Do some managers bully their employees?

Friday December 11 2020
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Moses Ssesanga

By Moses Ssesanga

Dear Moses,
I work with a very passionate manager. But because of this passion, he’s aggressive and, at times, unprofessional. During meetings for example, he tends to single out people and put them on the spot, very many of us hate it, while on another time, he will bring up your personal issue to justify why you’re not performing. How does someone deal with this kind of person, especially if they are managers? Hellen.

Dear  Hellen,
Working with an aggressive or irritating boss can really siphon the enjoyment from what might otherwise have been a very satisfying job, leaving you feeling undervalued, and wondering whether you should polish up your resume and hunt for a new employer.

However, having worked with some not-so-inspiring bosses in my corporate career, I’ve learnt that the boss’s undesirable behaviour can most times provide you with invaluable opportunities to develop  your executive leadership skills and learning ‘what not to do’ when managing people who work for you. You just have to be proactive in looking for them and being ready to practice some real self-leadership.  

The secret to put up with a not-so-inspiring boss is to learn to “manage up” without the boss ever realizing that you are doing it. So rather than thinking of your boss as your boss,  think of them as a difficult client - one you have to figure out how to work with if you want to get ahead, even if you’d rather not. Also,  if you’ve ever done or read about personal profile analyses or  personality assessments you would be advised to work with the boss’ personality profile preferences as way of managing your boss without him ever knowing it. This is a key leadership skill to develop regardless of the kind of boss you are working for.

Most important, keep your mind focused on delivering top performance. You may gripe to your spouse, mother or your close friends for all you want, but when in the office or workplace, stay upbeat and engaged. 

Finally, if the boss has persisted in his unbecoming behaviour, you should gather your courage and speak to him. When you approach him with respect and with a genuine desire to make things work better, you can end up opening doors to whole new levels of mutual understanding, trust, collaboration and taking the relationship with your boss to a higher level.


Moses Ssesanga,
Head of Human Resource, 
NMG Uganda