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Workplace Bullying Part 1 - The Bullying Boss

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 15-10-2015

How to deal with a bullying boss and get a positive result...

I’ve recently been coaching a client who has been the victim of extreme work based bullying. She wanted me to tell her story in the hope that it may help others. I’ve obviously changed names for confidentiality reasons, but can assure you that events are exactly as she told them to me. My client’s name is Jane and this is her story ...

 

“With over 20 years senior management experience in a number of blue chip companies, I’ve dealt with my share of difficult people. My worst experience was with an ex-boss. He gave me 18 months of real hell. Anything and everything I did was wrong. He wouldn’t listen to me when I gave my (considered) opinion; I was cut out of any decision making; I was ostracised from his ‘inner’ circle … a little clique that still makes me feel sick when I think about them. He did absolutely everything he could to discredit me and to make my life as totally miserable as possible.

I decided to leave following ‘a straw that broke the camel’s back’ moment, when I had a supposed ‘formal performance review’ with him and he told me that I wasn’t performing to expectations. I would have had a little more respect for him had he been able to give me examples of where my performance was lacking or if he could he tell me what I needed to do to improve, when I pushed him on it, he couldn’t answer me. By this point, I was totally broken. For 18 months I’d worked crazy hours under the most immense pressure with absolutely no support. I cracked. I just couldn’t take anymore.

I went home that night and informed my friends and family that I was resigning. Incredibly, everyone I told said how relieved they were! They all said (without exception) that they had been terribly worried about me as they could see the awful state I was in, not only because I’d lost over a stone in weight (I was thin to begin with and couldn't afford to lose weight) and looked absolutely awful, but the fact that I’d all but abandoned them because I was always working. The worse his behaviour got, the more hours I would do to try and prove that I was good at my job!

Looking back, the longer I worked, the less effective and distressed I was becoming, which played straight into his hands. The next day, I went to see him and calmly told him I was resigning as I wasn’t prepared to be disrespected any longer. Strangely enough, I had never felt so calm and I could see he was totally un-nerved. In fact, he went crazy! He was extremely angry, but I wasn’t going to let this man hurt me anymore, so I told him that I didn’t want to hear what he had to say and that I’d made my mind up.

I left very unceremoniously, however, I did receive an enormous amount of cards, e-mails, flowers and other presents from my colleagues that were all totally unexpected. Over the 18 months, my boss had made me feel that everyone hated me and that they would be pleased to see the back of me … not true, not true at all. I had a lovely little leaving ‘do’ with a select crowd. As for my boss? Once I had resigned he suddenly turned very friendly (obviously very concerned about what I would tell people about him). He even left a bottle of champagne with his secretary for me … as far as I’m aware, she still has it!”

 

Sadly, Jane’s story is all too familiar. Work place bullying is a fact of life, but it doesn’t have to ruin your life. Bullies tend to be bullies for a number of reasons which may be conscious or subconscious:

  1. They feel threatened by you - people often feel threatened by those who they perceive to know more than them or who they think are stronger than them
  2. They are insecure about themselves and their ability and consciously or subconsciously think that you can see through their lack of knowledge/experience
  3. You make them feel inadequate and putting you down, makes them feel better about themselves
  4. They haven't realised that you don't need to bully to get the best out of people!  They were managed by bullying bosses and think that’s the way they should manage. This is usually evident in people who have been promoted to the position of manager because of their technical knowledge and not their people skills.

Unfortunately, the person on the receiving end of bullying rarely sees any of this (which is exactly what the bully wants) and slowly their self confidence is eroded.  It can be devastating.

In my next post, I’ll give you my top tips for dealing with bullies, in the meantime, I’ll leave you with a quote that I absolutely love that sums this topic up quite nicely:

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

If you, or someone you know has been or is currently being the victim of bullying, please give us a call to discuss how we can help you move forward with confidence and regain your life and self esteem.  Alternatively, if you're a business who require help with victims of workplace bullying, please call us about our corporate services.

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