Unfortunately, some bullies don’t grow up, they just grow older. And dealing with a workplace bully can be just as challenging as dealing with a bully in middle school, but instead of stealing your lunch they could be stealing your ideas and innovations.
He told Chris Dorobek on the Dorobek Insider Program how to spot a federal bully.
Tom's advice for dealing with a workplace bully:
- Have a private conversation with the manager. It won’t be easy, but you need to talk to the offending manager. If there are others who also feel bullied, perhaps you can schedule some time as a group for a closed-door conversation.
- Do not start with an accusation. Don’t automatically assume that the manager is intentionally trying to belittle you and other employees, or otherwise purposely trying to intimidate people or make them uncomfortable. That implies you know the manager’s motivation, which you cannot know with certainty.
- Focus on a factual description of the behavior and how it affected you. Your manager may not understand the impact of his behavior. So in as hypothetical example, you might say, “I asked for this meeting because you may not be aware of how something that you did is really bothering me. The other day at our staff meeting, you raised your voice and told me that I was being inconsiderate by asking for leave next week when the workload is piling up. All I could think about was how embarrassing it was to be yelled at in front of my co-workers and that you didn’t give me a chance to explain that I have a family emergency.”
- Be clear how a change in behavior could make a positive difference. Explain that in the future when your manager is angered that you would appreciate having a private discussion so you can offer your point of view. Point out that it’s easier to concentrate on getting the job done if there is open, civil communication rather than a negative, attack approach.