Dump the bully boss?

For many years, I have joined those who call upon employers to dump bullying bosses who will not, or cannot, change their ways.  Retaining abusive bosses is manifestly unfair, and even cruel, to other workers.  Oftentimes these individuals can have a devastating effect on morale and productivity.

If you don’t think a bullying boss rents too much mental space in the heads of his or her targets, think again.  Recently I talked to a woman who confessed that she regularly finds herself humming “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from The Wizard of Oz in hopeful contemplation of her bullying boss’s eventual demise.

That’s why I was happy to come across this blog post from the summer by Joy Chen, a friend of this blog, former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, and the founder of her own headhunting firm, who raised the question of whether to show the door to a bullying boss:

My primary message regarding that bully in your ranks is: Cut Him (or Her) Loose.  That said, I understand that . . . you may conclude that your bully brings too much benefit to cut loose, at least in the short term. It’s a recession, and revenue is revenue.

It’s a deal with the devil.  But if you have to make it, you don’t have to lose your soul – or leave your colleagues in harm’s way. Focus on gaining the benefits of the ‘achiever’ – such as his ability to bring in new business or solve technically demanding problems.  Meanwhile, remove his management responsibilities.  Reassign his direct reports and otherwise isolate him to minimize his destructiveness to the rest of the organization.  You’ll be doing your people, and yourself, a favor.

I’m especially thankful when folks in the rough-and-tumble business world suggest that firing a bullying boss may be a good move for an organization.  You see world, it’s not just liberal activist/academic types like me saying this!  Bullying is bad for everyone!

Joy’s post also confronts the dilemma of what to do when the bully is a rainmaker.  It’s an especially tough question during hard economic times.  In situations where a “deal with the devil” is deemed necessary, she’s absolutely right in recommending the removal or isolation of that individual from situations where his/her bullying behaviors have a costly impact on others.

For Joy Chen’s full post: http://www.joyofhumancapital.com/how-bullies-fluorish-in-a-recession-and-why-they-shouldnt/

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