If youve ever been yelled at, demeaned or otherwise intimidated by your boss, youre not alone. Nearly 30 percent of Americans report being bullied at work, most often by their direct supervisor.
The worst boss I ever had was at a major publication that shall remain nameless. The issue with Unnamed Jerk wasnt that he was tough, or even that he was difficult. Its that the guy was downright disrespectful. Everyone in the office was afraid of him, and hed take every imaginable opportunity to make his subordinates feel anxious and insecure about their work, even their jobs!
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The personal hell of working with him reached its zenith one day when he raised his voice; that is to say, he yelled at me. It took everything in me to remember I was in an office. Instead of having a When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong moment, I took a few deep breaths and began planning my exit. It wasnt but a few weeks before Id given my two weeks notice.
Thats my story, but bullying bosses come in many forms. Their impact, however, is usually the same: frustration and demoralizationespecially if its a job you cant afford to lose. I recently spokewith human resources expertSteven Kaneto discuss tips on dealing with a difficult supervisor. Heres some of his advice.
What Kind of Bully Is Your Boss?
Try not to take it personally if you have an overbearing and intimidating manager. Kane explains that bullying bosses typically come in three forms and not all are bad. He says most office bullying comes from the first type: bosses who are out of touch.
These are people who intend their comments or actions to be innocent, but theyre usually too out of the loop to see theyre having a negative effect on employees, says Kane.
Next is the highly critical boss who means to motivate but really serves to demoralize. And the last type is the run-of-the-mill jerk. These bosses are generally nasty without provocation or reason. Kane says understanding the theme of your bosss bullying is a great first step to developing solutions.
Talk It Out
Its a hard conversation to have, but the best thing you can do is take the issue directly to your boss first, says Kane. After all, s/he is the one directly responsible and with the most power to make a change. The strategy is to be properly armed for a discussion, not a confrontation, Kane warns. For a productive conversation, he suggests scheduling time to talk during the workday.
Dont accuse and dont complain, says Kane. Its a delicate situation and, if handled poorly, it can backfire.The most important thing is that he or she sees the behavior is having a negative effect on morale and/or your work. Resolving that should be presented as a win-win for you both.
So in the meeting, be polite and specific. Dates and details will help your boss pin down exact events where you felt bullied. Explain how it may have been distracting, and if bullying is apartof your bosss management style, offer alternatives to direct the conversation toward problem solving.
Time It Right
Next, if youre going to present your issues to the offending boss, Kane says do it in a timely manner. You dont want to wait monthseven yearsafter an offense. Wait instead until the first available moment to hash it out. According to Kane, your bosss assistant (if he or she has one) can help identify a good work-free moment to meet. Another tip: dont do it at lunch or another seemingly informal situation. Kane says it could leave your boss feeling ambushed and put him on the defensive.
Another great time to address the bullying is in your regular performance review. Thats your time to be honest. Companies take these meetings seriously, so be fair if you complain, and again, be specific. Provide examples and articulate what a favorable outcome would be for you.
Finally, if you cant have a conversation with your boss and the problems persist, Kane says it could be time to bring in another party. Professionals in your offices human resources department or your professional union can help you first identify if your problem has legal implications or violates any of your rights as an employee. Theyll also be able to provide you with proven conflict resolution tools and potentially mediate a conversation with your boss.
Donovan X. Ramsey is not a personal finance expert. Hes a multimedia journalist who writes about all things social, political, cultural and whimsical. After college, Donovan set out to discover everything he didnt know about the world of personal finance. Learn along with him weekly on EBONY.com as he explores more everyday money matters. Follow Donovan on Twitter@iDXRor atDonovanXRamsey.com.
- human resource