This morning’s Wall Street Journal gives us a psychotherapy session as to the wide variety of office jerks and why they behave the way they do. As expected, it all traces back to childhood trauma of one sort or another.
According to the WSJ, “Amid a growing focus on workplace quality, some managers and coaches are now using new techniques to identify the childhood origins of harmful behavior at work and then rout out those patterns through training or outright bans on bad behavior.”
Office jerks are typically common bullies and nimrods. They might be the passive/agressive type jerk – the smiley, happy jerk who always says the right things, but are sharpening their knives at the same time.
Then there’s the type of jerk who yells a lot and simply disrupts the office with a constant environment of fear and unhappiness.
My favorite is the mighty martyr/victim jerk. You can’t miss ’em! They are the ones who spend more time moaning about the work they are supposed to be doing then actually getting the work completed. They also make it known quite regularly that the company/department only exists because of their ‘talent’ and will whine to anyone who will listen as to why they didn’t get a promotion or a raise.
And of course, there’s the incompetent office jerk, also many times called ‘the boss’ by the martyr/victim jerk.
In addition, I’ve had bosses who hired jerks as part of their leadership strategy. These are the high level kamakazi jerks who aren’t afraid to insult, step on toes, piss people off, make people cry, make unpopular decisions all while the boss can be ‘good cop’ and not worry about looking like a jerk. I’ve seen this strategy actually work before with high profile leaders.
Me thinks that office jerks exist because we allow them to exist with no accountability. If no one stands up to their bullying, terrorizing and general bad attitudes, they believe their behaviour is completely acceptable.