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When Bosses Are Bullies, Fight Back!

Jan. 31, 2015

We’ve all had or known one of “those” bosses; the boss that screams and yells and belittles employees in front of coworkers. Many abused workers slink off or quit, but the ones who fight back might have the upper hand in the long run, according to a new study.

“I thought there would be no upside to employees who retaliated against their bosses, but that’s not what we found,” said Bennett Tepper, lead author of the study and professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business. “The best situation is certainly when there is no hostility. But if your boss is hostile, there appears to be benefits to reciprocating. Employees felt better about themselves because they didn’t just sit back and take the abuse.

”Hostile bosses were identified as ones who yelled at or ridiculed employees or attempted to intimidate them. “Retaliation,” as defined in the study, usually took the form of passive-aggressive behavior by employees, who ignored the boss, acted like they didn’t know what their bosses were talking about and only put forth a half-hearted effort on the job.

Read more on hostile bosses on EHS Today,

EHS Today is an NED companion site on Penton's Manufacturing & Supply Chain Group.