Managing Bullying Bosses
According to a 2010 survey conducted by the Workplace Bullying Institute, 35% of the American workforce (or 53.5 million people) has directly experienced bullying-or "repeated mistreatment by one or more employees that takes the form of verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, humiliation, or sabotage of work performance." An additional 15% said they have witnessed bullying at work Amazingly, a whopping 72% of this bullying was done by bosses. "Bullying in the workplace is similar to the school playground in that people are being demeaned or exploited," says Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert.
Andy Teach, author of "From Graduation to Corporation", says "There is a lot of bullying by the bosses that goes on in the workplace-and the more years you work, the greater chance you have of encountering it." He says that the same people who bullied their classmates in the school classroom are trying to push people around and get their way in the corporate realm as well. Taylor explains that on the extreme end of the spectrum, there are those who throw tirades and intimidate employees constantly. "Their behavior is nefarious enough to warrant termination and legal ramifications." At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find the covert bully; the much more rampant, fear-provoking boss, who acts out randomly.
Teach agrees that there are many ways in which a boss or supervisor can bully his or her staff. One way is by yelling if the employee doesn't please them. Another possible way is by constantly threatening them; always telling the employee that their job is at stake. Another possible way is by putting the employee in an uncomfortable position such as giving them an order that puts the employee's job or reputation in jeopardy. Sometimes bullying can be less obvious. The bullying boss may simply ignore the employee or not include them in meetings anymore.
How to Handle It
Now that we know some of the ways that bosses like to bully people, you should also know some ways to counteract it. You have to be careful with this if you want to keep your job as well. The best way to do this is to look for alternate jobs to begin with. This way you will be prepared in case a bullying boss decides to take action and fire you when you attempt to stand up for yourself. Then, acknowledge that you are being bullied and that it is unacceptable. Next, consult a trusted friend or colleague and let them know what's going on to confirm you are being bullied. Then, prepare your case against the bully and confront them with what issues you have with their behavior.
If confronting the bully isn't the best decision, then there may be some other options to take. You can seek support from an upper manager. Another option is to consider leaving the position. It simply may not be the best job for you. This is especially the case if the company encourages bullying. Recognize that you don't fit in with that company and then start applying for new positions. Then, when you land the new job, consider using the exit interview to document your reason for leaving.
1. Arruda, W. (2015, May 10). How To Manage Office Bullies: From Co-Workers To Bosses. Retrieved June 5, 2015