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I've been with my company for 9 months as a software developer. Several times I've witnessed the boss shouting at people, talking condescendingly or aggressively.

So far, he's only pulled me aside to badmouth my colleague in an attempt to "motivate me" (his words). I've realised working with this boss is causing me a lot of stress.

Otherwise I like the company and the work.

Is this a red flag that warrants leaving the company?

My guts tells me that if that's how he treats my colleagues, it may be how he'll treat me in the near future or how he talks about me behind my back. I have no financial problem and no issue finding works elsewhere

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    For you, boss = Project Manager ? Or CEO ? Can you work in the same company for another boss ? – LP154 Jan 8 at 10:30
  • Yes he is also project manager. It is a small company (less than 40 people) so there isn't really room for moving in the company. – Clonk Jan 8 at 10:31
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    Regular yelling or belittling is usually a sign of a lack of professionalism. – Mark Rogers Jan 8 at 17:57
  • I'm surprised there aren't any answers here about reporting his behaviour to HR. Surely this toxic behaviour must be against at least one company policy. – Ian MacDonald Jan 8 at 21:21
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    @MarkRogers It's also workplace abuse. No one deserves to be yelled at in a professional matter. Maybe scolded every once in a while, but regular yelling is definitely abuse. – John Hamilton Jan 9 at 5:58
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Yes, it is bad. Your instinct is right and the fact that you're asking us indicates you already know the answer.

Your boss' motivation for acting like this doesn't matter. He may be a sociopath, he may be misguided, but the result is the same: you get stressed out and are miserable.

And as you said even if he doesn't treat you like this now, he has shown he's capable of it so there's no guarantee he won't act like this towards you in the future.

My advice is to polish up your CV and let the free market do its thing.

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    Also I would document everything just in case finding another job takes more time than expected and the situation needs to be escalated to HR. Which isn't the case now, of course, but better be prepared for the worst. – BriseFlots Jan 8 at 10:45
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    Absolutely - always a good idea to cya – rath Jan 8 at 10:48
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    There's a quote making its way around the web now for this: "People don't quit jobs, they quit bosses." – Ethan The Brave Jan 8 at 15:56
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    Keep in ind that witnessing bullying is almost as stressful as if it's happening to you directly. And yes, it's inevitable that he'll turn against you at some point. Leave before you get beaten down – user90842 Jan 8 at 19:51
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    When asked why you're leaving, I recommend a generic I was offered a position too good to pass up answer (or similar). Don't mention the real reason, since there is no gain in doing so, and you'd probably burn a bridge by telling the truth. – Gertsen Jan 9 at 10:15
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Your boss's behaviour is unacceptable. Being aggressive with co-workers is never acceptable, even more so when you are a manager.

Since it stresses you, you have to do something about this.

There isn't really room for moving in the company.

I have no financial problem and no issue finding works elsewhere

I think the answer is here. Get another job and then quit.

You won't be able to make him change his behaviour. His hierarchical position and your "juniority" will play against you and you only risk burning bridges by confronting him.

A company that promotes/keeps an aggressive project manager is a bad company. It can happen in big ones because upper management don't see it and there are a lot of managers, but in smaller ones the upper management can see it and it seems they don't do anything. Even if they do not see this, a toxic manager like this can slow your career progression or stop it completely.

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I have no financial problem and no issue finding works elsewhere

Given these 2 facts you should certainly look for another job at your leisure. I would keep my head down and try and finish out a year first and leave on good terms if it wasn't too stressful. Because it looks better that way. But I don't really care how others are treated.

I've worked for people like this before and eventually you will get the short end as well for something probably quite minor. But if you can get through and leave on good terms it's worth doing. After you leave don't bad mouth your old workplace either, the people who know it will already be aware and think well of you for getting through unscathed, those who don't might assume anything.

  • It's weird. I don't see how there are people who "know it" if the common/best practice for everybody is to be silent about anything negative. Do they rely on "bad" and "unprofessional" employees to get the info? Are the worst employees in this regard the best sources of information? Does nobody value honesty and integrity? Just wondering... – Battle Jan 9 at 7:22
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    @Battle Not just the workplace. At some point, being a decent guy stopped meaning "stand up for what's right", and became "don't do anything bad, even to people who do bad things". "If you don't like it, leave" is an easy way out, and it really does work (trying to fix the problem is fraught with difficulties). And this widespread tolerance of intolerance tends to promote intolerance. Not that this is a new problem - "All that's needed for the Bad guys to win is for the Good guys to do nothing" and all that :) I know many decent guys who wouldn't even tell an asshole he's being an asshole. – Luaan Jan 9 at 10:29
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    @Luaan I'm a good guy, and if an a-wipe was acting up towards me, my family or a helpless person I would definitely do something. But you pick your battles, I expect other men to stick up for themselves. If they don't then that's their problem on an individual level. Getting involved could be harmful to them. I live in a country where jobs are so scarce a lot of people put up with abuse as part of the job including taking physical punishment. That's up to them, if I interfered I could save them, and then they'd be unemployed feeding their families on grass. It's not black and white, rarely is. – Kilisi Jan 9 at 22:37
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    @Kilisi No argument there - on a personal level, it makes 100% sense. The sad side-effect of this is that it progressively gets worse - not fast enough to be obvious, not fast enough that it really makes sense for you personally to try doing something about it (the effort is not worth the return to you and the people around you), but it just keeps getting worse. I suspect the same slow decay preceded things like Hitler gaining power in Germany - it slowly makes some people resigned and uncaring, and others hostile (both the abusers, the abused, and the watchers). Wish I had a solution :) – Luaan Jan 10 at 8:09
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    @Luaan In the modern working environment, everyone is responsible for their own careers, not the careers of others. This includes leaving toxic environments. It's bad for the company, of course, but it's the company's fault anyway. If everyone who can get another job does, the company fades into unimportance, and the problem is solved the good old market economy way. – David Thornley Jan 10 at 17:26
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Is this a red flag that warrants leaving the company ? My guts tells me that if that's how he treats my colleague, it may be how he'll treat me in the future or how he talks about me behind my back.

You are 100% correct.

I have no financial problem and no issue finding works elsewhere.

I would suggest this is a sensible option. Just make sure you don't badmouth your boss on the way out, and then you've got yourself a clean exit with a good reference.

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Why don't you turn this into an opportunity?
You might prepare an answer like "Sir (or Madam), I don't like employees being shouted at. I particularly dislike it when somebody does it with me. Therefore I'd like to request you to refrain from shouting.". (I particularly advise you to tell this to your boss when you're alone with him/her)

There are two possibilities:

  • Either (s)he won't care and will shout at you. This is exactly what would have happened before, so you loose nothing here.
  • Either (s)he will care about what you say and refrain from shouting. As a result you might be the one who has teached the boss to stop shouting, which might be good for your career (other colleagues will like you for it and the boss will respect you for standing up for yourself).

Good luck

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    I wouldn't do that till after you've given notice :-) – user90842 Jan 8 at 19:52
  • Yeah, option 3 is that he/she takes offense at you pushing back, the workplace gets a lot uglier for you, and they possibly arrange to have you let go. It really can get quite a lot worse than the situation the OP is describing. – Ben Barden Jan 8 at 20:36
  • BenBarden and George : exactly my point: Yaourtoide is in a very comfortable position: no financial worries and no problem finding another job in case this backfires, so there's room for such experiments. – Dominique Jan 8 at 22:13
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    @Dominique experiment? With intentionally angering a person with known anger management issues? I'd -1 but I already did. Bad advice. If you want to act out hero fantasy find a bully and stand up to them yourself. – user85135 Jan 8 at 23:32

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