September 9, 2021

Bullying – Being a Bully as a Manager– Part 2

In today’s overly sensitive businessscape, many managers have been unjustly called bullies. Some of the definitions of a bully are:
• Offensive
• Intimidating
• Malicious or insulting behavior
• An abuse or misuse of power through means that undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure the recipient.

Because a lot of managers are passionate and driven to have themselves, and their teams, being as close to perfection as possible, they are called out & insulted as bullies. But are they really bullies or just hard-driving and know where they need to be and when?

Of course, co-workers, supervisors, & managers can also be bullies while at work. I had a bully for a district vice president, when I worked for Wells Fargo Guard Services in the 80s & 90s, and was that way until a severe stroke sidelined him in the late 90s (fortunately he recovered with only minor disabling issues). Corporate management called him driven but, in all respects, he managed by bullying and intimidation.

The question therefore arises, can you still be the hard-driving professional, without being a bully or can you walk the thin line between that and dedicated & driven to succeed? The obvious answer, in my opinion, is yes. Sometimes the difference is a very thin line easily crossed. And sometimes, like I have done in the past, and regretted, we cross that line and don’t realize it…until the splash back hits you.

The Difference
Anyone can be driven & dedicated to success. And being driven and pressing hard to get the job done…right, can make you an easy mark for being labeled a bully. But ask yourself these questions to see if you really are just a bully or driven;
• Do you berate or belittle co-workers when they do something wrong even if it is trivial, or anything at all?
• Do you fail to apologize for something you did or said wrong especially if you possibly said it wrong or in error?
• Do you express your satisfaction at a job well done by saying things like “About damn time”?
• Do you participate in teasing over a physical or mental abnormality?
• Do you tease an employee over an issue they had which embarrasses them?
• Do you yell, scream, and constantly ‘ride’ your employees until they do what you want?

Do you talk down to them like they are Imbecilic dolts?
• Are you liked, and respected, amongst your employees and peers, for treating them with respect and thanking them for a job well done?
• Do you allow personal feelings and stress rule your attitude at work?
• Do you threaten or intimidate to get what you want?

If you answered yes to any of these questions you might actually be a bully. Most bullies will never admit that they are actually bullying someone. Keep in mind that most people who are bullies are doing so by intimidation and being bigger, meaner, and stronger, and in a higher position, than others around them. And they are enabled by management or their peers.
One of the worst things about bullies is that they remain bullies simply because no one ever calls them on it. And if you do try to call them out, report them, or take disciplinary action, you could be looking at a lawsuit, disciplined, or worse being terminated. The enablers within the company will ensure that something happens, especially if the bully is a top performer or is favored.

Being Dedicated
So, what are the differences between being a bully and dedicated or driven to success in your job? The following points may help differentiate the two. Look at the above list and compare them to this one;
• Do you apologize when you are wrong?
• Do you express gratitude for their work in making you look good, if they did their jobs correctly then you would not look so good?
• Do you stop unnecessary teasing, especially if it goes on ad nauseum?
• Do you talk to your employees on their level and not like a drill sergeant?
• Do you treat them all the same, as humans and not chattel, in other words with empathy and sympathy?
• Do you try to nurture their instincts and skills to make them and yourself look better?
• Do your employees know how you want the job done correctly?
• Do you teach and coach instead of push and prod?
• Are your employees knowledgeable about doing the job right?
• Have you told your employees what you expect from them?

If you answered yes to these questions, you are probably dedicated, driven, and press to get the job done right and not a bully. Keep in mind that you may be accused of being a bully and therefore you will have to defend everything you do and say or risk being disciplined or fired.

Does a good manager have to bully employees at times? Sometimes you do in order to get them to do the right thing, some employees only respond to being pushed harder by bullying. But also remember that if you and your crew are Sympatico, whatever you say needs to be done, they will jump in and do it efficiently, effectively, and immediately.

Some of us have been accused of being bullies and in reality, all that happened is that we are hard driving, dedicated, blunt, direct, and straight forward towards our other employees and clients/customers. And if you present the facts in such a blunt fashion, as I do so as to cut through the bullshit, to someone you could be called a bully.

The question you have to ask yourself is simple: how am I managing my people. Am I a bully or just driven to be successful…for the entire team and company? I am still called a bully for the reason of trying to keep people safe…while others say thank you for the same language in the same meeting.

It happens to Anyone…Any Time…Any Where… For any Reason

I May Be Blind, but My Vision Is Crystal Clear

Permission to share? Of course, with full attribution.
Copyright 2021 Robert D. Sollars

Workplace Violence
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