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Jennifer Newman: How bosses can stand up to bullies

Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman explains what can be done when the person in charge loses credibility on the job.

Bosses get bullied, too, particularly when they have lots of responsibility, but no authority

Being assertive in the workplace is a necessary skill, says Jennifer Newman (Getty Images/Image Source)

Even bosses get bullied.

Though it would seem supervisors or managers are usually the ones that bully subordinates, the opposite also happens. The behaviour can range from being ignored, humiliated or intimidated to being the brunt of practical jokes and pranks.

Even though bosses generally have the authority to stop bullies at most workplaces by, say, firing them, that's not always the case, said workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman.

"In some workplaces, the boss may have all the responsibility to get the job done but no authority to see that it happens," she told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Here are some tips from Newman on what bosses can do to assert their authority and regain respect.

Find out what's contributing to the bullying

"Identify the system factors first, like having lots of responsibility and no power, or being unable to be firm with a subordinate who's being protected from above for some reason," Newman said.

"And then look at your personal factors, like being overly passive in the face of disrespect."

Team up with an ally

"Go to the boss with the authority, ask him or her to co-present to the team with you to identity project goals and timelines together," Newman said.

"The responsible supervisor needs to be seen as an extension of the boss with authority. They need to be a strong team themselves."

Take a stand

"Tackle how you respond to bullying employees, let them know it's unacceptable," said Newman.

"Follow your company bullying and harassment policy, and if the company doesn't have one, spearhead making one, and get it in place.

"Expect a few hard months while you establish your credibility and right to be treated respectfully."

Listen to the full interview: Workplace psychologist Jennifer Newman