Are you a boss who bullies and belittles juniors? Beware, your well-being may be at risk, new research suggests.
The researchers have found that supervisors who were abusive felt a sense of recovery because their boorish behaviour helped replenish their mental energy and resources.
“The moral of the story is that although abuse may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term, over the long haul it will come back to haunt them,” said Russell Johnson, associate professor at Michigan State University (MSU).
According to the study published in the Academy of Management Journal, employees may not immediately confront their bosses following abusive behaviour, over time they may react in negative ways, such as engaging in counterproductive and aggressive behaviours and even quitting the job.
Researchers conducted multiple field and experiments on abusive bosses in the US and China, verifying the results were not culture-specific.
They collected daily survey data over a four-week period and studied workers and supervisors in a variety of industries including manufacturing, service and education.
The benefits of abusive supervision appeared to be short-lived, lasting a week or less.
After that, abusive supervisors started to experience decreased trust, support and productivity from employees — and these are critical resources for the bosses’ recovery and engagement.
To prevent abusive behaviour, the researchers suggest supervisors take well-timed breaks, reduce their workloads and communicate more with their employees.
Communicating with workers may help supervisors by releasing negative emotions through sharing, receiving social support and gaining relational energy from their co-workers, the researchers added.