When most people think of the word bully, they picture their grade school or teenage years. Unfortunately, bullying can also carry over into adulthood. If you think there may be a bully boss in your company, it’s important to know which signs to watch out for.
Read on for ways to determine if you’re dealing with a bully boss.
10 Ways to See if You Have a Bully Boss
1. They Humiliate Their Employees in Public
One telltale sign of a bully boss is that they have no problem embarrassing their employees in front of their co-workers or their other supervisors. They may take one of the below actions:
- Tease and make jokes at the employee’s expense;
- Offend them;
- Swear or yell at them;
- Unfairly criticize them;
- Make offhanded remarks.
This is bound to make everyone, other than the boss, uncomfortable. So complaints may come from the attacked employee himself or from those who witness the humiliation.
2. They Set the Employee Up for Failure
Every job comes with a certain amount of goal-setting and expectation. However, a bully boss will make the goal so unattainable that the employee has no option but to fail. The below are all ways that a bully boss will set their employee up for failure.
- Setting impossible-to-meet deadlines
- Creating project guidelines that are unclear or difficult to understand;
- Keeping information private even though the employee needs it.
Ultimately, the boss is trying to sabotage the employee. This is done easily by giving them an assignment they will not be able to complete. Other ways of setting an employee up to fail include not agreeing to sign off on projects and not providing constructive criticism.
3. A Bully Boss Loses Temper
A big part of managing others is being able to stay calm under pressure. A bully boss, though, may regularly lose their temper even at small things.
It’s common for bullies to get angry at seemingly insignificant things. This is especially if those things affect their influence or control over their employees. It’s also common for the boss to take their anger out on people in lower positions.
4. They Push Their Employees to be Even More Committed
There’s a difference between celebrating an employee who goes above and beyond their job and an employee who feels they’ll be punished if they don’t overachieve. There can be times when a boss demands that their employees sacrifice their personal life by working long hours or on weekends.
Imagine this particularly on a regular basis. Then they demonstrate that they don’t respect the employee. Being asked to do extra once in a while is one thing. But being made to feel like your job is at risk or your commitment is questioned if you don’t over-work is another.
5. They Purposely Don’t Include the Employee
Oftentimes, a bully boss with try to isolate the employee. This could mean that the employee isn’t invited to in-office celebrations or work parties.
They may not learn about meetings that are held with the rest of the staff. They may not be involved in decisions that affect their job. This is all because the boss purposely makes these decisions when the employee is not in the office.
6. They Take Credit That’s Not Truly Theirs
Employees who have had a bully boss may find that they lack credit for their accomplishments. This is because their boss steals the limelight. What employees do does reflect on the boss’ ability to manage. So the employee should get credit when credit’s due.
A good boss will want people to know how successful their employee is. But a bully boss will take the spotlight away. It is for them to make themselves look better and. In effect, they make the employee look worse.
7. They Overstep Privacy Boundaries
A bully boss may spy on their employees or, in extreme situations, stalk them. Also, the boss may go through the employee’s email or regular mail.
They may even sift through their drawers, poke around their desk or listen in on their phone calls. Often, the point of this is to find something to use against the employee.
8. They’re Never Available to Offer Feedback
Some bosses have extremely packed schedules. Therefore, it can be difficult to find time to sit down with each and every employee on a regular basis. However, the employee may find that they never get a chance to speak with their boss about a project they need help with or to ask for feedback. This could be a sign of a bully boss.
It is possible that the boss simply doesn’t realize they’re MIA. But it could also be a sign that they’re purposely trying to hinder the performance of their employee.
9. They Make it Impossible to Grow or Succeed in the Company
A bully boss does not want their employees to succeed. They will do whatever it takes to impede their success. Here are some examples of what they may do.
- Punish the employee even if they aren’t responsible for a mistake that was made.
- Deny requests for a transfer.
- Come up with excuses for why the employee can’t apply for a promotion.
- Deny the employee necessary job training.
This behavior can be difficult to spot. But one sign that it’s happening is if the boss micro-manages the employee on a regular basis. Or, they may make promises about promotions or raises. But when the employee holds up their end of the deal, those promises never get carried out.
10. The Employee Is Constantly Stressed
Even a demanding job shouldn’t leave employees exhausted, anxious and stressed week to week. The employee may say that they can’t escape the demands of work. They may even do so when they’re at home with their family. This could mean that they’re dealing with a bully boss, which is wreaking havoc on their peace of mind.
To Sum It Up
There are all sorts of ways a bully boss will exercise their control. Knowing the red flags will make it easier to spot a bully in the workplace. You can do this especially if one or more employees come to you with complaints.
Have you ever had to deal with a bully boss? Tell us about your experience.
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