I read a very disturbing article in the Herald Sun newspaper yesterday. It had to do with a salesman who claims to have been a victim of cyber bullying. Harassment in the workplace can take many forms but this case is interesting because it was carried out by his boss via email. It is all too easy to fall into that trap as managers. We might be doing it even without realizing it but it's important to think twice before sending any emails of a disciplinary nature to your staff.

When I read this I was actually quite horrified as this sort of thing has huge implications in Australian Workplace laws and I'm sure it has the same implications in a lot of other countries laws now as well.

Just to give you an idea of some of the emails this worker was sent by his boss: "Now that things are not going your way.....I can offer these words-harden the f**k up. Don't cry at everything that does not go your way" Another one, "I did not care that you did not take lunch break? As Gordon Gecko said "lunch is for wimps". I take them but I am still working at 9.39 pm...constantly". And perhaps the worst one: "You keep forgetting that the money *** forks out for your salary comes from me-not some pensioner shareholder in Idaho. Given that, I demand you get results not f**king excuses. It is not personal it is just business".

Honestly, this boss is the wimp not the worker he was abusing here. Given the workplace relations laws, wouldn't you have half the brain to realize that this is nothing more than workplace discrimination? The statistics on workplace bullying by bosses is quite staggering. To quote the Australian Human Rights Commission, "In fact, in 2005 WorkCover (ACT) estimated the dollar 'cost' of workplace bullying saying, "The financial cost of workplace bullying to business in Australia is estimated to be between $6 billion and $13 billion a year." This includes indirect costs, such as absenteeism, labor turnover, loss of productivity and legal costs". It also found that the 'stereotype' of the 'bully boss' was very real, with 72% of bullies being bosses, and 55% of those bullied being rank-and-file workers; and that with regard to turnover "40% of bullied workers voluntarily leave". What a sad state of affairs! Are you one of those pathetic 72% of bosses? If you are it might be time to stop and think and perhaps even grow up!

I have seen cases like this over and over again in my years in management and believe me, the legitimate ones that make it to court, NEVER go well for bullying bosses. You could end up costing your company thousands if not tens of thousands of dollars in compensation and loosing your job to boot. Is it worth it for you or your company to behave like the boss mentioned at the beginning of this article? That case is obviously going to go to court and as the workers lawyer said in the paper, "It doesn't matter if you are a janitor or a CEO of a big four bank, there's a difference between swearing and abusing someone". It doesn't matter how bad you think some of your staff are, there are better ways to deal with issues than with threatening emails and the like.

Basically the bottom line is this. If you as a manager think that one or more of your staff members are not performing well, not getting results or are full of excuses, then do something constructive about it. Don't be like that idiot boss we mentioned earlier. That is no way for a boss to behave or deal with his staff. In fact, for his stupidity and lack of thought, the worker he abused is probably going to cost him a lot more money and it will hurt more because, as he said, "your salary comes from me-not some pensioner shareholder in Idaho".

Author's Bio: 

My name is Andrew Bailey.I have been in various management roles for nearly 15 years. I have worked for small husband and wife companies to large telephony companies.