I have a problem with a co-worker who is a classic "workplace bully." This Wikipedia article defines his behavior perfectly: He "kisses up" to the bosses and "kicks down" to the rest of us. He has recently lobbied for and been given a minor promotion. Our manager probably thought that would satisfy him and shut him up, but it's made him worse than ever.

Is there a workplace strategy for dealing with such behavior?

  • possible duplicate of What can I do to make a coworkers lack of effort more visible? – gnat Jul 19 '15 at 8:49
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    Bullying doesn't really strike me as the same as laziness. – Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '15 at 9:32
  • @teego1967 not a duplicate, agree - I misread the question (retracted my vote on that) – gnat Jul 20 '15 at 15:59
  • Please describe some of the specific behaviors this person actually took that you describe as kicking down. It is hard to give advice without a better description of the problem. – HLGEM Jul 20 '15 at 18:11
  • Punch horizontally – Pete Jan 30 at 15:35

Short answer: You flag his behaviour with HR or management.

Be specific. Give exact examples. Ensure that you are not standing alone on this. If others are being inflicted with this behaviour, ensure that they go to management too. The more complaints, the more likely that it will be taken seriously.

Is management aware of his behaviour? Why would they promote him to "shut him up"? It seems to me that if there is a problem, then by promoting him management have condoned his behaviour and even faciliated it, now he can kick down on people he now perceives are organisationally below him. As part of your brief with management, I would mention how his "appeasing" promotion has made his behaviour worse.

True workplace bullying is insidious and must be taken seriously. If you want to have it actioned, you need to take it seriously and complain through the proper channels with evidence and if possible, support from other team members.


You all complain to your manager about his behavior as a group - Make it clear to your management that he is not working well with you as a group and individually. Keep note of his day to day actions (time, date, place, action or reaction, witnesses). Eventually, the management will get a picture of this individual as a co-worker and decide that he is not worth the managerial time of keeping him around.

Decades ago, I and a group of co-workers almost got a new hire fired when we decided that he was a suit and a butt kisser - We simply withheld our day to day cooperation from him, and pushed anything he required way down our individual list of priorities. I am using the word "almost" because we realized that our impression of him was mistaken, immediately stopped what we were doing to him and he was able to meet his milestones and deadlines.

Your co-worker should realize that he can't hold on to his job without the cooperation of those around him. If not, too bad for him.

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    That sounds like a weird advice, take note of all his actions is stalky to say the least, also you're neglecting your actual job. Also the actual example you give is appealing, and pictures of mobs and pitchforks come to mind, when in the end spoiler the guy we almost had fired was actual not that bad. Sorry but it may be one of the worst advice I read. – zebullon Jul 19 '15 at 6:37
  • @zebullon When I get someone fired, I am very careful to document what he is doing. Nothing unfair about that - those were HIS actions, I didn't make make these actions up. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 19 '15 at 6:50
  • @zebullon In the case of the individual that we almost got fired because we withheld our cooperation from him, we stopped the second we realized that we were being mistaken about him. With the power of getting someone fired comes the responsibility of making sure that were are not being unfair in our use of our power. We corrected ourselves. No apologies. I am not using as an excuse the fact that it was that it was the individual who created that impression in the first place. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 19 '15 at 6:50
  • @zebullon As for my allegedly neglecting my actual tasks, I can easily multitask getting my job done, getting you fired from your job and building up to getting myself a good salary review. You wouldn't want me to apply my ability to multitask on you just to get me to prove that I can do it to you. – Vietnhi Phuvan Jul 19 '15 at 6:56
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    Two points - 1. Withholding your day-to-day cooperation from a colleague constitutes neglecting your job duties, and in my mind would warrant your firing. 2. The fact that you were mistaken about your colleague is exactly why this is horrible advice. You could have never realized you were wrong and forced a good worker out of a job. – David K Jul 20 '15 at 12:46

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