Employees who retaliate against bosses feel less victimised
A new study has found that returning hostility to the bosses makes employees feel less like victims.
Washington: A new study has found that returning hostility to the bosses makes employees feel less like victims.
The study found that when employees retaliate against their bad bosses, it results in less psychological distress, more job satisfaction and more commitment to their employer.
Bennett Tepper, lead author of the study and professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University said that the best situation was certainly when there was no hostility. But if your boss was hostile, there appeared to be benefits in reciprocating.
Hostile bosses are ones who did things like yell at, ridicule and intimidate their workers. Employees who returned hostility did it by ignoring their boss, acting like they didn't know what their bosses were talking about, and giving just half-hearted effort.
The research involved data from two related studies that the researchers conducted. The first study included 169 people who completed two surveys by mail, 7 months apart, where the respondents completed a 15-item measure of supervisor hostility developed by Tepper in 2000. It asked participants to rate how often their supervisors did things like ridiculing them and telling them that their "thoughts and feelings are stupid."
Results showed that when bosses were hostile - but employees didn't retaliate - the workers had higher levels of psychological distress, less satisfaction with their jobs and less commitment to their employer.
However, those employees who returned the hostility didn't see those negative consequences, Tepper said.
The researchers conducted a second study, which involved an online survey of 371 people from across the country who were surveyed 3 times, each 3 weeks apart.
Results showed that employees who turned the hostility back on their bosses were less likely to identify themselves as victims - and were then less likely to report psychological distress and more likely to be satisfied with and committed to their jobs.
How can returning hostility not only help employees avoid psychological distress, but also allow them to remain committed to their employer and be more satisfied with their jobs?
Although this study didn't examine that issue directly, Tepper said he believes employees who fight back may have the admiration and respect of co-workers.
He said the real answer was to get rid of hostile bosses. And there may be other responses to hostile bosses that may be more beneficial.
The study is published online in the journal Personnel Psychology.