When Push Comes to Shove

Sunday, May 29, 2005

So how do you deal with a bully boss? Well, you could testify in front of the Senate, for one thing. But if that's not going to happen, consider tips offered by Steven L. Katz, author of "Lion Taming: Working Successfully With Leaders, Bosses, and Other Tough Customers":

· Talk to a counselor in a confidential Employee Assistance Program in your company. Use the visit for emotional counseling and to create a record of your concern. Your complaint may involve harassment and discrimination from which all employees are protected.

· Choose a trusted ally in your office to join you in meeting with someone in senior management to listen to your concerns. What you're looking for is a friend. Otherwise, it will look as if you have a personal vendetta against the bully. If you can, don't ever fight it alone, because you will lose. "It's like David and Goliath, but the story doesn't end so well," Katz said.

· Recognize that other high-level managers and executives may welcome the input since they need to know about the impact of bullies on staff performance, retention and the image of the company as an employer.

· Create a "climate committee." Suggest that your office create such a committee to foster the best employee morale and emotional climate. Work to create dialogue. Meet regularly and include and report to the boss about the meetings.

· Finally, research your exit strategy. The best protection you have is to be assertive about your career. Identify desirable companies, bosses and jobs. "Just get out. You have good skills," Katz said.

-- Amy Joyce

© 2005 The Washington Post Company