Most of the articles written about workplace bullying would focus on the employee who was bullied at work or how the negative working environment affects an organization. However, there’s an article in Hawaii Business titled “Working with a Bully” which talked about the other side of bullying. It showed a different perspective which highlighted what the bullying situation looked like in the eyes of a “bully boss.”
The article started off by recounting one of Executive Coach Kim Payton’s experiences in helping clients deal with workplace bullying. Payton shared an example where a new mid-level manager joined an organization, in which his team was made up of female employees. The women staff claimed that the mid-level manager was a bully because when he gets frustrated, he starts talking louder and his face would get red. When Payton completed his investigation, he learned that the staff has been casually ignoring the mid level manager’s directives and requests, and were resentful of his domineering style. The staff’s refusal to do the boss’ requests or showing subtle signs of disrespect and claiming abuse over any reaction of frustration or anger are considered as reverse bullying.
The mid-level manager, who was labeled a bully, was reacting to his staff’s bullying actions. The cycle would just continue until either the boss or the staff would give up and leave the organization. Granted that probably the mid-level manager wasn’t able to properly control his reactions at work, still, this case brings a different light to bullying and its many layers. Usually the situations of workplace bullying being highlighted are those that comes from the top down meaning from bosses to employees, and not from the bottom up.
There are still many nuances to bullying in the workplace that really makes it complicated for HR professionals, management or even experts to address. Specific factors such as cultural differences or varying management styles, can also contribute to workplace bullying or the perception that a person or boss is a bully. However, given the subtleness and complexity of bullying at work, there are times when it’s difficult to assess whether it would fall under workplace bullying or not.
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