I see the merits of learning through adversity, I really do.
But why do so many people treat getting yelled at as if it was a badge of honour?
You’ve heard it all before.
“Back in my day, my boss used to scream at me. Today, I appreciate all that my boss taught me, because that adversity led to resilience.”
There are bosses who yell at their employees in Malaysia. And I’m talking about the variety where they call their staff “f*cking useless idiots” who are “too stupid to do your job”.
Extra points if the boss yells these things in front of the whole office. Then add spice if some sort of book or file is thrown at the employee.
In another office that I used to work in, I had a boss who targeted their yelling towards two staff members. It didn’t matter if they were in the office, or in a meeting with the head honchos. Both of them have since left that company, though I can’t say if that’s due to the yelling or other factors.
In a post detailing his own experience with office yelling, a Facebook user named Joe Najib aired his views on office yelling and our reactions to it.
His ending section began with:
“I wonder how many young bloods out there today will feel insulted and humiliated if their boss speaks to them the way mine did, and throw in the letter immediately, saying “f*ck this shit, I deserve better.”
He went on to conclude:
“Yes, youngsters, we’re made of tougher-grade materials.
Grow some balls. And prove to us you can handle it like we did.”
To some extent, I agree.
If all it takes is one screaming session for an employee to cut their losses and leave the company, then I personally think that the employee does need to toughen up a little.
But should that be an excuse for a boss to verbally abuse their employees, in full earshot of their colleagues?
When you rule by yelling at your employees, you’re not commanding respect—you’re instilling fear. You might get them to bow their heads and do their jobs, but does this mean that they respect you?
Consistent yelling and cursing can be devastating to your business. You might be cutting off communication lines to you, allowing toxic ruts to fester beyond your knowledge.
An office in fear of abuse might not be open to expressing any ideas or opinions that might help the company.
Your employees may withdraw or become depressed if they’re consistent targets of yelling or cursing in the office. We know that stress is bad for health, and therefore, your bottom line when it comes to sick days and productivity.
Or in a worse case scenario, your employees might become insubordinate and refuse to cooperate with you.
Not to mention, many workplaces consider such yelling to be unprofessional.
Sure, there are those that can and have taken similar treatment and thrived. But there are also those who break under similar pressure, squandering their talent in a workplace that actively diminishes their potential for contributions.
Are bosses yelling because it’s good for their employees, or because they want to blow off some steam?
If the objective is to reprimand the employee for mistakes, couldn’t that easily be accomplished behind closed doors?
If the objective is to make a lesson out of said employee’s mistakes, can’t that be done without the cursing and the name-calling?
By doing this, you indicate to your subordinates that you don’t respect their right to a certain degree of privacy in the workplace and that your personal gratification should come above their feelings of security and safety.
Being a boss shouldn’t be a treat, it should be a responsibility.
I’m not saying that you can’t call out an employee’s mistakes to get them to do better.
I’m not saying that you can’t reprimand or admonish them for bad behaviour.
I’m not saying you can’t tell an employee they’ve done a bad job when they did exactly that.
But I am saying that as a boss, if you feel like the only way to light a fire under your employee’s derriere is to call them ‘f*cking stupid’, then you’ve failed them.
A friend revealed that after she got thoroughly chewed out by her employer, she began to tense up whenever she heard her boss’ footsteps or saw her walking by. And if she’s focused on whether you’re walking by or not, maybe she’s not fully focused on work.
It only took one yelling session for her to develop this “trauma”.
Yelling can produce short-term results. But it’ll kill you in the long run.
Studies have shown cultivating a positive work culture instead can improve productivity and your bottom line in the long run.
Part of said culture? Treating your employees like actual human adults, instead of ‘carrot and stick’–ing them.
Treating your employees like dirt is part of an archaic, top-down workplace culture that fosters no growth—only obedience.
And I for one, would be happy to be rid of it. I’m sure modern bosses can find other ways to introduce adversity into their employee’s day-to-day work; there are other ways to create a trial by fire.
Is that mollycoddling your employees? Maybe.
After all, why should you, the boss, have to expend time, effort and self-gratification in order to carve out a work environment that your employees might like working in—and then spend more time and energy to maintain it?
But if it creates a work environment that is less stressful, productive and open to conversations, then I guess I am part of the mollycoddled millennial workforce who wants that. And what’s wrong with that?
The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own.