Friday, August 17, 2018

Why Some Bosses Bully the Superstars

   General Attributes of Bully Bosses

a) Exhibit extremely mean and vile behavior towards the targets – generally a handful of employees within the department/hierarchy.

b) Malice is rarely performance, work or ethics related.  

c) Enjoy (sadistic) pleasure in maligning targets in meetings in front of colleagues and others.

d) Insignificant stimulus triggers their bi-polar behavior towards the targets, often followed by an indecent and tangential rant.

e) Evaluate targets poorly with very derogatory narratives, atrociously ignoring their actual and on-record performances.

f) Enjoy humiliating targets with deliberately antagonistic stance and actions, systematically removing them from all major tasks, projects, groups and committees.

g) Relocate (or constantly threaten to relocate) targets to unfitting setting.

Why Some Bosses Bully Existing Superstars
Answer – Inferiority Complex

1) Incompetent bosses (hired or promoted due to high-level connections, nepotism, political appointments, etc.) often suffer from serious inferiority complex in managing the highly competent staff members (“superstars”).

2) Unfortunately, some of those incompetent bosses (who are also inherently angry and arrogant) grow into bullies fearing significant resistance from within.  

3) As a result, those bullies aggressively target the superstars (to start with), routinely walking down on the curve until the mission has been accomplished.

4) They even entice the “safe” enthusiasts (none is ever safe with these bullies!) to collaborate alongside, jointly reining in on the top targets, promptly and decisively.

5) Peers remain mum, to avoid having to cut a sorry figure with the power backing the bully.

6) The higher-ups usually look the other way, paving the way for least resistance – for a collective and glorious victory. 
7) The hand-picked investigators of the top bullies are sometimes accomplices too, protecting the evil and sacrificing the coveted.

Why Some Bosses Hire Superstars and then Bully Them
Answer – To Steal Domain Knowledge

8) The bullies that are obsessed with visibility and cheap credit often resort to this strategy: They hire industry experts and when the department shows potential, they start to exhibit their true color.

9) Of course, until then, they tend to be very quiescent, generally polite and encouraging – just to accentuate the pace of delivery, i.e. transfer of knowledge/know-how and implementation. 

10) These bullies realize that the presence of the superstars lowers their image and power so they strike at the first opportune moment.

11) Additionally, they trade on the fact that the superstars, unlike the other employees, would not stick around too long should the situation deteriorate, so they intensify the assault, often exponentially, to accentuate the pace.

What Happens When the Superstars are Bullied

a) The non-confrontational folks easily give up, accepting the writing on the wall. They start searching for new jobs, including within the same organization.

b) Depending on the atrocity being inflicted, some even quit without landing new jobs, knowing very well it’s easier to switch than having to start afresh.

c) The confrontational counterpart (without the union backing, etc.) wishfully lingers on, evaluates legal rights, and explores other avenues including therapy – until, of course, the inevitable hits the fan!

d) The other confrontational kind (with backing) tries to survive with the needed help from the backers – outcome is usually a toss-up depending on the power of the local leadership.

e) These superstars are the ultimate producers, taking utmost care of the concerned consumers around – mostly selflessly. Their departure often leaves a long-term vacuum.

f) The cycle (of violence) continues until a seismic shake-up in management or an unprecedented external pressure/ movement pushes them off the cliff!

Workplace Bullying Institute – 2017 Stats

(Click on the image to enlarge)

Don't let these bullies destroy your career. Seek help. Good Luck!

Disclaimer - The “bully bosses" portrayed here are hypothetical in nature and any likeness to  any individual or entity is strictly coincidental. The author is not offering this presentation as professional services advice in any shape, form or manner whatsoever. Every institution is different, so seek the advice of a competent professional before making any changes to your existing program(s).

Sid Som, MBA, MIM
President, Homequant, Inc.

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