* "Paralysis of Analysis - Can't make a decision and stick with it.," said labor/management relations expert Linda Williams. Leaders are supposed to lead - but some simply waffle and delay, and the more they do, the higher the blood pressure of their subordinates will go. This flaw is not as aggressively jerky as most of the others but workers whose boss displays this flaw will tell you it's nerve wracking sailing on a ship with no definite destination.
* Jerks even will ask you to lie for them - sometimes about very personal matters. "My first sign that my first boss was a jerk was when he called me into his office and he proceeded to explain that he often received calls from several ladies who were important to him," recalled Anna Renault of her time as a secretary at a state agency. "My job was to take a name, number and brief message! I was not to get into conversations with these ladies or with his wife." That same boss, incidentally, asked her to lie to his wife about attending "conferences that did not exist." Do note: any boss who habitually asks underlings to lie, about anything, automatically qualifies as a jerk. And especially when the boss wants cover for extra-marital affairs.
* Some are Jekyll and Hyde "One minute they are nice to you, the next minute they are tearing you apart," said Daniel Paulson, CEO of InVision Business Development. "One day I was being commended for all the hard work I was putting into a project. A few days later I was pulled into the same room and told I wasn't pulling my weight."
* Jerk bosses can be counted on to be gutless - so gutless in fact that they call you to fire someone "so they don't have to do it," said Angie Segal, a business coach with ActionCOACH. More broadly, a lot of jerk bosses are masters of "why don't you and him fight," where they get underlings to handle their confrontations for them.
* "The number one telltale sign that your boss is a jerk is if he has explosive tantrums," said psychotherapist Fran Walfish. "I can't tell you how many of my adult patients throw themselves onto my couch moaning about this type of mistreatment by their bosses." Tantrums may be O.K. with three year-olds. But any boss who throws one instantly earns the jerk label.
Your boss qualifies? There is no known cure for boss jerkiness - which means quitting is your best call. That's harsh? Indeed, but working day after day for a jerk is lots harsher, and that is a painful fact.
--Written by Robert McGarvey for MainStreet