Workplace bullying is commonly identified with the abuse of physical or hierarchical power. However, the effects of bullying from below by subordinates can be just as harmful and make a manager’s job almost impossible. 

A young warehouse supervisor once told me he’d been driven to despair by a couple of “bullies-from-below” who would perform each task only to the minimum standard required  -  which, of course, was within their legal rights. It took eight months before he was allowed to have one of them transferred to another department. The remaining one got bored with playing the game on his own, so the matter resolved itself.

I advised him that a specialist workplace bullying counsellor might have solved his problem a bit quicker than that. External support like this may be necessary at times, and it is not a sign of weakness to request it.

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