Sunday, March 18, 2007


The Latest On Workplace Bullies

Here are two new items about workplace bullies. Not that I need to cite any more such items, but it is always good to get a jolt of reality now and then.

One article notes that a Google search on "workplace bullies" yields 2,100,000 results, and recommends a book entitled The No A-hole Rule. The author of this book is a management professor who claims that workplace bullies cost corporations millions in "lost productivity and employee turnover." Here are some examples of bad bosses that he cites:

1) Bosses who claim the company is like a "family", and go on to prove it in their perverse way by irrationally favoring some "children" over others.

2) Bosses who pretend to welcome criticism, then object when it is given.

3) Bosses who discourage "dating" at the workplace, but indulge in it themselves.

4) Bosses who waste company money pretending to interview job candidates for a position when they already have one of their cronies in mind.

5) Bosses who insult the intelligence of their employees with "fun" exercises intended to build team spirit.

6) Bosses who love jargon.

7) Bosses who spy on their employees to find what they say about them.

The second article insists that 50 percent of bad bosses are not really bullies but "sad, scared people" who are "afraid" of their employees. Such bosses are essentially indifferent to their subordinates and offer little to help or encourage them. Since these bosses have "no substance", they are difficult to deal with. They are like quicksilver, and slip out of your grasp when you try to pin them down. The workplace bully is something else altogether. He or she may be very formidable, with "plenty of substance", but is a "narcissistic psychopath" who will actively steal credit from you, and destroy your reputation behind your back. One way to defend oneself against bosses like this is to build your own network of allies to whom you can turn for help.

This article offers its own thumbnail typology of bad bosses, complete with strategies on how to deal with each variety.

1) Selfish, egotistical and back-biting bosses. You can deal with these by showing them what you do can to put them in a good light.

2) Overworked bosses (who are perhaps more out of their depth than simply malevolent). State your ideas concisely to these guys, and don't waste their time.

3) Nasty, bullying bosses. Cover your ass with these dudes by detailing everything, and holding onto the paper trail.

4) Stupid bosses. Just keep it simple, and don't talk too fast.

The author of this article laments that "people often don't think hard enough when making managerial appointments these days." Amen, I say.

"We need fewer bullies, particularly as bosses" from HeraldNet
"Beware the workplace bully" from The New Zealand Herald

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