Chronic Bullies

Chronic bullies are the worst kind of bullies. They consistently bully others and are usually adept at doing this in complex and hidden ways. If you have a chronic bully in your organisation you will have a lot of complaints, high absenteeism, high staff turnover and poor staff morale and performance. They are also very clever at keeping others off their trail.

How can you know if you have a chronic bully? Here are some characteristics;

1. They have an inordinate need to have power and control over people and situations. It is something like an addiction. When they get power they will use it destructively.

2. They may be highly skilled in one or two areas e.g. they may have a lot of charm, be able to talk well, may be great organisers, promoters etc.

3. They may get results – KPI results that is. But they often destroy people along the way.

4. They are autocratic rather than collaborative. Chronic bullies are loners who may be good at getting others to do what they want – but they operate as "one-man or one-woman bands" due to their need to be dominant.

5. They are manipulative and deceitful. It can be quite difficult to get them to own up or face facts. They can do all kinds of things behind your back and blatantly lie in order to cover their tracks. Deceit in within their character. It creates a Jekyll and Hyde trait and a real lack of honesty and accountability.

6. They lack empathy for others and do not see how their behaviour impacts upon them. They disregard the impact their behaviour has on others. They can be cruel. They tend to target people until they submit or leave.

7. They can be impulsive, cocky and self-assured. Some can be quite narcissistic and have a hugely exaggerated opinion about themselves and their abilities. Impulsivity is their Achilles heel. They may hide it under a veil of process orientation however under pressure they will completely disregard it.

8. They become very threatened when you start challenging them. This is mainly due to their inability to resolve conflicts and deal with their problems. They may make all kinds of threats when you begin to challenge them. The idea is to get you off their trail.

You are far better not to hire a chronic bully in the first place, however most employers would not recognize a chronic bully and instead hire him/her after being impressed with them during the recruitment stage. We advise on screening for chronic bullies.

See WAVE Recruitment Screening Tool (19 KB pdf).

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