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Signs of management bullying

Signs of management bullying

European Business Listicle 41/2018

Bullying by colleagues in the workplace is quite common. However, there is also a special form of systematic bullying by the management, which is intended to belittle employees or to scare them. Do you have the feeling that your boss has you on his hit list? We have summarized how to recognize management bullying and what you can do about it.

Signs of management bullying

1. Tasks are taken away from you

The tasks which you are responsible for, and which would enable you to really show what you are capable of, are taken away from you. Instead, you are given trivial tasks, which are boring and bear no relation to your abilities or qualifications.

2. Your workload is constantly increased

In contrast to the first point, one management bullying tactic is to massively overload you with work. You are continually given more tasks, which are either not realistically achievable or which cannot possibly be completed by the deadline you are given. The result is that you simply can’t do your job any more.

3. Your manager criticizes you constantly and subjectively

Constructive feedback can be very helpful. A bullying manager, however, will criticize you constantly, unconstructively, and without any factual basis. Often, you don’t know what you have done wrong or how you can improve.

4. You are isolated

You are separated from other colleagues and have to work in another office or in another corner of an open office, although there is no recognizable reason for it.

5. You are being controlled

Your work and the way you do it are controlled and analyzed to the nth degree. Colleagues are rarely controlled, while your work is constantly under the microscope.

6. Your work output is manipulated

To damage your reputation, your boss manipulates your work so that it doesn’t look as good as it did when you finished it, with the aim of creating resistance to you from other colleagues or departments.

7. Important information is withheld from you

To do your work well, you often need information from other departments. If the management deliberately withholds important information from you so that you can’t achieve your work goals, that is another sign of management bullying.

8. You are the subject of rumours spread around the office

Management bullying may also involve slander. Targeted rumours about you, or even slander, are intended to damage your reputation.

9. You are threatened with warnings or dismissal

Even though you produce good work, you are threatened with warnings or even dismissal, to make you insecure. There is often no concrete reason for the threat, so you don’t know what you have done wrong.

This is what you can do

1. Talk to your manager

Do you suspect that you are being bullied by your manager, although it is not yet particularly obvious? Then discuss this with the respective manager involved. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding. In any case, a discussion will help you to evaluate the situation.

2. Speak to your Works Council or Human Resources department

If a personal discussion doesn’t help, go further up the hierarchy, for example to the Human Resources department or the boss of the manager who is bullying you. If it is the managing director themself who is bullying you, then the Works Council may be able to help. The Equal Opportunities commission or your trade union may also be able to support you.

3. Seek support

It doesn’t have to be therapy as such, but it can really help to talk to outsiders and gain another perspective. Colleagues are not necessarily the best people to help in this situation, because they may be worried about becoming a victim of management bullying themselves. Talk to family, friends or even a professional person such as a coach or legal advisor. You will not be able to solve the problem alone.

4. Gather evidence

Can you prove that your boss is bullying you? Collect evidence, for example emails or another written correspondence, and note which colleagues can attest to the events. Insults and other forms of bullying are punishable, so it is worthwhile gathering proof. 


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