Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where does it come from?

In relation to my last post and a few other blogs that I follow, I thought I'd continue with this thought....

Where does the bullying come from?
In my line of work, we deal daily with people that have suffered a loss. A sympathetic ear and comforting words and actions, are what we do best. However, I have my secondary job in retail. Over the years I have seen many "bosses" come and go. Some are a pleasure to work for. Others you dread when their name is mentioned. What's the difference? How they go about getting their job done. They both have to set goals and try to achieve them. The first kind of boss will give you a goal along with the necessary tools to get to the desired results. The other will tell you what your goal is and expect you to get it done. Granted, you are hired to do a job and should be competent enough to figure it out. Where the trouble comes in is how it is presented.

We recently had a change in middle management in our company. The contrast between the old and new district managers (DM) is enormous. The new DM sends out emails that say things like "This MUST be done by Monday!" or "This is unacceptable!". While these statement may be true, I think there are better ways to get your team on board with your goals. We never received emails like that from the old DM. Both styles get the results eventually. But the fact is, we are now being bullied into getting the work done. If you ask me, this perpetuates. If you have someone yelling at you all day, you are going to go home and yell at your kids...." You have to mow the lawn!" or "Take that trash out!" The child then learns to yell at his/her friends to get whatever they want. And when someone doesn't fit with what they see as normal, they tend to call that to every one's attention.

In my opinion, yelling gets you no where. And an exclamation point in an email, constitutes yelling. So does ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. This style of management should not be tolerated by the corporate world. It is surprising to me that it is let go. It's an email. It can be forwarded to anyone and saved for evidence against you. Why do we put up with it? Because we let them intimidate us. We let them push us around.

This is a form of bullying. It's a grown up version, but bullying all the same. We should expect that the children will take what they learn from us and give it an immature twist.

Even our corporate policy on diversity at the store is forced on us instead of embraced. The fact that if you're "caught" saying something against someone you can be terminated, is a threat. Instead we should be taught by example. What I've learned, is that some people don't understand examples. If it's not a rule or a threat, than they just don't understand.

So, how do I cope with the bullying at work?
I apply my skills from my other job. I understand that these people are acting the only way they know how. I don't fight back. I show them "my way" whenever I can. It's rare that I make any noise and cause a commotion. And if I can effect even just one other person, then I have done my job.

Do we need to fire those at the top that are bullying us?
No. We need to show them there are other ways. By being that example, it's likely that we will go far. And if your company decides to side with the bully, then perhaps there's someplace better out there for your skills.

I believe that this is where bullying comes from. It's become so commonplace in our world that no one even notices it. And they don't see that our kids are learning it.
Email, text, tweets and any other electronic ways of communicating can be impersonal for those making the comments. It's rare that they would say something like that to your face. But for the person on the receiving end, it can be taken even harder than the spoken word. It can be read over and over until you actually start to believe it. It hurts.

Laws will not change this. We just need to stop teaching the kids that this is how to get things done.
Lead by example.


Lana from Farm Life Lessons said...

I cannot stand workplace bullies either. I've been blessed to have enjoyed success and to have owned a company with associates/workers, and I might sound assertive at times because I simply must get to the point, but I NEVER bully anyone. I don't need to...all of us are adults and the expectations of each of us are known and I let them get to it, as they need, and in the method that works best for them. Now, I've also had the big jerk boss come at me yelling and just being inappropriate with this constant anger and I finally said, "Whenever you can compose yourself and speak to me on a professional level, we can resume this conversation, but I will not speak with you while your emotions are so highly charged."

Yes, it's risky, but it always worked for me. And, it taught these people that I was not the person to go ranting and raving to because I would not accept that kind of behavior. Bosses learn who they can stomp's an ego trip. It's also good to say, "Your wound up emotions and anger issues come out in your voice and actions, making your point less effective. Could you tell me in a more professional and composed manner what you are trying to express so that it can actually be understood?

Anyway, these bully bosses are everywhere. My mother-in-law was a bully boss and even though she's retired, she tries to do it at my house. It is very frustrating and we want to kick her out. She yells and issues orders and brags about her "delegating" skills. I want to tell her that she is delegating nothing but misery and to shut her useless trap. But, she's FAMILY. Augh.

betty said...

I think these days there are more workplace bullies; hubby has been doing his particular job (until he quit this past January to pursue a different course) for over 25 years. His last position just about did him in with the bullying you alluded to here, Stew, that under current of threat in attempts to get the work done. They drove many a good employee away because of it.

I get a bit of it with in my work situation, but working at home in a virtual type of setting, I can see the "threats" in the emails and choose like you, to do the best work I can with what I have to work with, with the talents I have.

I fear with the way things are going with the economy, etc, it will probably only get worse and then continue to filter down within families.....


MorningAJ said...

Unfortunately my boss "owns" the business. (It's complicated, but that's the only way I can describe it in a few words)

A lot of people have tried to show him that he's wrong. He's ended up costing us a lot of money in compensation to the series of people who have left with stress. I tried to change things but ended up ill myself. I have been looking for a new job for over a year but have had no success. I'm still looking.

Sometimes bullies are beyond help.

Unknown said...

Fortunately we don't deal with the district manager very much. We have a wonderful manager. Our staff has been in tack for more than four years.
Other stores have a constant turnover of employees. I believe that it's all in the management style. Poor bosses will have the expense and hassle of constantly training new staff.
People will only put up with it for so long.

Jim said...

Very well put Stew! Example, example, example!

Anonymous said...

You pretty much said what i could not effectively communicate. +1

My blog:
DSL Vergleich klick hier

laurak/ForestWalkArt :) said...

you're right. i think showing a better way to deal with problems and better than 'firing'...because then they'll just go someplace else and do it all over again to others. it's who they are, and chances are they're not going to change (not when they're adults anyway)

i think the ones that BULLY are unhappy, miserable, uncaring people who have no respect for anyone else. especially for themselves...they take out their misery on everyone else.