What is the best way to deal with a bullying director?


Hypothetically speaking if a person was in a situation where say a Director in charge of say a small team was bullying the supervisory staff, both individually and as a group, how would a person go about handling that?


It depends on whether this hypothetical director is above you, below you – or parallel with you.

Regardless, starting to document properly what the inappropriate behavior is – is a start.  Bullying is generally a pattern of inappropriate behavior. It is harassment that serves no legitimate purpose. 

So I would start documenting these little inappropriate things that happen.  That way you can see if you are dealing wth a pattern of behavior – or just one off lapses of judgement. 

A good log tells you date, time, people present (who participated or witnessed it), what exactly happened or was said, where this happen and any documentation to support it happened - like a copy of an email.   Once you get the log going – you may be able to see the pattern of behavior a bit better.   My husband had a boss who – when she was stressed, would – spill her anxiety onto everyone else.  It helped him to not take it personally and to understand her behavior better. She got fired because she got in a fight with her boss – so that sorted itself out.

Everything starts with the documentation log.

Once you have that – you can create a strategy to either extinguish the unwanted behavior – or retrain for better behavior or fire if it becomes necessary. I usually recommend attempting to extinguish and retrain as the first steps because most people – aren’t aware they are bullying and aren’t aware of their own side of an interpersonal problem. They are just responding to their own stressors and respond well when others enter helping mode instead of fight mode.  For instance – I did a training for a law firm and they told me – everyone started behaving better – to manipulate everyone else – into behaving better. They didn’t have any actual bullies – even though – everyone thought everyone else – was a bully.

If you do have a pattern of inappropriate behavior happening – then you need to create a strategy to help them stop – or fire them. A strategy should take into account who has power over this person to create the rewards and consequences required to help make the behavioral change happen. Keeping in mind, they will fight the behavioral change- - that has to be factored into the strategy and plans made to help them get through it quickly. 

If the person is just – really bad – and the form of the bullying isn’t’ just – they don’t know how to manage well – but actually malicious – then they would need to be fired and your documentation will help, make that happen.

This question came from a participant in one of my online courses. The identifying information has been removed to protect identity. If you want to learn more - check out my courses and consider scheduling a training for your company. 


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