Safety is of the utmost importance right now during this COVID crisis. Businesses that are open during this time need to put new safety procedures in place to ensure everyone is protected from the novel coronavirus. You’ve probably seen companies share how they are protecting their staff and their customers. But how do you make sure your employees are taking all the necessary precautions? Today, we discuss some recent research about how abusive supervision can lead to accidental misses in safety.
We’ve talked about the importance of being treated with respect by leaders for your wellness. We all know how it feels to be treated poorly by others and how harmful and hurtful it is. Abusive supervisors are particularly bad since they have quite a bit of control over your work life and livelihood.
So, what is abusive supervision? A supervisor or manager is abusive if they show some non-physical aggressive behaviors toward an employee. Let’s look at some examples. A manager ignores one team member during team meetings. They do not let the team member ask questions and do not acknowledge their ideas or suggestions. In another example, an employee goes to their manager concerned about a losing a client. The manager berates the employee, calling them lazy and blaming them for the situation.
In both examples, the manager does something directly to an employee. It can be verbal or non-verbal. When measuring abusive supervision, questions researchers ask people include if their boss ridicules them, gives them the silent treatment, puts them down in front of others, and invades their privacy. In simple terms, the manager is awful if they are abusive!
The Impact on Safety
Now that we know about abusive supervisors, how do they impact safety? Interesting new research shows abusive supervisors are bad for everyone, not just their victims! Employees with abusive supervisors feel like a less valued team member. They don’t feel like they belong to the bigger group. They don’t feel important and like what they do for the team even matters. That is awful on its own but this study took it one step further. Employees with abusive supervisors were less likely to do safety-related behaviors! In other words, they didn’t follow safety procedures closely or pay attention to their surroundings to catch any potential problems.
Let’s break that down a bit further. Basically, these employees are not being as safe as they could be. But it’s not intentional! It’s not some sort of awful retaliation. It all comes down to that sense of belonging. The abusive leader makes them feel less important. So they don’t see how important or how impactful their behavior is. They aren’t recognizing that their actions impact their safety and the safety of the team. Pretty scary, right?! Having a jerk boss can make people be less safe unknowingly. That means this jerk boss can impact the safety of the whole team and customers just by being abusive to one person.
What To Do
Now that we see the scary consequences of abusive leaders, what can we do? We are definitely hoping all the restaurants we like to get take-out from have good managers! In addition, we have a few suggestions to help encourage safety in light of this research.
- Managers and supervisors should seek feedback and take a good hard look at themselves. Are you treating your employees differently? Is there an employee you don’t like that maybe you aren’t as nice to? Be honest with yourself and change your behaviors if you think you’ve treated someone rudely or unfairly.
- Employees should be supportive of each other. If you see someone being treated badly by the leader, reach out to them. See how they are doing. Remind them that they are part of the team and you value their contribution. Make them feel like they belong so they don’t take the importance of their actions for granted.
- Are you being treated badly by your supervisor? First, we are so sorry. Second, know you deserve better and when the opportunity arises, get out of that situation. Third, remember that you are important and your actions matter. Think about the safety of the people you like at work. Think about your customers. Try not to forget that what you do is important even if your leader doesn’t make you feel that way. We know that’s hard but use this article as a reminder to pay attention to safety!
Having an abusive supervisor is a really hard situation. We hope you learn from this article and don’t let that be the reason you catch or spread coronavirus. We also hope you are all healthy and staying safe out there! Remember that your actions matter!