“Bully Boss is an elected official; any ideas?”

Question: I am bullied at work by my boss. He is an elected person and I am directly employed by him. He is solely responsible for all employment matters – there is no HR Department.

He shouts at me, is controlling, and unreasonable in his demands. My English is fluent, but I am from overseas and am now completely lacking in confidence, cannot eat, and am having difficulty sleeping.

I have confided in friends at work who are very kind but because there is no-one in authority above my boss I do not know what to do. I know I could join a union, but there are no union branches at work. No union is keen to accept me and my colleagues as members – we do not seem to fit anywhere. My colleagues have tried for years to get representation but unions do not wish to be involved with us.

Name Withheld
Edinburgh, Scotland

Answer: Dear Blog Visitor: Your plight is a serious one. Not only does it affect your working life, but it has grown to affect your health. Here are a few thoughts and ideas that I think might help you:

1. First things first: Your health must be protected at all other costs.  If there is one paramount message I want to convey to you it is that your health is more important than your job. Period. No question about it. You can survive unemployment, but you can’t survive loss of health. Whatever it is you decide to do, this must be first and foremost in your mind and heart.

2. Second, in a small company or office like yours, without a Human Resources Department or Board of Directors, stopping bullying at the office is always harder, and always requires a bit more creativity. Working in a larger company or organization, where there exists a Human Resources department, a CEO, a Board of Directors, and investors, is actually an easier venue in which to raise a concern about bullying at work. In fact, more and more larger employers have written policies prohibiting bully bosses, and even forms to fill out to file a complaint about a bully boss. That is not the case in smaller companies, agencies and offices like yours.

So, you need to be a bit more creative to overcome your boss’s bullying. To do so, take a moment and pretend you are him. What is he concerned about? We usually use our “Three R” approach: (1) Revenues, (2) Relations, and (3) Reputation. These are the three categories of concerns that people have that contain whatever “motivating leverage” you need to “negotiate” with them, even a Bully Boss.     

If you are Suffering from a Bully Boss, we offer Model ANONYMOUS BULLY BOSS COMPLAINT to Your Employer, for your adaptation. Shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.” To get your copy, just [click here.] Delivered to your printer in minutes.

3. Third, at the moment Edinburgh seems to be awash in public concerns about Bully Bosses and other Bullying at work. My brief internet research has come across these recent items, all about public concerns about bullying at work in Edinburgh:  Item: On May 11, 2012, the BBC News reported that a very serious scandal had erupted at Scotland’s National Health Service over bullying at work. Item: On June 3, 2012, the Scotland On Sunday publication reported that the CEO of Historic Scotland, Ruth Parson, had been asked to resign her position due to allegations by staff that she was a bully boss. Item: On June 5, 2012, the newspaper website DailyRecord.Co.Uk reported  that an official of the Church of Scotland Choir had been removed over allegations of being a bully boss. With public concerns like these, it sure seems to be the case that public sentiment in Edinburgh has little patience for bully bosses at work.

4. Fourth, your boss is an elected official, who would be expected not to want such publicity. While I would NEVER, EVER recommend to an employee that he or she say to an employer, “If you do not give me something, or do something, I will tell the newspapers,” because that is the CRIME of extortion. It is a fact that we are all concerned about our reputations, and elected officials are generally more concerned than most due to their incessant need to be re-elected. I only point out the fact that public officials in Edinburgh seem to be losing their jobs, and your bully boss might just find that he is capable of controlling himself if he remembered it could cost him his job, and his reputation, and thus his ego, too.

5. Fifth, you might consider an Anonymous Complaint of Bully Boss to your boss. Since others share your concern and have witnessed your boss’s bullying, might you consider sending him an anonymous email memo, which might say something like this: “I respect you and want you to continue in public elected office, but I fear that your bullying behaviors could end your elected career and personal life. Please, control yourself, so you can keep your job. And please do not consider retaliating against any of your employees for my sending this email to you, as that would just make it worse for you.” For purposes of confidentiality, you might even have a friend who does not work for him send the email.

Though it is written with a larger organization in mind, you might want to obtain a copy of our “Model Anonymous Complaint about Bully Boss” to adapt for this purpose. To do so, just [click here.]

I hope this has been helpful, and at least given you some sense that (a) health must come first, and (b) there are things you can do to stand up to a bully boss, even if it is anonymous. As the press reports I have presented above show, more and more bully bosses are, themselves, losing their jobs. Just that notion may help you help yourself. I sure do hope so, and I will say a prayer for you, your health and your job tonight.

My Very Best to you,
Al Sklover

P.S: Our Model Letters help people stand up for themselves at work. For a friend facing Job Loss, Severance, Resignation, Bully Boss, or Performance Improvement Plan, they are a “Helping Hand Gift for a Friend in Need.” Just [click here] to view our list.

Repairing the World –
One Empowered and Productive Employee at a Time ™ 

© 2012 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.

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