General Question

minolta's avatar

Is it an advantage for a boss to be a jerk to his workers, rather than being friendly?

Asked by minolta (328points) June 17th, 2009

which one do you prefer? being nice and friendly with the people you work with, or being a straight ass so you can feel and act more powerful, to gain some kind of upper hand..

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15 Answers

Bluefreedom's avatar

I have had previous supervisors in my chain-of-command (I’m in the military) that weren’t very personable, had questionable leadership skills, and basically alienated subordinates. This is very counterproductive behavior in an environment where teamwork is highly stressed and relied on from everyone in the workplace. I cannot see any practical benefits of a boss or supervisor being a jerk to his employees and degrading the morale and work ethics of others in the process.

I am a Flight Sergeant and Squad Leader in my unit and I currently supervise 5 full time employees and am responsible for 9 traditional guardsmen one weekend every month. I make a concerted effort to touch base with all my subordinates whenever I can and I maintain a healthy level of communication with everyone I work with. I am fair but firm regarding discipline and I’m also receptive to all ideas and suggestions from my people. We have a great working relationship and it makes my job so much easier when things run smoothly which, fortunately for me, is most of the time.

Simply put, a friendly but professional relationship between a boss and his employees is much more productive and harmonious than someone acting the jerk toward his subordinates which will always lead to headaches, loss of morale and work output, and general dissension in the work environment. At least this is what I’ve witnessed and experienced.

SirBailey's avatar

As a boss, you are paid to get a job done. Period. You’re not being paid to make “friends”. Besides, it’s next to impossible to be a friend to your employees – you can break your back for some of them and they STILL don’t appreciate it. If all of your employees always worked hard and did the right thing, that would be one thing. If all your employees never had disagreements with each other, then MAYBE you could be a friend. Maybe the employees you have would NEVER take advantage of your friendship. Then it’s possible. But good luck finding employees like that. And remember, the boss probably has his OWN boss, who makes the workloads and deadlines. It’s your immediate boss that has to get it done. Show me a boss that’s well liked by his staff and I’ll show you a boss that’s overstaffed.

But the alternative does NOT mean the boss has to be a jerk.

oratio's avatar

I believe there are cultural differences between countries as well. Some countries have a very hierarchal culture, some countries a very flat company structure where you have a lot of independence. You don’t have to be pals, but in my experience, people need to have a good relationship with the employers or bosses in order to do a good job.

CMaz's avatar

I am a boss, and I am as friendly as possible. I would consider my co-workers “friends”.
But, there are things that a boss needs to do and decisions that they need to make that do not need to be or can be explained to the employees. This sometimes translates to being a “jerk”.
We as bosses are accountable for everything. As the saying goes, shit floats to the top. Being at the top we prefer to navigate through as little “shit” as possible.
It is not personal, it is business. Don’t take it personal.
To put it simply. If you do something wrong, or I do something wrong. I get the heat.

SecondGlance's avatar

I’ve had bosses who were such considerate and decent people that I’d bend over backwards to make sure my work was done. And to make sure they stood in good light to their own superiors. They’d reprimand me if I screwed up, but that was appropriate since they were my boss.

On the other hand, I’ve had bosses that were such jerks that everyone in the place did the bare minimum and made fun of them behind their backs, and the output of work was nowhere what it should have been. I doubt these jerks saw it that way, they probably thought they were in control and were pushing us to do good work! Ha ha, the opposite is what happens in my experience. Jerks, whether they realize it or not, get half-ass results of their employees, and it is so counter-productive.

Lupin's avatar

I’ve been a “boss” for many years.
Great employees – great boss. Friendly, hardworking employees – friendly, hard working boss. Jerk employees – jerk boss. There were usually 20 of them and one of me so they were really in control of the culture.

frankielaguna's avatar

You get more with honey than you do with vinegar..

Same principle..

I prefer friendly… I feel more comfortable and get more done

casheroo's avatar

A boss should be respectful but stern. You can be friendly and not an asshole.
There seems to be a fine line for higher ups. They want to be your friend, but have to do their job. They need to find a medium.

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Didn’t work out too well for this guy.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I’ve never been the boss of anyone in a work situation
I’ve managed some volunteers for singular events and I think I was a firm leader – I often talk about how I would be as a supervisor with my partner, who hated supervising people. I believe that I would expect a lot out of people that work for me, and that I would work a lot myself – therefore I’d be careful to hire (if given the option) hard working, passionate and inspiring people…and if they show they can function, then I will be a great support to them…

Lupin's avatar

I should add that my team was comprised of a brilliant bunch of technical specialists. They knew their areas of expertise and really did not need input from me. I used to say I worked for them. My job was to point them in the same direction and say “Make it so.”
Rarely was there a problem.

wundayatta's avatar

All that matters is that you communicate your goals and expectations and they are highly motivated to achieve these goals. The rest is just tactics.

My feeling is that you hire good people, train them, and set them loose to accomplish the goals in the best way they think they can. I look for people who are excited about solving problems, have the right skill set and love to help others (I’m in the consulting business). If they run into trouble, they come to me, and I help them solve the problem. My job is to set goals, and figure out where we should go.

It is not my job to look over their shoulders, or, for that matter, to be their friend. It is extremely difficult to be friends with someone of a different level in the hierarchy of your organization. They might have to fire you someday, so you can’t be totally open with them. They can’t be totally open with you, either, if the organization doesn’t want them to share certain information with you. It is difficult to trust each other, as friends do, under these circumstances.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

If the boss is being a jackass that’s one thing but sometimes the boss is the boss and has to maintain some level of discipline.

It’s work. Sometimes, someone has to be the bad guy but employees have to and deserve to be treated with respect.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Anyone acting like a jerk is a distraction and cog in the wheel. As far as friendliness goes, being open to the employees isn’t the same as being un naturally friendly/engaging. My best bosses have been those who are open but genuine as much of the time as possible.

jackfright's avatar

i make it a point to tell my subordinates i’m going to be a jerk when i have to break bad news or make a call that will hurt someone. drawing this line clearly often helps soften negative feelings when you risk coming across as having made a subjective decision. i also always make it a point to explain the rationale behind my decisions if they ask even if they don’t agree with it.

normally though, i try to be a firm friend, and support the team by providing direction and the acquisition of equipment, extra support (like freelancers) and function as a referee when the rare dispute occurs.

and so to answer the question i would say “yes”. it is sometimes an advantage to be a jerk. the trick is knowing when and to what extent.
to alienate your subordinates is to cripple yourself.

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