This brief post came about following a phone call I received today. As ever questions posed are to be answered.
Alan works for a company with just over two hundred employees. He believes he is being harassed daily by his boss and is distressed about his failure to respond. He told me that in the past few months she has begun to demand “more and more from me and that everything must be perfect – it is beyond what is humanly possible”. The quality of his work has suffered and now, more importantly, it is impacting on his health and wellbeing.
Alan is shocked and surprised by his inability to confront his manager. Normally, he is a confident man and one often described as self assured, though his self-esteem is taking a hit. He thinks the hierarchical relationships at work are completely disempowering and wants to know whether this is the norm.
The simple answer I gave him is, yes, completely normal. There will be immediate empathy and understanding from the many that have been in similar positions.
To give a fuller answer, of course, it is necessary to delve deeper into the situation. Perhaps we would need to explore why managers behave the way they do. What are the pressures they are under that make them over-demanding and abrasive? What pushed them to become the boss from hell, the bully?
I have never met a person who goes into management in order to cause damage and upset to others. Is this abuse just another example of the unavoidable corruption of power?
Also up for analysis is the role of the victim. Why does this person not stand up for themselves? Why does the group not stand together and say no. Does their organisationally inferior position forbid this kind of intervention? Does the individual collude with abrasive practices by failing to act appropriately?
Whatever the answers to these questions might be, what I have found, time and again, is that the relationships between the individuals involved have never been properly developed. The real people hide behind their roles; boss, manager, superior or team leader are some, but also are their subordinates, juniors, managed or direct reports.
The Equality Edge programme of “Working with Difference” helps organisations invest to ensure maximum performance, output and productivity from their people whilst also giving them the ability to cope with challenging behaviours and abrasive techniques. It promotes authenticity in the workplace, where real relationships flourish.
I’m sure Alan and his manager will benefit too.