How to Handle a Tyrant Boss by Bob Weinstein
The study also revealed the following:
- 81 percent of bullies are managers
- 50 percent of bullies are women and 50 percent are men
- 84 percent of targets are women
- 82 percent of targets ultimately lost their jobs
- 95 percent of bullying is witnessed
Most disturbing is that only 7 percent of workplace bullies end up censured, transferred or fired.
How do you handle a bully boss? You don’t have to be miserable and take his abuse, says Robert Mueller, a San Francisco-based labor attorney who has represented more than 2,000 employees, many of whom were targets of despotic bosses.
And you don’t have to quit your job. Read why employees leave organisations? If you’re going to deal with the problem, you have to accept the sad reality that workplace bullying is prevalent because companies allow it. “It’s institutionalized abuse,” says Mueller. “There ought to be rules and a code of conduct that prohibits bullying behavior.”
So whether you’re a rank-and-file employee, IT developer or a senior project manager, you have no choice but to deal with the problem on your own. Mueller contends that any victim of workplace bullying can employ self-defense strategies that can restore power and dignity to the bullied employee.
The more you know about your despotic boss, the better you’ll be able to handle him. Here are a few general insights from Mueller:
- Personal confrontations with tyrant bosses are seldom productive.
- Management team members interpret any confrontation an employee might have with a boss as also being a confrontation with them, and without well-documented proof of a pattern of behavior, they will likely view the employee as the problem.
- If bullies notice that you’re avoiding them, they will interpret it as cowering behavior.
- Don’t be afraid to make eye contact with your bully boss.
- Don’t mistakenly think you can diffuse a bully by getting personal and showing your human side. Bullies not only don’t appreciate the personal side of others, they don’t tolerate it. Details of your personal, spiritual or emotional life are weapons in your antagonist’s hands.
- Don’t try and enlist the help of your HR department. HR can be the chilliest place any employee can visit, and also one of the most dangerous. HR’s allegiance is to the employer, especially protecting him from lawsuits. Approach HR cautiously, and only when fully prepared.
Mueller has identified six types of bully bosses. Any of the following strike a responsive chord?
- Subtle bullies. These bullies torment their targets quietly by undermining their abilities and never letting up.
- Abusive bullies. They mercilessly hound their targets.
- Crude bullies. Aggressively use their power, and are vocally and often physically abusive.
- Raging bullies. Enjoy intimidating everyone in reach with out-of-control, explosive anger.
- Ghost bullies. Guide, mentor and supervise lower-level bosses in harassing techniques and tactics.
- Satellite bullies. Undermine their targets by assisting other bullies.
- Approach your bullying problem like you would a project. Be methodical in how you behave, perform, document and strategize. Take notes after an incident. Try to stay unemotional. Even though he is trying to make you think that you are the cause of the problem, it is the bully who has a serious personal and professional problem.
- Be a workplace warrior as you look for other work. Even as you put feelers out for other jobs, dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to vanquishing your abuser, not being a victim. Be prepared for an attack every second you’re at work.
- Sweat the small stuff. Document even the smallest incidents, which often become the most important, illustrating a pattern of bullying that might not otherwise be apparent. Teasing counts. Sarcasm counts. Ignoring or criticism counts. A very public glare or silent treatment counts.
- Don’t let yourself become isolated. Every day, pick out someone you haven’t talked to for a while. Have a brief but focused conversation. Bullies work hard to alienate targets from their co-workers. Don’t let that happen to you.
- Display self-esteem and broadcast a positive attitude. Pay attention to how your appearance--such as hair and clothes--is perceived by others. Have a comfy chair in your office for co-workers. Put fresh flowers on your desk. Decorate with tasteful art that will be pleasing to others. Make your personal space an oasis of calm and taste.
- Try to stay in safe spots. Your abuser is less likely to attack when you are around other supervisors, known allies, particularly upright employees and customers or other outsiders of importance to the employer. Make a list of those people and places.
- During a bullying situation, excuse yourself. Don’t beat a hasty retreat, and don’t leave the building. Tell your abuser that you’re late for an appointment with HR, for example. Or casually excuse yourself to the restroom. Never enter the restroom if you are being pursued by a bully.
- During an attack, try distracting your abuser. Pick up something physical--as long at it’s not a threatening item--such as a critical file that needs the bully’s attention or a note with an important phone number that needs to be called. Sometimes a simple distraction is enough to get him or her to stop.
- Protect your personal information. Tell bullies as little as possible about your life, family, friends, hobbies, interests, religion and so on. Information about you gives them power.
- Hold your cards close to the vest. As you’re building a case against a bully boss, the less you talk about your story to others at work, the better. Controlling what you say, when you say it and to whom needs to be part of your overall, well-organized strategy.