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Your Yelling Boss Gets Tired of Yelling After a Week

Being a jerk to employees makes your boss feel better -- but only for awhile until the abuse begins to take a toll on the boss's mental health, according to a new Michigan State University study.

You might think the manager who is a yeller secretly enjoys being this way. And, maybe he or she does enjoy it to an extent, but the enjoyment doesn't last.

According to the MSU press release:

Bullying and belittling employees starts to take its toll on a supervisor's mental state after about a week, according to the study, which is published in the Academy of Management Journal.

"The moral of the story is that although abuse may be helpful and even mentally restorative for supervisors in the short-term, over the long haul it will come back to haunt them," said Russell Johnson, MSU associate professor of management and an expert on workplace psychology.

Why does it all go downhill after a week? Because the boss begins to experience subtle blow back from employees in the form of flagging support, decreasing trust and slowing productivity -- the very workplace factors that keep bosses at all levels happy and engaged!

You Don't Need To Yell
Eventually, employees turn on each other and quit, which only makes things worse. Enter stage right Best Actor In An Abusive Managerial Role five-time winner Kevin Spacey, who has taken a bad boss star turn in everything from Horrible Bosses to House of Cards. However, I'm going with Swimming With Sharks for purposes of this blog post. No Hollywood actor does bad management better on screen. (Warning: Language NSFW -- unless your boss is fond of yelling four-letter words all day.)

The researchers suggests managers make time for breaks, get to know their employees (presumably as real people), and adjust their workloads as necessary to keep from blowing their tops too often. Also, a life outside of work helps, but that's just my advice.

So if you think you're tired of getting yelled at by the boss, just know that the boss apparently gets tired of yelling at you, too. At least after a week or so.


  1. Unfortunately there are many horrible bosses on the market. The other day I was reading an article that one of the most important causes of quitting, specially for millennials, was having a bad boss.

    1. Having a bad boss is a very common reason for quitting across generations, unfortunately. The boss sets the tone for the work culture. Yelling usually doesn't have the effect of making employees work better, either. Thanks for your comment, Laura!


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