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Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies: Demons in the workplace

Nov. 20, 2009
Employees are the cornerstone of successful organizations, deserving to be treated as valued members of that workplace. When such a toxic environment exists, workers will suffer many types of disturbing behavior and attacks.
Queen Bees, micromanagers and bullies are very similar in personality and behavior. Essentially, all three are the same. Most of us have experienced bullying personalities in workplaces. Blindsided by the saboteur present in each of these “workplace demons,” workers are often left with no other choice than to leave the workplace. These bullies are there to insert themselves into every area of working life, interfering with any and all attempts for workers to be successful or productive.Most often in positions of power, this personal toxic trait is extremely damaging to the work environment, causing high employee turnover rates, worker dissatisfaction, and loss of self-esteem for employees. The bullying behavior is intentional and meant to cause hurt and distress.Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies will always have a target. A sharp, well-liked, and successful employee is usually a target. Targeting an individual gives them a mission, and that mission is always destructive. Believing themselves to be the only ones capable, smart, hard-working, and set on a higher plane, they will make sure that no one ever calls their bluff and will work diligently in a concentrated effort to clear out anyone that may attempt to do so.Backhanded compliments, snide remarks made with a smile, and setting workers up for failure or humiliation are all part of their scheme. Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies may be male or female. Sometimes the employer is the bully, Queen Bee or micromanger, and possibly a combination of all three.Occasionally, there is more than one involved and they work together targeting others. Their personal interaction with each other can be volatile due to the personality traits similar in both of them. They thrive on chaos and havoc created for employees. Generally in management positions, they will not help in solving problems, but function as if they are not involved and all others should be able to resolve the dilemmas. Acting as if they are not a part or cause of the problem, they may become more aggressive with the intent to undermine, harass, and distress workers.Constant threats of firing are always looming over selected targets. Control of everyone, everything, and all events (not meant to manage effectively or resolve issues) in the workplace is of paramount importance to Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies. Receiving admiration from each other and business clients rate very high on their personal success meter, because they see themselves as the only ones worthy of admiration or praise. When workers are successful with clients or job duties, they set out to downplay, destroy, or fire that employee. Success by employees is viewed as competition.Maintaining appearances for the Queen Bee, micromanager, or bully is a constant preoccupation. They see themselves as “Large and In Charge” and will take advantage of every opportunity to make known the purportedly prestigious positions they hold. Kindness, consideration, ethics, truth, and honesty are almost nonexistent for this destructive personality type while on the job. On the other hand, they will expect all of these wonderful qualities from others. They do not feel that those qualities are required from them toward workers, viewed as “the help.” The Queen Bee, micromanager, and bully are rarely recognized for their true character by anyone not in their employment or under their management. Often, they operate under a facade of politeness and virtue. The real temperament of the bully is not exposed, since it may take weeks, months, or years to be discovered. This temperament can change suddenly from polite and virtuous to mean-spirited and scheming from day to day, or moment to moment, and one target may be the only goal for that day or moment.Mental and emotional exhaustion takes hold as workers are on constant alert, and an atmosphere of heaviness envelops the office, leaving workers in despair. Employees begin to disappear, leaving clients to assume those workers were not capable of possessing the lofty attributes required by the organization as portrayed by the Queen Bee, micromanager, or bully.Clients do not understand the paradigm in that workplace. When the truth begins to become apparent to outsiders, and the demons are facing exposure, the need for staff changes is automatically triggered. New, unsuspecting employees are hired buying more time before the atmosphere once again becomes too toxic to hide.Be aware that the “demons” discussed in this commentary inhabit workplaces and are vicious and destructive. Avoid them when and wherever encountered. In other words, “run for the hills” as they are the cause of depression, low productivity, and creators of devalued workers.Employees are the cornerstone of successful organizations, deserving to be treated as valued members of that workplace. When such a toxic environment exists, workers will suffer many types of disturbing behavior and attacks. There is no evidence that low self-esteem is the cause for bullying; this behavior seemingly stems from the fear that individual employees will “show them up.” Unfortunately, there are rarely winners in this dreadful situation. Queen Bees, micromanagers, and bullies in the workplace have devastating effects on employees and their environment which will eventually become apparent to clients.
Rebecca Claunch, RDH, graduated from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, School of Dentistry, Division of Dental Hygiene in 1982. Ms. Claunch continues her education through UMKC School of Dentistry, Division of Dental Hygiene, completing her Bachelor of Science degree with plans to pursue a Master's Degree. She is an advocate for distance education and degree completion.