the small clothing manufacturer, but she found out soon enough.

It wasn’t long before the Dragon Lady fired her third assistant in two years and began dumping the extra work on Elizabeth. What transpired next surprised everyone — including Elizabeth.

Taking on the extra workload actually gave Elizabeth a leg-up on her coworkers by showing that she was flexible, adaptable and a team player. Serving in two functions also provided more access to her boss giving Elizabeth a rare opportunity to be truly involved.

The more the Dragon Lady began to rely on Elizabeth – for everything – the better the relationship became. While she was still a very difficult person to work with, the three years that Elizabeth spent at the company really helped her learn a lot and made a great deal of difference when the next position came along. Plus she was able to add her boss as a future employment reference.

Since survey information shows that 70 to 80 percent of employees who respond feel they work for a bad boss, it means most people feel they are working for a jerk. That could mean there’s no place to run. And although someone’s relationship with their boss does influence how they feel about their job, sometimes they can really like what they’re doing, but just not who they’re doing it for.

When this happens, it’s about making choices. Here are five ways on how to find career success working for a jerk:

Learn Everything

Sometimes it’s easy to become frustrated and get sucked into the game by trying to match wits with the boss. The best strategy for employees to use is to continue to act professional and to do their job to the best of their abilities while they learn everything they can – including how NOT to manage others. In fact, employees may actually find that by actively seeking to learn from the boss he feels flattered and the relationship improves.

Make the Boss Look Good

By focusing on the boss’s needs and excelling at work and time management skills, employees not only do their job, they do it well, which reflects positively on their manager. Since often times a weak manager is that way because he is insecure, knowing he can count on his team is imperative and may help the situation.

Find a Supportive Outlet

Don’t bad mouth the boss to coworkers – word can get around. Instead, look for support and recognition from coworkers or a mentor. Volunteer for cross-functional assignments in order to interact with other employees in the company and garner team recognition. It’s important to stay visible.

Get Promoted

While it is always wise for employees to network with other departments in order to broaden their business acumen, keeping on top of the happenings outside their department also means they will be aware of other job opportunities. In addition, be sure to document successes and accomplishments for future bosses.

Confront the Boss

Ask about scheduling time to discuss the situation in a cool, calm, rational manner. According to an article from Careerbuilder one employee — inherited through an acquisition — realized his boss didn’t want him so he confronted him. The boss was honest about his feelings and the employee was able to negotiate a good severance package.

And if all else fails, be sure to keep an updated resume handy in case the ultimate conclusion becomes it’s time to move on.