Help me confront my bullying boss


My CEO that makes up policies as she goes. Where policies are in place she does not adhere to them, so needless to say she ruffles a lot of feathers.

I have seen her humilate, belittle, bully and use profanity when addressing her staff. She micro manages and discriminately gives performance increases, does systemic hiring - the list goes on. She alienates and eludes minority staff, so she has no diversity in her corporate office.

The turnover rate is astronomical, and usually links back to her. If you are not liked by her, your life is made a living hell.

This is a non-profit company governed by a board, whom she reports too.

They are highly aware of what is going on, yet they give her an outstanding performance review and increase. It is as though she is being rewarded for the way she treats her staff.

This is a fantastic company with a valuable mission, but the leadership leaves a lot to be desired. The employee morale is so brow beaten, that no one is happy, smiles, just working under the pretense of intimidation and the need for a paycheck. HR has no real roll in the company's chain of command matrix system. The buck stops at the top, and if you file a grievance, your pink slip is on the way.

I have never seen an Executive staff turnover rate like it is here.

So please, what advise do you have? Everyone here quits to end their misery, but I am a glutton for punishment and refuse to quit.

Anita, USA

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Patricia Soldati's Answer:

What you describe is worse than dismal leadership - it's the classic schoolyard bully. And worse yet, a Board that doesn't seem to have the courage or will to do anything about it.

Left unchecked, it's a formula for continued frustration and turnover, and, I sense, a situation that will only be resolved with courageous confrontation by several employees with one or more Board members.

Understand that any action to change this situation involves risk - of revenge, demotion or even firing. If your moral compass is ready to accept this risk, the best approach may be to leverage a "safety in numbers" strategy.

Can you gather several other determined colleagues, and together approach an HR and/or Board member - specifics (such as turnover rates, costs of hiring and training, potential law suits, sabotage of the vision of the organization) in hand? Perhaps even threaten to leave en masse?

Short of strong, massive action, you'll get plenty of opportunity to be a "glutton for punishment". Not surprisingly, others have taken the path of least resistance. Yet until there is a stronger, more forceful presence, the playground bully will continue to swagger and browbeat at will.

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About our Expert

Patricia Soldati
Patricia Soldati

Patricia Soldati is a former President & COO of a national finance organization who re-invented her working life in 1998. As a career fulfillment specialist, she helps corporate professionals enhance their working lives Ė both within the organization Ė and by leaving it behind.