Managers Who Bully: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know

6 steps to prevent and stop bullying behavior by supervisors and managers

Posted by Timothy Dimoff in Bullying, Harassment, Human Resources on June 12th, 2012

As an employer, having both the human resources and the legal knowledge to properly deal with workplace bullying issues is essential. Whether the bully is an employee or a manager, bullying is thriving at small companies.

Bullying by managers and supervisors is a big problem in smaller companies where there is often less training and less professional management staff than at larger companies. And bullying by those in positions of authority is especially damaging to the employment relationship because it undermines the judgement of the employer who puts bullies into supervisory positions.

Profile of a Bully

Managers and supervisors who bully contribute to dysfunctional and inefficient organizations, increased staff turnover, high absence, and low productivity and profitability. They are usually insecure in their own abilities, have low self-esteem and little confidence. Consequently, they belittle their staff, embarrass workers, ignore workers, and exhibit other negative behaviors that can wreak havoc in a company.

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Effects of Bullying

Employees become scared and self-protective, interfering with productivity and ultimately costing your business money. Morale takes a big hit and everything and everyone suffers as a result of their actions.

It doesn’t matter if the bully is a worker or a supervisor, the first step you must take as a business owner is to have a policy in place and be prepared to take the necessary steps to recognize and correct the problem.

6 Steps to Combat Bullying by Supervisors

Here are some steps every business needs to take to prevent and to deal with supervisory bullying:

  • Make sure you have a strong, written anti-bullying policy that clearly defines all non-acceptable behaviors. Make the policy known to all staff, especially supervisory personnel. Let them know these actions will not be tolerated and enforce the policy.
  • Train supervisors and managers to recognize and understand bullying and how your firm deals with it.
  • Instill an open-door reporting system for anyone who feels bullied and make sure to let employees know there will be no retaliation against them for reporting a bullying situation.
  • Examine and investigate every complaint fairly. Talk with anyone who feels they are being bullied by a supervisor.
  • Try to correct the situation. Talk with the supervisor. They may not be aware of their behavior. Send them for additional sensitivity and anti-bullying training, if needed.
  • Know the law. Either learn it yourself or hire an attorney. Employers should be constantly keeping up on what the new laws are and how to apply them. It’s an important part of being an employer in America.

It is important that employers go beyond the minimum legal requirements and try everything possible to “save” the employer-employee relationship. If you have to go to court over the matter, juries need to see that.

If you have a strong policy, train all levels of your staff, and take action when necessary, your business can run smoothly and will be a place where everyone enjoys their working environment.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security Expert

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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