Before confronting the manager, make sure your CEO will back the intervention, both strategically and legally. Do not meet with the manager unless the CEO also is present. (It also might be necessary to have your legal counsel be part of the intervention team.)
Remember this for objectivity: Adults who become bullies often were bullied or abused during childhood. It evolves as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, the behavior works if it goes unchallenged.
a) Stroke the ego and reframe the behavior
When detailing examples of his bullying behavior—physical or otherwise—it is important to also acknowledge his positive contributions to the firm. He may not believe he can channel his aggression without being stifled. However, he needs to learn to be dominant without being domineering, as ultimately such behavior puts his own career and the company in jeopardy. Does he really feel proud of himself when pushing around people who are not his equal in size, synapses or status?
For this individual, change won't happen from one “constructive confrontation,” from reading a self-help book, or even from typical management methods. Suggest that he voluntarily avail himself of confidential executive coaching/anger management courses (off site) for two to three months, at the firm's expense. If this is turned down, it may be necessary to mandate he take such classes.
There may need to be a group intervention before this senior manager opens up to the above approaches. Such an intervention might include you, the CEO and any colleagues he sees as “near equals”—and, perhaps, even people he has particularly aggrieved, professionally or personally. Have a professional consultant facilitate the intervention.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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