How to Deal with a Workplace Bully

Unfortunately, some people aren’t nice. And unfortunately, one of those people might be your boss. In an article from Time magazine: “Worker abuse is a widespread problem – in a 2007 Zogby poll, 37% of American adults said they had been bullied at work…” (Yahoo! News)
Most often, bullying trickles down from management to the employees. Positions of superiority and power are conducive to malice and poor treatment of employees. In the past, bullied employees have just left the organization and the bullying for a new job; however, in the recent bad economy, walking out usually isn’t an option.
What do you do to rehabilitate a bully in your organization?
Bullies must be made aware of the effect of their behavior on others. A thorough assessment of the manager’s behavioral performance with an instrument like a 360-degree feedback survey can provide the initiative to change.
A 360 evaluation of overall performance must include a derailers section. In the past, we’ve written about derailers and the importance of measuring these key negative behaviors. Derailers are behaviors that get in the way of progress. A derailer is not just a weakness. We all have weaknesses that we may never choose to fix or master. A derailer is a weakness that requires improvement.
Leadership coaching must be provided for a bully, either from the bully’s manager or an outside coach. The goal is to develop an action plan and provide follow-up support and accountability during the improvement process.
We have found that these types of managers—the mean, malice-filled managers—can and do change with proper support. However, the manager must want to change, understand exactly what needs to change, develop an action plan to make it happen, and receive on-going support and follow-through.

Recommended Posts