Do You Work For A Bully
Employee Management Articles
Submit Articles Back to Articles
met Brenda when she managed a 2,000-person department for a Fortune 500
company. Brought in to help her with an upcoming change initiative, I
was impressed by Brenda’s intelligence, creativity, political savvy,
and dedication to her job. She had all the qualities of a senior
executive – which was her career goal.
she was also a bully. One direct report described her as a “kiss-up and
slap-down kind of manager.” The targets of the bullying were especially
demoralized, but even those on her staff who only witnessed the bad
behavior began to devote more energy to protecting themselves than they
did to helping the company. Brenda's dysfunctional management style
eventually led to a decline in her department’s performance and, as a
result, the change initiative was abandoned. Eventually Brenda’s career
was derailed by the increasing number of enemies she made with every
nasty glare and mean-spirited remark. She resigned when it became
obvious that she would never get the promotion she coveted.
about bullies don't always end with them resigning in disgrace. In
fact, many bullies thrive. You may even be working for one.
definition, workplace bullying is the repeated, health-harming
mistreatment of an employee in the form of verbal abuse or behaviors
that are threatening, intimidating, or humiliating. Bullies at work
practice psychological violence. They yell, insult, throw tantrums,
steal credit, spread rumors, withhold crucial information, and/or
socially isolate their targets by excluding them. The body language of
bullies includes staring, glaring, or totally ignoring the target when
he/she speaks. Bullies often engage in aggressive finger pointing,
invade personal space and use touch as a measure of control (a
bone-crushing handshake) or a means to patronize (a pat on the head).
According to a 2010 Workplace Bullying Institute Survey, 13.7 million
adults reported being bullied at work.
Bullies are typically bosses. In fact, 72% of bullies outrank their
Bullying is not illegal unless the target is a member of a
status-protected group (due to gender, race, age, etc.) and the bully
is not a member.
The financial damage bullies do to their organizations is often
undetected, but can be seen in the cost of increased turnover and
absenteeism and in decreased employee engagement and collaboration.
bullies are put into leadership positions because they appear to be
smart, ambitious, results-oriented and "take-charge." All of which may
be true (as in Brenda’s case), but in addition to those more positive
characteristics, most bullies lack empathy. They seem immune to the
suffering of others.
A.R. Mohammad, an addiction expert and adjunct professor of addiction
medicine at the University of
Southern California, offers this perspective:
have some inherent characteristics. They have an inflated self-esteem
and a false sense of entitlement. These characteristics may lead to
occupation is one of the environmental risk factors of addiction.
People who have high-pressured jobs, are under a lot of stress, and
have easy access to drugs and alcohol are more prone to develop
addiction. Bullying would be another way to cope with that stress.”
how can you tell if you're working for a bully or just a tough boss?
way is to realize that tough bosses treat people equitably. They may be
hard on everyone, especially during a crunch time, but they tend to
ease up when the crisis is over. Bullies target only a few, and their
bullying is relentless.
way to gauge whether or not you are being bullied is by monitoring your
mental and physical reactions. Targets of constant bullying often
become physically ill. Especially prevalent are cardiovascular and
gastrointestinal diseases, and a common first sign is hypertension.
Targets also suffer emotional distress, including self-doubt,
plummeting self-esteem, and depression.
down mentally and physically, it’s no wonder that when it comes to
dealing with bullies in the workplace, a lot of targets don't even try.
They simply quit their jobs.
you are being bullied at work, here are few tips:
Realize you are being bullied and it's not about
you and your work. It's about dominance and control.
Take a stand from the beginning. (This is the most vital tip as targets
suffer added pain and shame from not standing up to the bully in the
Stay professional. Speak calmly and confidently, and make your position
Document and confide in others you trust.
Report it to Human Resources if the bullying continues.
About the Author
Kinsey Goman, Ph.D.is an international
Keynote speaker on collaborative leadership and the impact of
language in the workplace.
coach to executives to improve their leadership presence and
Leadership blogger for Forbes and author of "The Silent Language of
Leaders: How Body Language Can Help - or Hurt - How You Lead.”
Carol@CarolKinseyGoman.com Authors Google+
Follow us @Scopulus_News