What is Abusive Supervision?

Experience Working with an Abusive Supervisor

Abusive supervision occurs when managers display hostility towards their subordinates. The behavior poses a major concern for organizations since it adversely affects employees’ performance. I have had an experience with an abusive manager who would constantly ridicule my abilities. He would blame my team whenever our department failed to meet our goals. The continued reprimand affected my self-esteem and my performance deteriorated due to a lack of motivation. Although employees can cope with reprimanding and abusive supervisors, work experience under such managers can adversely affect workers’ motivation and productivity, and hence, lead to reduced performance of an entire organization.   

Coping with an Abusive Supervisor

Subordinates can employ several approaches to cope with abusive supervisors. One of the methods is avoidance coping, which involves keeping a physical distance. The approach ensures minimal contact with supervisors. Secondly, an employee may adopt active coping strategies that entail confronting a supervisor in case of harassment. Additionally, a worker can report the matter to senior managers who could arbitrate between parties. Although both approaches are effective, avoidance coping would be more applicable than active coping since the method is non-confrontational and less stressful.

How to Stop Abusive Supervision

Organizations are solely responsible for designing preventive measures against abusive supervisors. When developing a plan, it is crucial to understand the extent and impact of abuse. Hence, institutions should develop programs that focus on the creation of appropriate workplace behavior, which discourages confrontation and facilitates teamwork. Accordingly, employees should identify abusive language and take appropriate action. In addition, organizations should include consequences of abuse in the code of conduct and initiate procedures and policies for punishing offensive supervisors. Therefore, preventive measures should protect employees from abusive managers while creating a collaborative environment for all stakeholders.

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