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Our manager threatens our jobs on a regular basis now. He does it when the slightest thing seems to go wrong. Yesterday a staff member (A) said that one of our clients had overheard two other staff members (B + C) talking about a fourth staff member (D). The client had mentioned this to A and A then mentioned it to the manager.

I wasn’t B or C and I don’t see how the manager with such a vague story can begin to threaten staff who have worked faithfully for 10+ years and new staff who are just in the door with their jobs because of stories like this. The actual comment that was apparently overheard could be negative or positive depending on how it was said also.

This is just one example of course but this threat is a regular occurance. Our manager is also our HR. He had made the threats in front of staff more senior than him as well as when just with us.

How do we respond to this? I don’t feel that I am doing anything that would warrant dismissal and that the threats are empty but they are also very emotive and leave you on edge.

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    Is your manager the owner and does the manager likely have the authority to fire employees without consulting anyone? Also, what country is this if it is the US and you're working 'at will' that obviously makes a difference. – Dustybin80 Mar 7 at 16:12
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    @Dustybin80 "in front of staff more senior than him" would imply that this manager is not the owner. – brhans Mar 7 at 16:17
  • @brhans ah, that is true I missed that. However I think my other questions remain relevant. – Dustybin80 Mar 7 at 16:25
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    How do these threats actually play out? Something that one person may see as "a threat to my job" may be seen by another person as "my manager is making my priorities clear and communicating the severity of this issue or task." – dwizum Mar 7 at 17:06
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    I’m in the UK, the manager is not the owner and does need the owners go ahead to hire and fire, but otherwise does make the calls. He has made the threat in front of the owner on three occasions now without protest from owner. – Smaria Mar 7 at 18:37
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Clearly this manager has some issues if he is constantly behaving this way. The fact that they are also your HR leaves you and your colleagues in a bad position.

This is probably a case where you should polish up your resume and start looking for other opportunities. Your manager/HR is clearly a workplace bully and nobody deserves to be treated this way.

Until you have found a new job, there is nothing for you to respond. Carry on doing your work as normal and don't get into any discussions if your manager starts making threats. Once you have a signed written offer you can hand in your resignation and this mess will be in the past. Good luck.

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"Find another employer" is an extremely common advice here on Workplace.SE (see the answer from @sf02 ), as opposed to actually fixing the problem somehow. Changing jobs can be very difficult in many locations / industries. It should not be on the top of the list, it should actually be close to the bottom.

In this particular case: since it seems the company is a very small one, contacting the owners is usually more feasible. Explaining the situation to them will trigger at least some sort of informal investigation from them, maybe even more. Even if the manager in question is a (close) friend of the owners (something commonly encountered in small companies), his behavior is threating their business, which is clearly not acceptable, no matter how well you know that person.

It would definitely help if you went to talk to the owners as a group (multiple employees) instead of alone, it will send a stronger message that this is indeed a serious issue that affects the company as a whole, not just "an upset employee".

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In the UK there are very clear and straightforward laws about this. IANAL but there's a good lot of stuff here: https://www.gov.uk/dismissal and a quick chat with, say, Citizens Advice would advise you of the legality of such threats...

From my limited knowledge, these threats sound like so much noise and hot air and should be treated as such (and that's probably why they're ignored by the higher-ups).

  • acas.org.uk can also provide help and advise on UK employment law – Ben Mar 8 at 15:15
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Threatening your job is absolutely unacceptable behaviour. It’s like pointing a gun at you: The only time you aim a gun at someone should be when you want to shoot them.

Doesn’t matter if he is your manager, if you says he wants to fire you, you get up and say: “Do you want to fire me? Really? If you don’t want to fire me, then don’t say you want to. “ Alternative: “You want to fire me? Do you look as if I care?”

That kind of behaviour points to a coward and bully. The only way to stop this is to make clear that you know what he is.

Of course it’s a good idea to get a written offer elsewhere which may enable you to get a very nice exit.

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