Are You A Bully Boss?
Balancing the vested interests of the company alongside the output and productivity of the team often means that leaders in the work place tread a precarious line. Increasingly there is pressure on leaders, bosses, to be accountable for the wellbeing of the team itself however, tight deadlines and pressure to meet targets can also lead to an abuse of power that can affect the attitude of workers.
It is easy for workplace bullying to continue well after the confines of high school are left behind. There are serious ramifications of bullying in the workplace especially on an employee’s health and in an acknowledged nation that consistently overworks, this is not the making of a healthy, productive workplace.
As a leader, if you have never paused to think about the way you address and manage your employees, perhaps now is a good time to reflect on the kind of boss your employees see you as.
The constitution of a bully boss may involve any or all of the following behaviours:
This isn’t just limited to yelling and shouting, it also includes snide remarks, addressing someone in a publicly humiliating way, unwarranted comments that belittle, undermine. None of these actions foster positivity in an employee. Such behaviour also includes social abuse such as insulting and facilitating any gossip or jokes made at an employee’s expense even if it is to gain the approval of the rest of your team. Instead, address each situation with a calm voice and engage respectfully with your employees.
Address each situation with a calm voice and engage respectfully with your employees.
Perhaps the most obvious abuse of someone’s power is dominating someone physically in an unwelcome, unwanted, violent and inappropriate manner. This kind of behaviour is not okay anywhere in society and certainly not in the workplace.
Such behaviour creates ill-ease amongst employees be it a brash or cold manner or going so far as to threaten an employee’s livelihood and future. Do not encourage an employee to break the law or do something that is against their values and beliefs. Put simply, if you wouldn’t do the task, don’t ask someone else to do it.
If you wouldn’t do the task, don’t ask someone else to do it.
An observant leader will know the strengths and weaknesses of their team and distribute work accordingly with the right amount of challenge to stimulate growth. On the flipside, undermining, psychologically abusive behaviour from a boss sends mixed messages to the employee. This could entail knowingly allocating tasks to an employee that isn’t capable of completing them; constantly changing the parameters of a task so that the employee always looks unprofessional and incompetent; withholding information necessary for task completion.
On the other hand, don’t mistake assertiveness for bullying. An assertive leader is someone that can negotiate, converse, request and delegate firmly and with authority without having to resort to any of the aforementioned behaviours. Indeed, an assertive leader will be able to articulate succinctly what they require of an employee, report back on performance management and give constructive criticism without being perceived as being aggressive or submissive.
An observant leader will know the strengths and weaknesses of their team and distribute work accordingly with the right amount of challenge to stimulate growth.
To be a boss that your employees respect and want to work for is not as difficult as you might think. A lot of it comes down to being mindful of the gravity of your words and actions, observing your employees, communicating effectively and being aware of the work environment you are creating, the skills and shortcomings of your employees. While you don’t have to be their best friend, being approachable to your employees will go a long way in fostering loyalty and respect.
Lastly, if you are an employee experiencing bullying in the workplace you have many paths of action you can take to highlight and stop the offending behaviour and it doesn’t have to just be your boss- peers and colleagues are equally capable of filling the role of the workplace bully.
It comes down to being mindful of the gravity of your words and actions, observing your employees, communicating effectively and being aware of the work environment you are creating, the skills and shortcomings of your employees.
The Human Rights Commission has a wealth of information about the right course of action if you feel you are being bullied in the workplace. You can start by finding out the complaints process in your workplace, talk to your supervisor/manager, industry union representative, a harassment contact officer or health and safety representative. If nothing is being done within an organisation you are well within your rights to approach the police.
Alternatively, consider a fresh start with a change of jobs or career. A recruiter, such as Robert Half, can help point you in the right direction toward a happier and better work place environment.
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