In an ideal world, everyone would work in an organization where the boss was wonderful.  We would never have a boss that participated in persistent workplace aggression.  This unfortunately, is not always the case.  Many times, the boss is the persistent workplace aggressor, which makes the work environment even more problematic.

Having a boss who is a workplace aggressor complicates matters for the target and bystanders.  A boss who is a persistent workplace aggressor likely struggles with power, control, self-esteem, and professional boundaries.  Being involved in persistent workplace aggression is how the boss has learned to manage and/or control those they are supervising.

Since your boss does in fact have a great deal of power and control over you, what can you do?  

As in all situations of persistent workplace aggression, documentation is vital.  It may be even more important when the boss is the aggressor.  It is a means of protection for the target and must become part of the daily work day for the target.

Targets should attempt to develop allies.  The target should try to find allies who will willingly advocate or stand up for the target.  Allies can be used as witnesses if a situation calls for this.  This is again another strategy of protection for the target.

A target that is being mistreated by their boss needs to give serious consideration about whether they confront their boss about the persistent workplace aggression.  The answer will be different depending on the target’s situation. 

Confrontation may not always be in the best interest of the target.

Several factors should be considered before targets talk to their boss.  Some of these are as follows: 

  • What is the severity of the workplace aggression? 
  • What is the likelihood of change?
  • How has the boss dealt with feedback in the past?
  • Does your boss have the ability or capacity to self-reflect on negative feedback?
  • What are the chances of retaliation?
  • Are there allies that exist for the target?
  • If the target does confront their boss, is there another level of the hierarchical structure that they can utilize?

Targets must do a thorough assessment of both the positive and negative effects that a confrontation may have.  There is no right or wrong answer whether it is best to confront the boss or not.  The target and their safety are always the most important factors.  No matter what option a target chooses, they must be prepared to deal with the consequences.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent workplace aggression, please contact me at jankircher@jankircher.com or (320) 309-2360. You can also visit my website at jankircher.com. Help is out there.



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