Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Dealing with a workplace bully is never fun. Workplace bullies are people who use threats
and intimidation to get their way which makes each day of work miserable. Sometimes these people have litigated authority within the organization, and sometimes they do not. These people are insecure individuals and have difficulty seeing value in others and hate sharing the spotlight with anyone. So why do organizations put up with them? Simple, they ‘get stuff done' (no matter what). The downside to this is that there is a long-term adverse effect with ‘getting stuff done' (no matter what) that seldom comes into consideration until the bully’s behavior is directly tied to profits. That can be difficult for some organizations to realize.
The bully’s effect on business culture
Bullies have an enormous negative impact on a business’s culture. Well duh. Right? They prevent the organization from growing, and in some cases they kill it. These people have dominating and intimidating personalities. Their insecurities force them to lash out at others who are better than them. They have learned over time how to work their boss and create an atmosphere where the boss truly believes that the bully is the only one that can be counted on to get stuff done. When the stuff doesn’t get done, the bully turns around and blames others for being incompetent which makes the boss believe the bully is that much more important. After all, who is going to get the stuff done at the end of the day?
When the boss is a bully
Organizations that have managers that are bullies see high turnover, poor quality, late delivery of products and services, dissatisfied customers, and low profits. The organization may be able to get stuff done, but there always seems to be bodies in the wake of the completed work. Employees hate to come to work and the last thing they think about when getting stuff done is the customer. A strange pattern emerges each time the bully gets stuff done – it becomes less and less effective – and costs more with each subsequent iteration.
When bullies get fired
You may think that getting rid of bullies would have an immediate positive impact on the organization; however, this is not always the case. I have seen many organizations struggle because the bully was doing so much good work in secret that it can take months for the organization to regain control by reassigning the bully’s duties.
HOWEVER, once the bully has been removed from the workplace there will be an enormous gain in morale, productivity, and teamwork. The people who are still with the organization will pull together to prove that they can do the jobs they were hired for. Customers will become relevant again, Go figure. Profits will begin to climb, turnover will slow, and the employer will have a much-improved pool of potential employees.
Advice on firing a bully: If this person has been with you for any length of time, you’ve got to remember that they have been working you. They have done everything in their power to create as much fear in you to drive up their value. They’ve told you so many times how screwed up things are and how many times they swooped in to save the day. Without them, the company would be in ruins. Right? Yah Bullshit! They made you believe something that is entirely untrue. That hesitation you have about firing them is FEAR. Grab on to that fear with both hands! You will see that it is unwarranted. You will be able to replace the bully with someone better - Believe that!
When the owner is a bully
If you are a business owner and you are a bully, here are some things you will see: High turnover, an inability to attract qualified employees, personal frustration, eroding profits, troubled home life, burn out, and a general pissed off attitude towards the rest of the world. You're miserable, and you do know why.
The best advice anyone can give someone in this situation is to stop hosting pity parties for yourself. You created this hell on earth, and you do have the ability to change it; however, it is unlikely that you will. If you refuse to change your behavior, accept what you have and come to terms that it will never get better. Do your best to run your company your way but don’t expect it to grow or be able to find good people to work for you. When you finally reach your breaking point, sell your business for whatever you can, keep in mind, it will be far less than you think it is worth, if it’s worth anything at all.
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