Abusive Boss? How To Deal With An SOB Abusive Boss

Are you one of the many workers who has been or may become subject to abusive bosses at some point in their working lives? HR studies reveal that a half or more of all workers may be subject to abusive bosses during their careers.[1]

That is more than 65 million workers, a huge number that implies huge human and organizational costs, easily in the billions of dollars.

Horrible Bosses ChartThe “bully boss” is the generic term for such abusive bosses, but most articles on how to deal with them try to address the bully boss as a personality quirk.

This article describes a different approach, one which views the bully boss as a highly qualified manager with destructive psychological patterns.[2]

Steps For Dealing With An Abusive Boss With SOB Syndrome

Assess The Hazard

Many people are difficult to work for, but are not included in the scope of discussion.

These people achieve excellent results while being difficult to work with; Dr. Michael DeBakey and Admiral Hyman Rickover are extreme examples of demanding bosses that achieve world-class results.

If you cannot keep up with them, that is your problem. This topic examines the abusive, pointless, wasteful behavior by managers that harms the workers and the goals of the organization.

Assess The Abusive Boss’s Condition

The worst cases of bullying behavior seem to originate within a narrow profile of easily recognizable managerial behavior, but only if you know what to look for. This type behavior is sometimes identified as the “SOB Syndrome”. “SOB boss” symptoms include:

  • Expresses a very negative view of himself, referring explicitly to himself as “a tough son-of-a-bitch” or “a tough little bastard” when in fact he hardly gets tough, productive results. SOB yes, tough no. Female managers in the pattern may refer to themselves as a “tough bitch”. This signature statement, “I am a tough SOB,” is a dead giveaway of the SOB personality, but is usually not spoken in the presence of upper management.
  • Acts respectfully toward upper management, and has all the requisite qualifications for his position: experience, education, certifications, etc.
  • Is abusive, dishonest, and erratic in dealing with subordinates. Subordinates see both sides of the SOB’s personality and that is why subordinates may think the SOB is “crazy,” but upper management sees the SOB only at his best behavior and may consider him “outstanding.”

The SOB’s erratic behavior may include a lack of emotional control around subordinates, resulting in temper tantrums, profane outbursts, and occasional violence.

Carefully Consider Your Position And Options In Dealing With The Abusive Boss

SOB Abusive boss

An SOB abusive boss can cost a company millions

If your abusive boss meets all the criteria of the SOB Syndrome, you are in a precarious position, subject to stress-related illnesses, termination, demotion, or transfer.

You are advised to leave, if you are able.

In fact, the SOB’s situation is no less precarious. SOBs are known to suffer career and personality meltdowns, after they have done much damage to the organization and to the workers.

The SOB abusive boss targets his more capable subordinates because he finds them threatening to his position. The SOB abusive boss presides over a very unhealthy working environment.

Recognize The Abusive Boss SOB Dynamics

The personality of the SOB creates a very sick workplace culture.

An SOB should not be in a management position. SOB’s conditions are infectious. When you have an SOB in charge of an organization, clusters of emotional illnesses, productivity problems, and high personnel turnover are the norm, at great expense to the organization.

These problems commonly disappear, or are re-located, with a change of managers or a change of jobs for the SOB manager.

A quarter of American workers are stuck in bad jobs.

A quarter of American workers are stuck in bad jobs.

While you can sympathize with the SOB’s problems, that does not justify the damage he does to the workers and to the organization. Some SOBs are known to have been severely abused in childhood, and this may well be a factor in other SOB personalities. Something surely disturbed the SOB’s personality development.

The substance-abusing personality is a close parallel to the SOB personality, but the SOB is found more frequently and creates greater costs and damages.

Substance abusers are subject to management and HR scrutiny, and the incidence of substance abuse constantly receives attention and correction.

Both the bully boss and the SOB receive much attention, but little effort is made to correct their behavior.

The SOB personality is not generally recognized as a medical or psychological problem. There is little effort to correct the SOB’s behavior because management cannot identify the nature of the problem.

Publicize The Abusive Boss SOB Syndrome

The problem of the bully boss/SOB personality will be corrected when it is properly recognized, costs are acknowledged, and demand for correction is voiced. This will have to be done from bottom up, as the SOB takes pains to conceal his abusive treatment of subordinates from management.

HR or other professionals may help alert management of the problem, as it may be easier to educate HR than to educate management.

Tips For Dealing With An SOB Abusive Boss

It is characteristic that SOB managers are able to remain in positions of authority for long periods in spite of ongoing problems within their organizations.

There is some fairly deep psychology involved here, but this requires more time to present than this format allows.

There is a more extensive treatment of the “SOB Syndrome” available on the Internet.[3]

The common approach to the bully boss problem results in a competitive game involving the bully boss, upper management, workers, and ultimately lawyers, unions, counselors, legislatures, professional and trade organizations, and possibly others.

This common approach leads to conflict between competing interests, and often results in prolonged agony for the abused workers during the interminable jockeying for position among all the players.

The steps listed above are applicable in the short-term and in the long-term for dealing with the worst of the bully bosses.

This process, to substantially reduce the adverse effects of SOB personalities in management, is advocated because of the human and financial costs that SOBs create.

There is a survey form on a website to help document SOB personalities you may have encountered. It offers some observations and reference materials, with the object of publicizing the adverse medical and psychological aspects of the SOB personality.[4]

Warnings: HR And The SOB Abusive Boss

The SOB’s signature statement, “I am a tough SOB,” is fundamental to his self-perception, serving as armor against a threatening world. Challenging his self-perception may increase his instability.

The SOB’s senior management should deal with the SOB’s problems, however imperceptive or unwilling that management may be.

That is what management is paid to do: solve problems, but the SOB manager is a problem of long standing that is seldom fully appreciated, considering the huge cost involved.

Educating upper management is the key to solving the problem of the SOB personality, possibly with the help of HR or counselors, if they understand the problem.

The HR Magazine article cited below is by and for HR professionals, and many of the comments complain about bullying by HR professional managers against HR professional workers.

HR, of course, is responsible for eliminating workplace bullying! Up to 80% of HR professionals have reported abusive behavior on the job, a higher proportion of bullying behavior than any study of general workers has produced.

“Tough Boss or Workplace Bully?”, Teresa A. Daniel —http://www.shrm.org/Publications/hrmagazine/EditorialContent/Pages/0609daniel.aspx

“The S.O.B. and Business: Destruction Dynamics in Organizations.” By James G Long.

Mandynamerica.com has a more extensive treatment http://Mandynamerica.com

Survery, documentation and observations, by starting-author at Mandynamerica.comhttp://Mandynamerica.com

Link to original article available under creative commons license:


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