Avoiding workplace bullies: Ask the Expert

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A: Working for a bully is a traumatic experience, so it's not surprising you're feeling wounded.

Tony Tucker recalls one episode working for a man who was prone to violent outbursts and ended up physically throwing him out of the building. The man was very charming at interview and in the early days of their working relationship, recalls Tucker. Therein lies one of the problems: you can't usually spot a bully until it's too late. "Bullies are sociopaths who use people for their own ends and are very good at hiding their true natures.They are Walter Mitty characters," says Roger Steare. "Bullies do interviews really well."

The only thing you can do to protect yourself in advance is to ask questions and speak to as many people as possible who know the company and/or your future boss. Try any or all of the following: Ask about staff turnover in the department (if it¹s very high, find out why); speak to the current/previous postholder to find out more about the job and the boss. Speak to customers, clients or suppliers who have dealt with him/her.

If you find yourself in a similar situation again, don't suffer in silence for the sake of your CV. Talk to other people in the organisation and see if there is anything that can be done to confront the situation. If not, leave. No job is worth the kind of emotional trauma you have experienced.

Next week's question:

Two weeks ago I was told that they were "reorganising" my department. I report to a head in NY and a manager in London. There was a step above me that I was told would be left open when I complained of a lack of career growth last year. I have now discovered that my role is being advertised both internally and externally. Reading the ads, the role encompasses everything I do except that the title has been changed. We are supposed to be in review time, but my London manager has postponed the review. I do not have a good relationship with this manager who was hired last year and constantly countermands me in public, makes promises that we cannot deliver, and has hijacked my relationships at levels I was dealing with previously. He also has backing from higher up the organisation. What rights do I have? Can I sue for forced dismissal?

What would you advise? Send your answer to: expertadmin@efinancialcareers.com

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