We hear far too many stories about bosses bullying and intimidating their staff. But according to research presented to the annual conference of the British Psychological Society, there is also a growing trend for staff to gang up on their boss.
Not delivering messages, hiding notes, changing documents, excluding people from social groups and not delivering papers for meetings in time were all designed to make the bullied manager seem incompetent, said Dr Noreen Tehrani, a counselling psychologist and management consultant, and Prof Charlotte Rayner of the business school at Portsmouth University.
In one case a woman, new in her job, had her life made so unbearable that she left.
"No matter how early she got in to work, her answer phone had been tampered with. Her actions were left off the minutes of meetings, so she appeared not to have done anything," said Prof Rayner.
....Both psychologists said they believed the problem was much greater because both bullies and the bullied did not always recognise what was going on.
Prof Rayner said that in another survey people were asked if they had been intimidated, subjected to verbal abuse, or experienced withholding of information - all symptoms of a pattern of bullying behaviour. They were then asked separately if they had been bullied and only half said they had been.
"Yelling or screaming at someone is relatively rare. Often it is more what people do not do. It can be very hard to say you are being bullied until the pattern emerges," she said.