While researching workplace bullies it made me think back to a job, I had years ago, for which I had a manager that I considered to be more of a "thug" than a boss. Let's call him "Mr Bully Boss". Those who "obeyed" Mr Bully Boss were part of his "inner circle" and those who didn't, were made to feel like outcasts.
He intimidated many of the female staff - getting annoyed if they didn't take kindly to his frequent advances. The females that gave-in and either went to have social drinks with him, or allowed him to harass them, got promoted. The girls that didn't were classed as rejects and he'd insinuate they never met his requirements anyway, that they were not good enough for him and that they were bad employees.
The guys went along with whatever Mr Bully Boss wanted and allowed him to push them around and manipulate them as he pleased, playing them off against each other. They were afraid that going against him would cause too much conflict.. and these guys wanted to earn more money and get promoted.
Where did I stand in all of this…?
I was classed as one of the female outcasts. I refused to be a part of my bullying bosses charade. After seeing some girls crying one day, because of his harassment, I got angry and made it clear about what I thought about the boss (who was also a CEO of the company). The girls who were crying (and some of the guys who were also standing by) ran straight to Mr Bully Boss and told him what I said. So I got hauled into the office.
The office had glass walls. And I could see everyone hiding around corners and behind pillars, spying, thinking that I would end up in tears and getting my butt kicked. This didn't happen. I admit I was shaking a little - but mainly from fury!
I quickly planned in my head, on the way into the office, exactly what I was going to say. And said it. I stood my ground, and listed all the things that were going on in regards to his bullying and harassing of the workers - and that I refused to submit to his mistreatment. He was furious and told me I would be moved to another location of the company. He also informed me I was a trouble maker and that I would end up getting the sack if I continued with these "accusations".
I walked out of the office - still angry - but thrilled to bits with myself for standing up to this guy. The other employees that were hiding all quickly took off back to their duties. I pretty much figured I'd resign, or if another location of the company was free from his clutches, I'd be happy to move there.
Mr Bully Boss was renowned for his underhanded tactics in the company - yet he'd been allowed to continue to behave like this for so long he thought it was his God given right to do so. However, at the other locations of the company - where he had been before - he'd left a trail of unhappy employees.
One of the other CEOs (a decent and understanding boss, that everyone loved) from another section of the company heard about my confrontation (as gossip ran rife in this large company) and they contacted the big boss (who ran the whole company) at head office -- who then contacted me. I was informed that they were pleased with me for taking a stand and that Mr Bully Boss CEO was going to be moved somewhere else within the company. Which is hardly a solution… but anyway…
I asked, after being fed up with the people I worked with for not backing me up, if I could still be moved to another location as I was looking forward to getting the heck out of there.
I did. When I arrived, on my first day at the new location they'd bought me champagne and chocolates - and they cheered - saying how pleased they were with me that someone finally had the backbone to stand up to Mr Bully Boss.
By the way… to prove that bullies in the workplace don't always win…
The Mr Bully Boss CEO was arrested a few weeks later at a work function (at a pub) for assaulting one of his employees. What a jerk!
Bullying is everywhere. I've seen bullies in most workplaces I've been employed. And at three company's for which there have been extreme bullying - which seemed unstoppable. I worked in an industry that I trained and became qualified in, believing that people would be focused more on the clients wellbeing - however I was young and naive back then and was extemely disappointed when my dreams were shattered.
I have spoken with many people since then, in many different industries, for which they've experienced simliar circumstances -- all of which lead to them resigning, having a breakdown or destroying their self confidence to the point where they've felt like they have little reason to exist. How can bullies be so cruel?
I think it's vital that workplaces make available resources for employees who are being bullied. Companies and businesses need to show that workplace bullying will not be tolerated