The Wall Street Journal‘s online career advice section includes an article on what to do if you’re being bullied by your boss (link here). I have to wonder if this piece was written by a human resources director skilled in deflecting complaints about bullying managers.
It’s not me, it’s you
The theme of the piece is bullying target, look inward. This may be your fault, and even if not, it’s your problem. Here’s a snippet:
Try to understand that managers have their own burdens to bear. Then turn the mirror on yourself. If the bullying has started fairly recently, it’s possible that your boss is reacting to something you’ve done. He or she could have become tougher on you because your work isn’t as good as it used to be. . . . [I]t doesn’t make the bullying right, but you owe it to yourself and your company to consider that maybe you have been inadvertently fueling your boss’s bad behavior.
They don’t get it
Of course, it’s quite possible that there’s some confusion over terms here. The WSJ seems to conflate bullying with personality conflict, a common trait among those who deny that severe workplace bullying is about abuse, not differences in management or work styles. Such an understanding would explain this piece of advice leading off the column:
If you work for a bully of a boss, career experts recommend confronting him or her directly to discuss the problem and come up with a way to turn things around.
Par for the WSJ course
Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when the WSJ badly fumbles this topic.
After all, last year the newspaper characterized the anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill as allowing workers to sue for mere “nastiness” (link to my blog post here), which couldn’t be further from the truth.
In 2009, the WSJ ran a misguided op-ed piece (link to my blog post here) claiming that the recession has freed us of workplace jerks because (1) “in times of high unemployment, most people don’t care if they work with jerks” and (2) “jerks are often the first people fired during recessions.”
Who woulda thunk that the recession is the ultimate bully-buster . . . at least according to the Wall Street Journal op-ed page.