Have you experienced the jerk at work? The jerk is not easy to spot physically, but their presence is bigger than life just through every day interaction. The jerk can be an executive or a worker bee. The jerk can target one person, a department or an organization. Their tactics can be subtle or very obvious, but both are equally destructive.
Jerks appear to others to be hard workers or game changers and have a strong personality, but in reality, they are struggling with the typical middle school behavior of putting others down or undermining others to boost themselves into the limelight. You would think it would be easy to spot and take action to stop a jerk, but those who have experienced it know differently.
The jerk targets innocent coworkers they think may be of threat to their position or to personal success or those they feel they can’t manipulate. Jerks, who are often title chasers, steadily move up the management ranks by leaving a destructive path of psychologically wounded coworkers behind. The company can often resemble a virtual war zone as they move up the corporate ladder.
My personal experience is with the Subtle Jerk – the worst kind. The Jerk, over several months’ time, undermined my hard work efforts, continuously questioned my skill set and convinced others to question and doubt my abilities. The war game had begun. I was a target and the teardown tactics in motion. Over time, I started to doubt myself, which is the power of the jerk and their persuasive game. As I fell lower, they soared higher. I shared my experience with coworkers, and their reactions ranged from empathy and complete understanding to cocking their heads and saying, ‘Are you sure you aren’t just making more out of the situation?’ – Psychological warfare at its best.
My defense tactic unfolded. I persevered, it was hard, but I kept doing my best work. A different department within the company knew of my talents and work ethics and moved me out of the path of the jerk. They saw through the game.
How do you know there may be a problem?
Be observant of your trusted and long time workers who have proven their competencies. When the smartest people in your organization clam up, you have a serious problem. Even worse, when smart people start leaving the company, you are in real trouble. Don’t let this happen. Be observant and if the company’s trusted and brightest are getting quiet, identify the jerk and deal with them fast.
If you are one of the trusted, A-players and are not in a position to deal with the jerk, do what your intuition is telling you and leave!