I received an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) to read and review Carnachan’s book, Work Jerks, How to Cope with Difficult Bosses and Colleagues. This is an engaging and identifiable book I wished had been available during my healthcare career. It would have been a well-read, dog-eared copy, used and shared to help ease the angst and pain working with such people. No matter where you are employed or what position you hold, you either have or eventually will, encounter a person that fits into one of the categories Louise Carnachan so aptly describes. With her Master’s Degree in Social Work and years of experience in multiple workforces, here in her book Carnachan has laid out well-researched definitions, case examples, and points on how to deal with each type of work jerks. Pointing to ten types of Work Jerks, I read through her definitions, such as the narcissistic jerk, the incompetent jerk, and the poor me jerk, and regrettably could put real names and faces to many of them I’ve personally worked with. One soon learns no one job is managed by the ‘perfect employer’ nor is there the ‘perfect employee.’
“What puts folks firmly in jerk territory is engaging in consistently annoying actions over a sustained period of time.” Carnachan
Personal case in point, working at a major medical facility, clinic employees met the new manager at our weekly meeting. She was introduced, gave a short history of her work background, then BANG! She hit us with a comment I still remember to this day. “Some of you won’t be here in a month. I plan on cleaning house.” Go ahead, say it. I certainly did under my breath that morning as I looked about the gathering of stunned faces. True to her word, she garnered [what I now know to be] “It’s all about me, I have power, Narcissistic Work Jerk of the Year Award.” The unfortunate part was those in administration above her chose to ignore the employee’s concerns while claiming the same honor and leaving their (us) employees stuck to endure her power plays. I only wish I had Carnachan’s book to turn to for help and leave a copy on her desk.
“Speaking up for what’s safe and right isn’t as easy as it should be.” Carnachan
Whether you are an anxious teen in your first job or a seasoned adult in your third or fourth, most of us hold respect for our supervisors and administrators, only asking to receive the same in return. Unfortunately for some, this is not reality. It is why I feel Carnachan’s book is an eye-opening must-read for anyone heading out into the competitive world of employment. Work Jerks should be a required read whether college or technical educated or trained on the job. Carnachan provides suggestions and gives concrete tools to respectfully empower yourself and “achieve interpersonal success in challenging work relationships.” Also, this well-written book is invaluable for those of us retirees who may still hold ill feelings for a certain toxic work environment. For myself, reading this book was like a catharsis, helping me understand previous difficult bosses and colleagues.
“Remember, you’re in charge of your attitude. Remind yourself of your reasons for working there.” Carnachan
At the beginning of her book, Carnachan aptly instructs the reader on how to use her book as a guide, stating, “There’s no way you’re going to make your problem coworker(s) change.” If it was only so easy. I think I can safely say that we’ve all been in frustrating circumstances with one or more forms of work jerks that set out to ruin your day or career, either intentionally or unintentionally. In addition, sadly, we have all read and heard about the dangers of workplace abuse and violence on the news or in person. Here Ms. Carnachan thankfully provides the reader with a “Warning” and actions if you are ever in physical danger at your place of employment. In her final chapter, an excellent ending to this valuable book, Louise Carnachan discusses the Toxic Work Culture where the “company’s culture isn’t compatible with your values” and the potentially difficult choices you need to make for your future employment and most importantly, your physical and emotional well-being.
Even though this book deals mainly with the workplace, I feel it is an excellent source of help in dealing with any difficult acquaintance, family members, organization leaders, and its members, and for that matter, any person you come in contact with, in your daily activities.
Add this book to your personal or work library. You won’t be sorry.
Louise Carnachan, MSW, Author is represented by Blue Cottage Agency