Friday 20 November 2020

Bullying is rubbish in any work place - Friday View

I have worked in quite a few organisations, big and small. One thing that has always led me to leave is a horrid, bullying boss. I have had my fair share of them and luckily, my fair share of inspirational bosses who really helped me to learn and kick on. 

In some ways, the bas bosses, who I generally experienced earlier on in my career taught me the most. They taught me that fear works in terms of driving short-term performance and can lead them to their own promotions. Long-term, it does nothing for the organisation or the people in it. Bullying and picking on individuals might push you to avoid being the target, but no one is happy and less value is created. 

Interestingly, the worst bully bosses I have ever had are all female. Maybe it is fluke or random error, but certainly just as there is an alpha-male type of boss who is a nightmare to work for, there are plenty of women whose own insecurity is taken out on those below them. 

I learned much more from the political and bullying bosses - it taught me how I did not want to be when it was my turn later in my career - not taking credit for things I had not doe, not randomly hauling people over the coals because I was having a bad day, not coming up with petty ideas just to trip people over, not getting angry over presenteeism and not trying to turn the team on one another - all great lessons. 

Not to say the good bosses did not help, making time to speak to people in your team, encouraging them and trusting them even when you know they will make mistakes. To me the companies that do this best always end up succeeding the most in the long-term, even if the bullying ones can do better in a hit and run type market. Personally, I certainly know which ones I would rather work for. 


Anonymous said...

I think having a "tough" manager can be beneficial, so long as they aren't your manager for too long - 6-12 months is about right.

However one persons tough can be another persons bully, sometimes there's a fine line between the two. (And obviously sometimes there's no fine line and they are just an awful person.)

E-K said...

I prefer not to have a boss which is why I chose to do what I do - work on my own 99% of the time. I made this decision long before there was any money in it.

My role is almost entirely self managing.

I loathed the visible rank structure in the police and I agree, there are alpha/bully females too, probably a lot more.

I love that I know my job better than anyone over me and the easiest way to see any of them off is to ask them a technical question in front of other staff. Whenever I see a manager I make a beeline for them with finger in air, big smile and an *Ah - just the person !* expression on my face.

It works a treat ! They all scatter at the sight of me now.

I'm off this week and have brought my tablet home and am reading through manuals to set the most devious questions I can think of.

It's a great way to keep on top of your job too.

Anonymous said...

One of my current clients is a smallish company, over-represented at management level, and with more than it's fair share of bullies at that level, along with a weak CEO and an ineffective CTO.

The politics is astounding, it's on a par with 80's American shoulder-padded shows like Dynasty.

Staff are leaving in droves, bullying complaints are brushed under a rug and the investors are handing out warnings, but the entire collection of clowns are more obsessed with their fragile egos and claiming ownership of the ever-shrinking pool of successes than dealing with such minutiae as running a business.

And they sit atop something akin to a gold mine, with the ability to get access to the finest mining equipment, surrounded by a thinning pool of skilled miners willing to mine. And unable to make money and blaming the miners.

The bullying and political games go on though, some new clever wheeze, some new strategy to remove any naysayers or anyone suggesting the looming iceberg may be something to be concerned about.

And it is quite possible they'll yet make the papers with the kind of data breach that will cause ministerial heads to roll. I very much hope that won't be the case, as it'd be something of a national embarrassment.

Nick Drew said...

the CO in my first regiment was a classic bully with classic attendant inferiority complex: he wasn't very bright (constantly being shown in a bad light alongside his suave adjutant), hadn't been to Staff College, and wasn't ever going to, either

so he took it out on whomever he could, and as the most junior subaltern ... well, I learned to keep out of his way as much as poss (not so easy in a British regiment: the officers mess is quite a small population)

when I moved on, I vowed never again to be bullied. On encountering the first signs of it on two subsequent occasions (another military, then later as a civvie) I escalated judiciously to nuclear without delay

always sorry for people in situations where they feel they just can't do that (even if they are wrong in their nervousness): precariat jobs (and parallel non-work situations); cultures where bullying is accepted; just never realised you can hit back

decnine said...

Without seeing the entire report it isn't possible to make a fair judgement. The facts as presented by The Press suggest bullying. They are equally consistent with the Home Secretary having given instructions on things that were to be done, and having vigorously expressed displeasure when they were not done, ruffling the feathers of the rebukee. Given the Home Office's long track record of letting problems fester, it may be no bad thing that Mandarins get roasted occasionally.

Anonymous said...

@decnine - I think you are probably right. I don't think that Patel is blameless but if you are a senior civil servant who is failing to deliver then you can expect a fairly tough rebuke from the minister.
The home office has been a disaster zone for decades and I don't think Patel is smart or experienced enough to sort it out but she does at least have the right attitude and instincts. Namely that we should deport illegals, jail criminals and expect civil servants to do their job.

E-K said...


Whenever I find myself being bullied (and I think I must have a punch-able face the amount it happens, still now) I find that moving forwards both physically and verbally is a good move.

Always a 'friendly' smile and an over enthusiastic and predatory "how are you ???" with a psycho stare - stare at them even if they try to move from it.

You can't be accused of anything and they can't hit you and they well know it.

Graeme said...

Bullies need to be worked over. I fought against enough of them

lilith said...

Bullying can be an insoluble problem when you are self employed. I recently sacked myself and took myself on again part time.