The adage about employees leaving managers absolutely applies in this circumstance.
- Constant criticism and nitpicking. Essentially I feel like nothing I do is right and even the smallest mistakes get a private Teams message about how I shouldn’t have done X, and then any apology from me is basically met with “Ok” as a response rather than any sort of empathy. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like small mistakes in a new position were never allowed.
- Micromanaging and controlling. They referred to themselves as a “dictator” on more that one occasion and had a “my way or the highway” attitude. I was hired on at a senior level and essentially ended up with close to zero input on design choices, so basically I stopped giving my opinion because I knew it would always be met with being shut down.
- I also felt singled out and was essentially told not to socialize in our Teams channels. This cut me off from the team quite a bit and made me feel totally isolated. I’d also try to suggest things globally so that knowledge could be shared and discussed with everyone. Again, I’d get a follow up message on Teams about how I shouldn’t be doing that and any suggestions like that need to be discussed with the manager first.
That’s just a few things. Overall, it’s just a feeling of not having any autonomy and any attempts to gain any being shut down. I want to say they maybe feel threatened, but I don’t like to jump to that conclusion.
Maybe it’s not yelling and screaming, but it’s a more passive-aggressive type of abuse and toxicity that in some ways digs deeper because it’s not easy to pick up on immediately or as visible.
I put my notice in last week and they terminated me early today because they didn’t “have anything left for me to do” in the next few days, which I think is code for “I’m pissed you’re leaving so I’m going to make it look like I’m in control”.
That abuse is increasing might be less obvious than the conclusion in the article link text. Good to have data on both of course.
My wife currently works for a place with a new senior director, a malevolently toxic psychopath. Her direct supervisor's hair has gone from brown to grey in only a couple months, and from conversation it sounds like yearly employee turnover has increased from maybe 10% to around 90%.
This is impacting my wife's health and happiness, so I'm encouraging her not to give customary 2 weeks notice after getting a new job. I think the circumstances warrant it.
As an aside, Wim Hof Method breathing has made an incredible difference for both of us and I feel so fortunate to have come across it during this challenging time. It makes stress management so much easier, while the nice things are so much brighter and more joyful.
You may be burning bridges but those bridges didn't take you anywhere you wanted to go anyway.
I've found there is massive deviation between what co-workers I've worked with define those personally as. To the level where one might consider a behavior helpful and uplifting and another would consider that identical behavior abusive and emotionally crushing.
Bottom line: if you’re being described as an abusive boss, you’re bad at your job. And you don’t get to take credit for the amazing work that may be being done below you by people who are professionals despite your behaviour.
An audio clip of Stephen Wolfram was recently posted on HN, in which he was dealing with a couple of team members on their API documentation.
Some described it as "toxic bullying", but even more said "That is incredibly tame and I take no issue with it". I fell into the latter.
Some people are a whole lot more fragile than others.
Wolfram doesn't at any point (at least while recording) make it about the team members themselves, just the work they've done.
I've had a bunch of conversations like these with a boss of some kind, so I know how awkward and unpleasant it is, but it's also an opportunity to learn a bunch of stuff.
A slightly more charitable way to phrase this might be “Some people prefer to be treated as professionals, with dignity and respect.”
I think what the poster above you was trying to get across is, part of a leaders role is to distinguish what works best for their different team members. While some people may enjoy being treated less than respectful, others may not.
You've just proved my point - what I might consider "handling a fragile ego with kid-gloves", you would consider to be "handling professionally with dignity and respect". It's all very subjective.
I think we would agree that a company's leaders need to be consistent and clear where they think the line is, and keep an eye on performance levels to determine if they've made a mistake.
the clip of Steven Wolfram: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HGjvFyRk_4I&feature=youtu.be...
* wolfram sounds reasonable - a bit of a disconnect (lack of structure/procedure) between boss & employees.
* Lack of high-level process. (for documenting)
* Employees should have done the docs as part of the deliverable - and may have needed more support/training/guidance, and not have realised the extent this was required - maybe a managerial failure?
* Docs were a mess - should ... lack of workflow to produce the docs - managerial failure?
* Employees seem a bit clueless.
* doing docs at all - fucking genius idea! and they have a docs team.
By 'managerial failure' I mean wolfram's.
So, assuming this review was typical, not a carefully chosen one designed to give a good impression, then given the bosses I've had to work for I'd say anyone who thinks that was 'bullying' needs some serious fucking life experience. I would be really grateful to have someone who didn't explode into anger, patronise, shout, ask for far too much (mucho free overtime Edit: entirely unpaid), disregard advice based on my 20 years experience in DBs because boss read a book and misunderstood it, expected (gasp!) actual documentation to be part of the deliverable...
Fuck, I'm seriously angry that anyone could consider this unreasonable. He was anything but. How could anyone think that?
disclaimer, I've no link to wolfram or any of his products or companies or affiliates.
I'd be extremely happy to work for him after this.
(further disclaimer, I'm not the easiest/brightest person to work with so I don't mind getting yelled at when I deserve it, but very often I don't)
Holy shit though people calling the above video bullying have no idea. There's no hint of sadism. There's no hint of using aggression as a persuasive tool. No hint of coercion. He's just irritated and there are visible signs of restraint and attempts to mediate this irritation.
you say it as if it's a weakness but why? Rhetorical question, but a valid one.
> Getting chewed out in an aggressive tone, getting yelled at, or chewed out for extended periods of time can significantly impact my productivity
Mine too! That stuff can cut deeply; don't imagine it washes off me just because I can usually handle it. I've been left literally shaking after someone's had a go at me, and it has added to my long-term mental health problems. It affects my work very negatively - it deteriorates. I remember wanting to punch myself in the face on the train on the way home I was so upset, less than a year ago. It should not happen.
> in spite of my efforts to toughen up
I really do not know if that's something a person can do to themselves. Or should? I don't mind if I fuck up and get it in the neck but if I get it in the neck cos someone's rowed with their BF last night then I shouldn't have to deal with it at all. But that's life I suppose.
I think it's actually dangerous to automatically judge yourself based on how individual people perceive you without further discussion or investigation.
If your peer group or your friends or people you respect enough that they can tell you the truth are fairly consistent in their analysis of the situation, then yes, listen.
If an individual thinks you're bullying them, it's certainly appropriate to inquire and empathize and agree with them if you choose.
But to default to the assumption that someone else's judgement of you is correct is a quick way to lose touch with your own beliefs.
There is such a thing as highly over-sensitive people. There are people who suffer from things like high paranoia, and their paranoia will often be directed at any authority figures in their life. I think you should have left things at "probably".
For example, you've ever played on a competitive sports team, or were in the military, you may be desensitized to some things that some may consider aggressive.
Cultural issues are important as well: some cultures argue, others do not. Some cultures vocalize objections, some do not. Some are direct, some indirect.
Germans and Dutch are really direct - their candor may be perceived as harsh by some. That said, they're also very emotionally calm.
I grew up 1/2 Irish/Scottish in a big family, my god man did we argue (and still do). But it's just arguing, it doesn't mean much. I'd call it 'emotive verbalization' and there's no name calling or anything.
Often someone can be loud and direct, and it seems terse, but if you actually listen, they might not be condescending, name calling or anything. It just feels that way.
Some people are also simply not used to actually being held accountable. A boss who suddenly draws some hard lines ... this may make some feel uncomfortable.
Some people confuse negative articulation of work as an insult i.e. "this is sht" might be interpreted as "you are sht" when it's not.
None of this remotely excuses actual bullying - I'm just saying there's a lot of grey and context.
So if someone is constantly threatening, name calling, publicly admonishing, being unfair, demeaning, inconsistent, derogatory, digging into personal issues - this is bullying.
But being demanding, loud, assertive, and sometimes being angry (so long as it's not directed at anyone) - this may or may not be bullying.
More poignantly - the article does woefully lack information about specific kinds of bullying behaviour, that's in fact the very first thing on my mind as I read it. This is really subjective stuff, it needs to be spelled out.
A supervisor can be generally unpleasant, impatient, lacking empathy, and demanding and not be a bully.
Then in one meeting I decided to play safe and said nothing. He complained to the big boss about being disrespectfully ignored.
Good days were these!
If you mean "[the workforce as a whole] perceives bullying" then yeah, probably. If two+ people quit citing "bullying" then there is possibly a problem. Three+ and it is likely.
Absolutely, from what you've said.
Supervisors "rage-fire" people on the spot all the time, often with little or no direct justification -- other than the manager having a momentary break, essentially. I've seen this happen many, many times.
So really, don't even think about the necessity of extending the courtesy, in this case.
In the US if you're working under a bully, you can't really call them out because they'll punish you, you can't go to HR because they'll defend the bully and you'll be poisoned now in the eyes of other managers. You can't go to your skip level, because they're permitting the behavior, and if they're not then (too often) you'll be the lone voice saying this as everyone else is afraid and just wants to keep their jobs. So the skip level just assumes you're the problem. And so on.
The only other thing is the company pushing an anti-bullying drive from the very top level with a shakeup of the management structure to break up any structures which keep the behaviour in place, but that's unlikely if the company believes that management bullying is either a non-issue or actively condones it (perhaps because they believe that the bullying behaviour keeps workers in line).
I worked at a place where the CTO churned the entire staff twice in two years.
He was a pathetic asshole, came from a wealthy background and waltzed into the executive class. He got hired and fired me so he could hire his friends. ( Which was honestly a good call, they needed a senior angular developer and I was a DevOps / Back-end engineer making it work. ) But what he said when he fired me has stuck with me ever since: "We have a different definition of what quality is. You no longer work here."
I have excelled at most of the jobs I have held. This dude's rudeness absolutely blew my mind.
He still works there. I'm sure he is doing well. The executive class never pay for their mistakes, only us lowly workers.
I’m pretty worried about the future of software in Seattle. So many new grads learning bad habits and then moving on to other companies. It’s a lot to unlearn.
Sticks and stones may break my bones but words hurt the worst.
You’ll be burning bridges, but you don’t wanna go back.
If it gets to the point where I'm quitting because of it, why would I bother giving them the record of evidence? Why would I want to improve the organization that I am leaving?
Put explicitly, if the work culture is such that I don't have reasonable avenues to improve the situation without quitting (e.g. via HR and skip level), then I really don't care to help them out when I've given up hope for them. If they want to improve, they should set it up such that the only way to improve is by employees quitting. People usually don't quit capriciously. It's a tough decision, and a lot of work to find a desirable alternative job. I don't want to give them charity on my way out, especially if they've wasted a significant amount of my off-work time looking for a job.
Frankly, I don't think it would do any good at all anyway. HR will just ignore it, and some damn fool might decide to call you a troublemaker later on. HR does love its status quo.
Not really. If they are indeed a psychopath - you'll definitely find support from other people who understand their dysfunction. They'll be happy to support you next time as you were the one to call them up on that.
It is interesting that this question is not studied in a more systematic way. There are situations where having a 'thug' manager is the most effective approach to getting good outcomes. For instance, the same personality that is hard on reports can be very effective in standing up to customers. Viewed from the perspective of the company as a whole, this might be a reasonable economic trade-off, which explains why such a management style would be tolerated.
(Confession: I am a consensus-style manager. The only time I've been fired on a project was a case where my manager judged he needed somebody to crack heads to get the project done. It was painful personally but I think he made the correct decision.)
From a cynical point of view a bullying boss might be able to extract more working hours out of employees, or get them to upsell products at places like Best Buy.
Humans are terrible at attributing cause and effect without a rigourous way of reproducing it.
Would you even have any desire to continue in tech if the "world's best company" gaslighted you and tried to destroy you?
Is there any known way for an institution to detect and remove abusers given victims are afraid to talk (rightly so)? What if something really dark resurfaced from your favorite director's past? Cover it up and pretend it didn't happen?
- regular performance feedback, not only from the bosses, but from the peers as well. First, it gives you a good understanding of internal connections and relations. Second, it makes much harder for some bad mid-level boss to say "this guy has always been a loser": it had to be backed up by the historical evidence.
- internal mobility is explicitly encouraged. Bosses know that having a one of your guys in another department improves your communication network and makes dealing with that department much easier.
I put us on Bower for web packages and rerolled everything. He was pissed about that. Pissed I fixed his mistakes. He would say things like I am level 4 so I need to pull tickets from the next sprint when I am done with the current sprint. Fundamentally he did not understand what role management had in planning and how to do it properly without antagonizing individual contributors.. Maulik attacked team members including me with qualitatives like slow and fast. He would spread his hands like he was showing a quantity and say you are here but need to here [moves hand higher.]
It was his first time as a manager. When I took the job Jeff Grote was actually signed on to be my manager..but Jeff pulled a bait and switch early into my start..sticking Maulik as a middle manager under himself. Coulda all been avoided if Jeff did me proper.
When I left I sent an email to the team explaining my grievances which I felt they deserved but which is for sure unprofessional. I probably shoulda went to HR but I had heard bad things about HR at large companies. Couldnt have been worse than not getting severence or unemployment. Live and learn... Care to share any similar stories? Would probably make me feel better to hear how someone else dealt with a bad manager scenario. If not its fine.
Here's an email I had sent to Jeff (his manager):
Jeff, I'm coming to you about Maulik's behavior. Literally, it's so bad that even when I come home, or I'm off on weekends, I'm thinking about how to deal with the guy. It's totally unsuitable for job satisfaction. My job satisfaction isn't even reflecting the tickets I do anymore, it's literally tarnished, shit on, by the passive-agressive comments Maulik makes on the regular, he usually sticks a smiley face at the end of his insults as if that makes them less offensive.
However, I don't know why Maulik feels the need to stomp on me for what amounts to the smallest kind of things. If you look at my ticket resolving rate, I'm like a speed demon, Ashley can vouch for this. So I'm getting my job done.
But either Maulik has a personality or managerial deficit, he is somewhat envious that I am doing a category of task right (front-end) that he only was shoddily able to do. Or he has no idea, is oblivious, and thinks his unelegant and critical behavior is conducive to being a good manager. And it isn't, I can tell you, based on my satisfaction and willingness to do good work. He's going against that with his continued vitriol.
For example, this timezone issue. He has 100 other issues to deal with. And he chooses to spend 20 minutes researching and finding a different library than the one I used (Which he may not have found...20 minutes could end up empty handed..) Just so he can trump me.
And it's a habit with Maulik. He ended up saying "This kind of research is what is expected from an Amazon engineer."
All too common for me to talk to him, and then he ends up using corporate culture rhetoric to crap on me. "Andrew, most people don't last long here. A lot of people get fired. Amazon culture, you need to learn it" Intimidation tactics, dismissal of my concerns, and basically abusing the idea of Amazon culture to avoid taking personal responsibility.
I really need you to step in here and deal with Maulik. He's a new manager and is showing it. A good manager is supposed to improve the teams efficiency, correct? He's actually making me not want to work, because of the amount of vitriol I get for performing well. It's anti-correlated. It's negative reinforcement.