Is Your Boss a Bully or Bigot?
Attention CEOs in corporate America and around the world: whether you know it or not, there are “monster managers” lurking within the confines of your company.
These mid-level managers and front-line supervisors can turn a productive workplace into a cesspool. However, you might not know it because monster managers aren’t always easy to spot from the C-suite.
There are three compelling business reasons why executive leaders should fire monster managers (as I call them):
1) Lost Productivity
2) Legal Liability
3) Bad PR & Brand Damage
Monster managers not only poison the work environment but also cost companies countless dollars in lost productivity.
These unsavory characters can make an employee’s work-life miserable. The unenviable result is less engagement, lower job satisfaction, plummeting morale and increased absenteeism — all of which are detrimental to the performance and productivity of any organization.
Moreover, monster managers can wreak legal havoc for a company and cause PR nightmares which taint the brand. This usually occurs when brave workers who are victimized by brutish bosses publicly “blow the whistle” in the news media because they just can’t take the abuse anymore.
But this doesn’t occur often enough. Usually, the targeted workers are forced to suffer in silence.
The C-suite and HR must play a greater role in identifying and banishing monster managers from the workplace to promote a more productive workforce.
While it’s true that some monster managers make the proverbial trains run on time, they also prevent the team from doing its best work by derailing employee productivity through fear tactics and abusive behavior.
Some targeted employees might be so intimated that they hide in restroom stalls or dive under their desk when the monster manager lurks nearby.
Although most savvy companies foster positive work environments on a macro level, it’s likely that at least a few mid-level monster managers are causing big trouble at the micro level. That is, behind the scenes and without the knowledge of the C-suite.
But what defines a monster manager?
They can often be described as malicious, vicious, insidious, toxic or draconian in their adverse actions toward targeted employees.
Most monster managers fall under two broad categories: bullies and bigots.
Bullying bosses abuse their management authority by abusing their employees. They isolate staff and then divide and conquer them individually.
Monster managers target some innocent employees for management abuse, while selecting others for favoritism. The bullying tactics are always based on non-job related factors that have nothing to do with performance.
Monster managers bully staff with an abundance of malice under the guise of micromanagement. They use multiple fear tactics including, but not limited to, the following:
- Intimidating employees with frequent loud verbal outbursts ridden with expletives and crude physical gestures.
- Humiliating victims by demeaning them during staff meetings or in the halls in front of co-workers.
- Clock watching and obsessing over minor infractions in time and attendance, rather than focusing on bottom-line results.
- Constantly looking over their target’s shoulders, literally and figuratively, for the smallest mistake or excuse to castigate them.
- Disciplining staff unnecessarily based on irrational reasoning for minor mistakes — or lambasting employees for no legitimate reason at all.
- Playing “mind games” by consistently contacting (stalking) workers after hours, on weekends, holidays, vacations, sick days, etc.
- Dumping asinine assignments and laborious administrative tasks on senior employees when lower level staff should be handling it.
Such shoddy management maneuvers eviscerate any semblance of employee motivation, job satisfaction and company loyalty.
Monster managers make the workplace a dangerous place for their victims and co-workers, resulting in lower overall performance and productivity. Their reckless behavior not only negatively affects individual employees, but often has a ripple effect which extends to the entire team. Consider these statistics:
Some monster managers thrive on harassment and discrimination. Bigoted managers harbor racist, sexist, ageist or homophobic views which manifest within the office setting.
They target innocent and hard working employees for unlawful reasons based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, pregnancy, etc.
Monster managers might harass female or male employees, both verbally and physically based on any number of unlawful factors (as noted above).
Bad bosses, for example, can create sexually hostile work environments and/or engage in quid pro quo harassment by demanding sexual favors in exchange for some work benefit (like a pay raise or promotion).
Monster managers can prey upon young workers on their first jobs — many of whom are unaware of their employment rights and vulnerable to exploitation. And, if all that weren’t bad enough, monster managers often resort to knee-jerk reactions via retaliation.
Retaliation usually occurs when victims are brave enough to speak out against unlawful conduct and file complaints with Human Resources (HR) or the government.
Retaliation often means victims are subjected to at least a double dose of discrimination. Moreover, employers should be mindful that federal courts have ruled they can be held liable for retaliation even if an employee’s initial complaint is found to lack merit.
Monster managers tend to favor, mentor and promote selected staff for frivolous and superficial reasons— such as, they look and act like the manager or constantly “kiss up” to the boss.
Even in a diverse workplace, some bigoted managers might use racial, ethnic and sexist slurs to harass employees behind closed doors or degrade them to co-workers behind their back.
Employees who are subjected to discrimination often dread going to work and are prevented by the monster managers from doing their best work.
All of the aforementioned unprofessional, unlawful or unethical conduct by monster managers is obviously detrimental to a positive and productive work environment.
A healthy workplace is one in which all employees can reach their full potential by harnessing their unique talents and abilities.
In essence, monster managers hurt bottom-line productivity by wreaking havoc and fear mongering under false pretense. The result is a toxic workplace with panic-stricken staff doing substandard work.
The C-suite and HR need to wake up to this unfortunate reality. They need to show leadership by identifying and permanently ousting monster managers.
It’s time for top executives to stop protecting monster managers. This only results in a lose-lose situation for labor and management alike.
Remember that monster managers, if left unchecked, can spread like a cancer and debilitate an entire office or division. That’s also why targeted workers need to be brave and stay strong.
There needs to be more “whistle blowing” by employees and less cowering to management abuse and unlawful conduct. Discrimination, harassment and retaliation simply have no place in a productive workplace.
The only thing monster managers deserve is being kicked to the curbside. And the only way that happens is when victims stand up and speak out.
You also might like:
- How Monster Managers Ruin Work Culture
- Should Managers Be Feared or Loved?
- Time’s Up for Men to Speak Out Against Sexual Harassment
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: David is a strategic communications consultant, freelance writer and former federal government spokesman based in the Washington, DC-area. A native New Yorker, David was a journalist prior to his career of public service. You can also find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
NOTE: All views and opinions are those of the author only and not official statements or endorsements of any public sector employer, private sector employer, organization or political entity.