Nothing gets people more stirred up than to ask them about a bad boss. They love to share stories of how a boss is rude, egotistical and selfish.
Believe me, I've heard lots (LOTS) of these stories over the many years I've covered the workplace as a journalist, and have even shared a few bad boss stories of my own.
But I have been reminded by people who are bosses that they also get treated badly. Not by their bosses -- but by their employees.
That's right. There are a**hole employees out there, and it's time we recognized that they exhibit the kind of behavior that we condemn in bosses.
Here are some signs you're a jerk employee:
- You forget your manners. When it comes to your co-workers, you always say "please" and "thank you" and ask how their kids/pets/partners are doing. When a colleague is sniffling with a cold, you bring over a cup of hot tea. But you never do the same for the boss. You're not even sure if he has a dog, or if that cast on his foot means something is wrong. Bosses are people, too. You don't have to get all up in his private business, but why be impolite and uncaring?
- You push boundaries. Most bosses welcome employees who propose new ideas or procedures, looking for ways to be more innovative or productive. But when your requests benefit only yourself, then you put the boss in a bad position. When you ask to be excluded from rules that others must follow or just ignore them, then you are behaving like a jerk.
- You're unprepared. Whether it's showing up to a meeting without relevant research or deciding to just "wing it" with a new client, you're showing disrespect for your boss and the company. Such sloppy behavior almost always spills over to affect other colleagues, and that puts the boss in an even worse position.
- You whine. This isn't the occasional kind of complaint about having to rewrite a report for a difficult client. This is whining about the kind of things that bosses shouldn't have to hear about, such as "I hate Marsha in the mail room. She's so mean," or "I really don't like the summers here. I wish we could move farther north. That way I could also ski more during the winter."
- You're ungrateful. Remember the time your boss arranged it so you could leave early every Thursday to get your daughter to dance class? Or, when he intervened when his boss was so angry about your handling of a big client? What about the time he put in a good word for your son so he could get a job at the local coffee shop? Did you say more than a simple, "thanks" and perhaps buy him a latte? Or, offer to stay late to help him finish an important report? If not, you might want to think about how you would feel is someone did the same to you.
Not all bosses are ogres. Maybe it's time to stop assuming that bosses don't have feelings, or don't need a kind word or helping hand. Before you claim all bosses are a**holes, remember that all employees aren't angels.