How to Deal with Bully Bosses and Rogue Managers: Minimise Your Chances of a Six Year Claim Liability

BlogHR Advice Posted: Tuesday 8th August 2017 by

As a savvy HR manager or business owner, you’ll have great policies in place to manage performance-related issues within your team – especially dealing with performance that is not up to required standards. But what do you do when you employ a manager that performs well but has an attitude or behaviour problem and has become a workplace liability?

To take no action not only endorses the behaviour of a rogue manager but can be incredibly costly to your business. The limitation period for a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act (PHA 1997) is six years. This means that even if an employee has left your business, they can still bring a claim of harassment to a tribunal for up to six years.

Normally, under the Equality Act 2010, employers can escape being held vicariously liable for harassment of their employees, if they can demonstrate that they took reasonably practical steps to prevent it happening. However, no such defence exists under the PHA 1997.

It is therefore imperative that rogue management styles are stamped out of your business with a hard and clear message of zero tolerance.

Take a closer look at your hiring and performance management systems

It’s easier, in the long run, to tackle the behaviour of a rogue manager right from the very first signs of trouble. Ignoring the situation just makes matters works and means that other members of staff may be subject to bullying and harassment, which, if not dealt with efficiently, may lead to claims under PHA 1997 later down the line.

Policies and processes to pay particular attention to, include:

Recruitment and hiring: do you have effective processes for managing your recruitment process? Are all employees thoroughly reference checked? Is more than one opinion sought during the hiring process?

Performance management: Who manages your managers? What processes are in place for dealing with behavioural issues from your top team? What feedback processes are in place, from your staff and customers?

Grievance and disciplinary: Are your grievance and disciplinary policies up to date? Does every member of staff know how to access them and/or where to turn if they feel they are being harassed or bullied by a manager in the workplace?

Internal promotion: Not everyone is suited to working as a manager. Just because someone is great at their own job, doesn’t mean they will be great at managing others.

Get back to the floor

A business owner, managing director or CEO that sits in an office all day will not have a clear picture of what’s really happening in the company. Make it your mission to take regular walks around your office/factory/warehouse – if you have multiple locations, then make it your mission to have ears on the ground. Having a regular and visible presence may naturally prevent any unwanted behaviour.

Remember that a business is more than its sales team

A good business with a stable and robust workforce requires every department to work together. Sales teams need support from admin staff, production teams are fuelled by purchasing and operations departments, and no-one gets hired or paid without finance or HR.

Playing favourites with one particular team over another is like picking a favourite child – it will eventually breed an environment of discontent amongst the rest of your employees. Focussing solely on the numbers and forgetting about the processes is a recipe for disaster.

These steps may take a little extra effort but will help you to maintain balance and harmony across your team and keep rogue management styles to a minimum.


For confidential advice about any aspect of HR and performance management, get in touch with our team of HR specialists.


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