Bullying bosses cause work rage rise

Jan 28 2003 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Insecurity, uncertainty and growing pressure on individuals is bringing tension to the boil in Britain’s workplaces, according to research by Roffey Park, the executive education and research organisation.

This “pressure-cooker problem” is increasingly manifesting itself in escalating workloads, increases in workplace conflict, bullying and job insecurity and the growing use of office politics.

Published each January by Roffey Park, the executive education and research organisation, the Management Agenda examines the challenges that managers and organisations are facing.

“Organisations are now realising the benefits of large-scale change programmes,” said the research authors Claire McCartney and Linda Holbeche. “Although this is positive, tensions beneath the surface are running high and these have been exacerbated by recent changes.

“An increase in workplace conflict, bullying and the growing use of office politics suggests that a pressure-cooker problem is building within organisations.”

The in-depth survey of 372 managers reveals the aggressive behaviour in the workplace is widespread. Nearly one in five managers (18 per cent) say that they have personally experienced harassment or verbal bullying at work. Nearly one in ten (9 per cent) claim to have experienced physical attacks. Twelve per cent claim that sexual harassment occurs in their work environment.

Asked who are the main perpetrators of harassment, the respondents pointed to senior managers (63 per cent), their boss (29 per cent) and their colleagues (20 per cent). In contrast, irate customers were cited by only 18 per cent of respondents.

None of this would come as any surprise to researchers at the Technion Institute in Israel. In a recent study, they found that aggressive managers who blame others when things go wrong are more likely to get promoted than managers who feel guilty and accept responsibility for failure and that it actually pays for managers to loose their tempers.

Another symptom of the tensions discussed by the Roffey Park researchers is an increase in office politics. Sixty per cent of managers believe it is on the increase in their organisation and more than three-quarters (79 per cent) say that conflict within the workplace has increased.

“Clearly, organisations should be careful about who they place in positions of trust,” said the authors, “and they need to monitor these people to make sure that such trust is not abused.”

The Roffey Park research also underlines how demands on individuals at work are growing. An overwhelming majority - 83 per cent - of those surveyed work consistently longer than their contracted week and 63 per cent report that their workload has increased over the last year. This echo figures published by recruitment consultancy Robert Walters earlier this month that found that nearly one third of UK managers were expected to work at least an extra 10 hours weekly while fewer than a quarter (21 per cent) put in less than two hours extra.

Despite this extra effort, a third of managers feel less secure in their jobs than they did last year. And because of it, 70 per cent claim to suffer from work-related stress, caused by a lack of time (58 per cent) increasing workloads (54 per cent) a lack of organisational support (47 per cent) and a lack of control over their workload (38 per cent).

But even though widespread change has led to rising tension, it also appears to have resulted in increasing efficiency. Some 65 per cent of managers claim that change has improved organisational performance, up from 47 per cent in 2002.

Significantly, these changes have often involved new working arrangements being introduced, such as the use of ‘virtual’ teams, flexible working, outsourcing, home-working and ‘hot-desking’.

Older Comments

You get hired as a sale rep for a large firm, 100 years old, your office is 6 miles away, and there are 25 other reps covering the firms 's other magazines. You figure it will be a good use of your sales talent. Within 3 three years you become the first sales rep to sell over a million dollars in sales and you get an award. Your first three years have also been spent mostly from the office. Your customers, after all, are working as well and can't waste time with vendors that they could be spent making money. The first five years are fine, not that they are easy by any stretch, but the sales rep along with his part time assistant are able to keep all the customers happy.

Now the company will be run by the owner's son-in-law, a self serving, self-indulging, entitled, and delusional bloke who doesn't know swat about selling, morale, or even fairness. One by one offices close, people are let go weekly; after all Mr. Delusional must be kept in the best cigars, best cars, and on the best golf courses, God forbid he should realize it is real people, people with families, whose lives are being devastated. As with any good Christian family though, he must show a profit, even though he isn't actually increasing the size and volume of the company, in fact he is driving it into the ground. Sales reps are no longer selling they are at computer classes where their talent can best be put to use. Now, with no more assistants to help, our sales reps are stressed into anxiety conditions, stomach problems, sleep disorders, and heart problems due to the amazing morale created by this delusional moron. An award winning business professor said you do what you best and pay someone else to do what you don't know how to do, otherwise you will waste a great deal of money and time, which is also money. I didn't finish college but I can see clearly that this company is doing the ultimate crime that a company can do, if you don't care of your people, they won't take care of you. But then this boss has majored in ways to get rid of people, let's change the sales reps selling area making impossible for them to make quota, let's set them up in a sales computer program that will take hours to record one sale, taking yet more time away from their opportunity to sell. Let's fire everyone in production, heck they don't really do anything anyway, so when customers call to see the ad they bought, or the sales reps call to see if the ads they sold appear in the right place, no one knows, because there's no one there. Let's invent new things to sell, we'll really stand on the toes of our sales reps to sell this new product, so the good reps sell some, but it's not enough to make money on, so we'll make the reps look like idiots and cancel the product and try and find a way not to return their money by roping them into something they didn't buy. We'll fire all all the good experienced publishers and promote the oldest, dowdiest, old men who can make speeches about selling to men who have been selling successfully for over 20 years, better he should be making inspirational speeches at McDonald's. Yes, this company is a credit, interns should stand in line to work for this company, I just wish this owner would go on that reality show and see what it is like in the trenches, but his aren't that big at all. A laugh we won't get.