screaming boss

A reader writes:

I have a question about a manager at work. I work in the pharmacy department of the store, but the other night I witnessed a front store manager being extremely rude and disrespectful to a front store employee in front of customers and other staff. The employee just wanted to go on break, and paged the manager. The manager dropped what he was doing and when they met, he started yelling out loud “YOU COME TO ME, DON’T YOU EVER PAGE ME FOR SOMETHING LIKE THIS AGAIN.” The reaction of the customers was shocking, and also most of the pharmacy staff. If this happens again to anyone else, what rights does the employee have?

Rights, as in legal rights? None, really. It’s not illegal for a manager to be a jerk. Unwise, yes (because good employees will eventually leave over it), but allowed.

However, the employees of the store could certainly complain to the manager’s manager, who probably has no idea that this manager is behaving this way — and if even nothing else, would likely object to it being done in front of customers.

If I were this manager’s boss and I heard about this, I’d have a very serious talk with him, both about using authority appropriately and about not making customers uncomfortable. Of course, there are plenty of bad bosses out there, so there’s no guarantee that this boss will respond that way — but the fact that the guy did this in front of customers works to your advantage here, because you can couch your concern in that context, which makes it safe for you to bring up (you’re worried that customers are being made uncomfortable). And if he’s a good boss, he’ll realize that’s not the only troubling aspect of this.

{ 6 comments… read them below }

  1. Wally Bock*

    If you work for one of the chain drug stores the odds are good that there’s a hotline for reporting this sort of thing. In theory these are “anonymous.” In practice, don’t call it unless you’re willing to be identified.

  2. Charles*

    “However, the employees of the store could certainly complain to the manager’s manager, who probably has no idea that this manager is behaving this way

    Sorry, Ask-A-Manager; But I have to disagree. I suspect that this manager’s bosses all know about his attitude and may have already spoken to him about it or turned a blind eye; and this would certainly be true if this was not his first “outburst.”

    In my experience as a corporate trainer, unless he is doing something that could lead to a lawsuit or cost the company a huge amount of money, I find that management almost always “supports” managment; especially in retail.

    I’d even wager that the other managers joke about his treatment of what they consider to be “stupid” employees.

    I would suggest that speaking to his boss about his attitude would be one way to go; But be prepared to look for another job as it is often the messanger that gets shot. I doubt that they will fire him over this one incident and that he will be on the lookout for who “tattled” on him, or whomever he suspects tattled on him. Not a pleasant situation for anyone to be in.

    To the original poster – good luck! It sounds like you are in what I would consider to be a no win situation.

    Call me cynical – but good managers, such as yourself, are not a dime-a-dozen.

  3. Jackie Cameron*

    Maybe I am being a bit generous here but the poster does not say – or does not know maybe – if the manager in question has a habit of doing this . The response of the “screamer” seems over the top by anyone’s standard and maybe came as a snapping point. By reporting it the manager might get the help they maybe need …
    Just a thought

  4. HR Godess*

    What about going back to the manager and saying something like “Can I talk to you about what happened the other day? I realize it wasn’t an urgent situation and in the future, I understand not to page you but I was uncomfortable that you yelled at me in front of customers.”

    Maybe the guy was having a bad day. It’s always good to try to have a conversation first. Then, go to HR or the guy’s manager or whatever. I always try to give my employees an avenue to communicate it themselves. Managers actually appreciate it.

  5. Global Trends in Human Resources*

    I think talking over the table might help..but then it also depends how the person will react to his feedback. One should ensure to communicate his concerns as well as keeping in mind that he understand how to handle the situation.

  6. yvoncey from you-can-learn-basic-employee-rights*

    This sounds like a classic case of workplace bullying. This form of harassment has become a major problem.

    According to Wikipedia workplace bullying, “is the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive or unreasonable behavior against a co-worker.” From my workplace experience, I have witnessed bullying of customers, vendors, visitors and other interested parties! Bullies in the workplace often take advantage of their power by…

    affronting and confronting

    …the “target” of their abuse. Many times this behavior is played out in front of witnesses to destroy the victim’s self-esteem. When management allows bullying, trust in the workplace is nonexistent. Studies show that when there is an environment of distrust, employees tend to perform poorly. So bullying is bad for business.

    Here are the four basic types;

    Yellers, They always have to talk over the target(s).
    Blockers, This type likes to undermine the reputation of the target and destroy work product.
    Backstabbers, Self explanatory, they work in the shadows spreading ugly rumors and gossip aimed at the target.
    Nitpickers, This bully lives to find fault with everything the victim does no matter how trivial. Any suggestions by the target for improving performance will get trashed by the bully as well.

    Businesses that encourage bully bosses have high employee absenteeism and turnover. Research also shows increased levels of stress and sick leave taken. Because there are no laws protecting employees from bullying there is no clear definition for it. That makes it hard to distinguish from other behaviors such as sexual and racial harassment. Because there are no laws protecting employees from bullying there is no clear definition for it.

    That makes it hard to distinguish from other behaviors such as sexual and racial harassment. To this point the federal government has no workplace bully laws. Businesses and organizations by and large don’t have policies to prevent it. However, several states have proposed legislation to provide employees some protection. Nonetheless, there are some things employees can do to protect themselves.

    learn more about it
    stay calm
    promote your good work
    inform management of the problem(if the bully is the manager go over his/her head)
    Understand the bully is the problem not you

    Keep good records detailing the bully’s behavior over a period of time. This includes names, dates, times, places, witnesses, etc. try to get the bully to create a paper trail for you. Keep all documentation from the bully that you can use to prove accusations against you are false. If possible, anytime you have contact with the bully try to make sure someone is around as a witness. Remember you are not the source of the problem the bully is.

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