How to Deal with a Bullying Boss

Introduction

Belief it or not, but one in six workers is a victim of ‘bossing’, being bullied by the boss, according to research in various areas. Even more remarkably, it is chiefly productive employees that are the subject of bullying. I am trying to find out why this is and will come back to this at a later stage.bossing

Especially in a time of economic downturn some managers will turn to bossing. They hope that the employee himself will resign, so he will not need to bother with severance pay and thus will leave the company in a cheap way. In practice, however, many victims might come to stay at home with a burnout, with, depending on prevailing labour laws, possible high costs for the company as a result.

An on line survey of targeted workers found that they put up with the abuse for an average of 22 months, before doing anything! This might be too long. Personally I would like to prevent having the mental issues as a consequence of bossing (or any tricks of the boss for that matter). Ending up with a burn-out is one of the worst things that can happen to you and you could be scarred for life. So please read on and you will learn about bossing and how to deal with a bullying boss. I will finish with offering one of the best ways to start for yourself.

What is bossing?

bossingBossing is the German invented term for bullying by the boss. Previously, the term mobbing was also used for this phenomenon. Mobbing, however, is about the bullying of one person by a group (e.g. colleagues), while bossing is specifically about bullying by one person, in many cases the boss.

Bullying is a form of abuse which carries tremendous health harm and that is how you distinguish it from tough management or any of the other cheesy ways people use to belittle it. Research suggests that workplace abuse is linked to stress — and stress is linked to a laundry list of mental and physical ailments, including higher body weight and heart disease. And yes, even suicides have been reported!

Reasons

Sometimes bossing is motivated by economic reasons, jealousy, the manager feels threatened by the employee. bossingBossing can also be stimulated by feelings of hatred because the employee is different from others. It may be about performance, competencies, education, beliefs, ethnic origin, colour, sexual orientation, disability, social disability, giftedness or age. Sometimes the bullying manager can “just” be a power-hungry dictator or someone who otherwise has a problem between the ears.

Seven types of bossing

Experts have summarised their knowledge about bullying at work and concluded that there are seven types of bossing:

1 Isolating

If you spend your workday avoiding an abusive boss, who is not greeting you, or if you are eating lunch alone, or because you’ve been ostracised from your cubicle mates, you may be the victim of workplace bullying.

2 Making the work unpleasant or impossible

Deleting files from computers, not passing on important calls, scheduling meetings so that one person cannot make it, manipulating individual’s work performance, diminishing his work, giving someone only trivial work or things he does not like. 

  1. bossing3 Mocking

Mocking is difficult to deal with anywhere, but the problem is even more apparent at work.  Ridiculing a person’s appearance, behaviour, way of talking or walking or sexual preference is an action that can damage your self-esteem, job performance and reputation.

4 Gossiping

Spreading rumours about a person in order to paint him black and harming his reputation. You might want to find out if he is doing it on you alone or on others as well.

5 Threatening

Perform many appraisals and always being dissatisfied with work well done, threats of dismissal. Many workers eat a lot of this kind of intimidation from the higher-ups as they struggle to make their way in the business world. While some negative enforcement is a typical business practice, there is a line that bosses should never cross. You should never feel threatened in your place of work, whether physically, emotionally or financially. 

Physical violence

In solitary cases this takes the form of locking someone up, pushing or hitting the victim. This behaviour or even the threat to do so, when clearly proven, will be the ground for dismissal of the person in question.

7 Sexual harassment

bossingSexual violence in the workplace can be divided into three categories:

  • use of physical force to compel a person to engage in a sexual act against his or her will, whether or not the act is completed;
  • attempted or completed sex act involving a person who is unable to refuse because of intimidation or pressure from above;
  • abusive contact.

Given the working environment, the power or intimidation of a peer or supervisor or the sensitivity of the workplace environment can make sexual violence common in the workforce. Pressure to engage in a sexual act against his or her will unfortunately happens as too many employees fear the loss of their job or other retaliation by an employer if they refuse sexual violence.

What to do about it?

For intimidations 1-4 you should find out whether it is only you that has the issues. If this is so, then you might confront him with it, by organising a private conversation. Ensure that you have all the facts right and do not start by accusing him of anything. Rather create an atmosphere where the two of you can talk business like (certainly not emotional), so that any misunderstandings can be avoided. In this way you will give your boss a chance to explain himself clearly and you will give yourself the chance for a way out. At the same time you may have to accept that there is no future for the two of you and take the consequences.

If he does these practises on others as well it is better report him to his boss or the management. If your bossingmanagement does not tolerate this kind of behaviour the manager gets reprimanded and things should normalise or he is on his way out. If they do nothing about it for whatever reason, then you better be on the way out. Believe me; this is much better for your health and possibly for your career.

You think of going to HR? Think again. Human Resources has no power or clout to make senior management stop, as without the laws, they’re not mandated to make policies, and without the mandate, they don’t know what to do. I have described in detail the issues with HR here.

As to numbers 5-7, these can be taken as criminal offences and if well proven will lead to immediate dismissal of the offender. Again, in some cases, companies might protect themselves from the outside, in which case you better look for a suitable alternative.

For all cases above, when the offender is the owner of the company, I think there will be every reason to leave there, although in situations 5-7 you will be able to file criminal charges as well.

Conclusion

Avoiding a workplace bully might seem easier than avoiding a school bully, given that employees can quit their jobs. But workers get caught in a cycle of stress. 

Little research has been done on how to deal with abusive bosses or bullying co-workers. In mild cases, where a boss may not realise how their behaviour is coming across, direct confrontation might work. In cases where the management does not want to see the abuse and your boss just does not stop, the best thing you can do for yourself is leave the company, before your health is affected.

boss's tricks

 

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Please share you own experiences here and if you have any remarks and/or questions, leave them in the comment box and I will respond within 24 hours.

 

 

10 Replies to “How to Deal with a Bullying Boss”

  1. I believe it is more important to choose the boss over company. A supportive boss in a lousy company still has a future, lousy boss in a fantastic company – you are just nobody and very dispensable. I have been advised not to stir the hornet’s nest, be politically nice to stay alive. Your 7 guidelines on this situation we should leverage with to deal with bad bosses is definitely awesome. It is helpful and I like to come back for more tips.

    1. Hi Roslan, I would always choose a supportive boss over a lousy one. To be able to work as a team is much better for your (mental) health. In some situations it is indeed better to go with the flow, but if this gets into your system, you need to act one way or the other. I hear of too many people staying in these situations for too long and it adversely affects their health. This certainly is not necessary and should be avoided at all times. Cheers, Jerry

  2. I love this article! I never thought of it as boss bullying but now I can see it. The place where I still hold a job (or they have a hold on me) it is so obvious to me that the manager favors some employees over the others. Maybe I should get this website in front of him? Thanks for an interesting read

    1. Hi Angela, I am not sure if confronting him with this website would help. What you can do is find out why he is favouring some people. Is there some relation? Is it purely based on capabilities or not? If you are really unhappy with the situation, you should do something about it before if affects your health. You should have a business like talk with him. Ask him how he judges you and what his future plans are for you. Keep the emotions out and try to discover if he is even aware of what he is doing. Let me know if you have any questions about this approach and I will help you further. Cheers, Jerry

  3. It’s good to see someone raising the awareness of workplace bullying. It can be a serious problem and does need to be reported. This is the only way to counteract the issue and if you are forced to resign from it then court action needs to take place for justice and to make sure it doesn’t happen to others.

    1. Hi Matt, you are right, hence this website and posts. People need to be aware of what can happen to them in any work situation and what they can do about it. Cheers, Jerry

  4. Hey! this is really really a great post! the pictures you have added are so nice and suitable! i went through your all pages and posts! you have done a great job so far! its very easy to understand! that’s what people look for! i have been waiting to check out websites like this and keep it in my mind! so that i could easily be in touch! you have done a great job so far! i wish you a very good luck!
    cheers, Hasitha!

    1. Hello Hasitha, I am glad I could be of help. I sincerely hope that you are right in saying that this is what people look for. I will have some more coming! Cheers, Jerry

  5. I think the whole reason bosses have a bad rep in the workplace is mainly because these managers arn’t really in the place they want to be in life, and they take their personal anger on the job. I see it all the time with others.

    I do think that any sexual harrassment should be reported asap, wouldn’t you agree?

    Matt TheDopestMatrix

    1. Hi Matt, I agree with you that any form of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. I sincerely doubt though that this is happening all the time in the work place. As I mentioned there might be many reasons why a boss reacts adversely, personal anger/discontent with themselves being one of them. Cheers, Jerry

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