Verbally Abusive Managers

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By: Marie Donlon

Verbally abusive supervisors may be taking out their family conflicts on their subordinates, according to a recent study from the University of Iowa.

Called “My Family Made Me Do It,” the study determined that some supervisors take their frustrations with their home life out on employees.

Until now, most research only looked at workplace factors when considering what influenced the behavior of abusive supervisors. However, over the two-part study, which included a survey of over 250 managers and employees, researchers determined that supervisors experiencing more family conflict were likely to turn that frustration into verbal abuse directed at their subordinates.

“Supervisors who face competing demands from separate family and work roles are more likely to experience lapses in self-control, which, in turn, makes it more likely they will engage in impulsive and destructive behavior such as abusive supervision,” says Amy Colbert, co-author and professor of management and organizations in the UI Tippie College of Business.

Additionally, researchers found that women experiencing conflict at home were more likely to take out their frustrations in the workplace. Additionally, supervisors who thought they could get away with it under their employer were also likelier to be abusive.

A possible solution, according to the study, is to ensure that managers are also achieving a work-life balance.

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