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Melbourne Business School News Podcast: Why abusive managers are best spotted by their boss

Podcast: Why abusive managers are best spotted by their boss

When managers act abusively, their boss is the best person to spot it – rather than their reports, who may think that's just "how things are done".

Hostility toward employees from a manager is called "abusive supervision", and it can include actively lying to subordinates, ridiculing them, not giving them the credit they deserve and being overly controlling.

In her latest research, Deshani Ganegoda, an Associate Professor of Management at Melbourne Business School, looked at the psychological effects abuse has on victimised employees and the role of the senior manager in these situations. She spoke with Yasmin Rupisinghe about her findings in the latest episode of the Melbourne Business School Podcast.

"Subordinates can sometimes justify and normalise bad behaviour of their managers," she said.

"For example, when your whole team gets treated badly, you might think that's just how things are done around here. You don't consider it as an anomaly. In fact, subordinates might even justify abusive supervision as tough love or think that's just 'how my manager motivates people'.

"In contrast, senior managers are above the abusive supervisor. They have the vantage point to see the behaviour of many middle level managers. So, they see the difference between abusive supervisors and non-abusive supervisors."

Associate Professor Ganegoda said that senior managers were not just best-placed to spot abusive supervision, but also to intervene.

"If someone were to stop abusive supervision from happening, it's going to be the supervisor's manager."

Listen to the full episode above or visit our podcasts page for more.

Associate Professor Ganegoda's research centres on the topics of behavioural ethics, organisational justice, negotiation and workplace deviance. Her research has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Organisational Behavior and more. Visit her faculty profile for more information.

Yasmin is a Program Manager on our Executive MBA and Senior Executive MBA programs, and a radio presenter for PBS FM.

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