Time For Administrative Professionals To Stay Vigilant!

What if you had Donald Trump as a boss?

Even if you are a Trump supporter, you cannot deny that our new President ran his entire campaign exhibiting Class A, typecast bully behavior.

This may lead one to ask: Is this the new paradigm of acceptable behavior in the workplace today?

From his constant barrage of insults and attacks on his opponents (and anyone else in his wake) on through his disrespectful and unapologetic attitude (both alleged and documented) toward women and minorities, Trump ran true to form to a bully personification. The message was clear: If you don’t agree with me – you’re not only wrong, you’re history!

Even though one could claim this was “campaign mode” based on his Celebrity Apprentice playbook, he was still applying for top employer in the free world. Do bosses now have a new role model?

In a word, NO! We have made great strides in combatting harassing behavior in the working environment. Today, if an employee (at any level of responsibility) exhibited such disrespectful conduct, the gears would be set in motion for that individual to be corrected, disciplined and maybe even fired. And, if it was a CEO who owned the business, the situation still could escalate into a hostile and costly environment.

Employees can take heart. We have safeguards in place today and they will not be revoked (not even by an executive order). We have an established anti-harassment law with teeth in it, specific policies and guidelines in place, along with ongoing awareness training and, most importantly, swift consequences for poor behavior. Corporate America has embraced the harassment-free workplace and is not reversing its position.

One of the reasons Corporate America is taking the respectful working environment seriously is the high cost of harassment of any kind. Unchecked, the effects are: increased stress, lower self-esteem and poor productivity among the abused, which in turn damage any organization’s effectiveness, stability and profitability. The costs rise incrementally when victims fight back because the employer allowed the situation to exist or persist.

Harassing behaviors tend to be combinations of the following: sexual harassment verbal harassment, physical harassment and emotional harassment (the latter often referred to as “bullying below the radar”). Some behaviors can be argued as legally actionable and some cannot. However, harassment of any kind is illegal if it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. Then, you may quickly go down the rabbit hole of legal action.

Regardless, if any such behavior dominates an environment, fresh ideas are eliminated and employees are reduced to “yes people” who keep their heads down and their mouths shut. This may work in the short run – but not the long run (think Wells Fargo).

If bullying behavior is tolerated, the company is damaged from the inside out by chewing up its people. Add to that, if employees have not already headed for the exits, there is what I call the “I quit but I forgot to tell you” syndrome: employees show up for work physically but check out mentally and emotionally – further draining a company’s progress.

It’s a fact of business life that employees will never have the same power that their bosses have. But, this does not mean they don’t have any power.

No professional can operate with blinders on. If you encounter or witness bully behavior you have a responsibility to follow your company’s procedures regarding a harassment complaint.

What you do not get to do is look the other way and/or (even worse) suffer your own circumstances in silence, remember the frightening words of the German philosopher Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, “You become what you tolerate!”

Unfortunately, there will always be huffing and puffing bosses and, also, ethically impaired peers who actually believe their browbeating intimidation tactics achieve legitimate business objectives. But, organizations today are working hard to keep their employees safe and avoid the costly “hostile working environment.”

This does not mean, however, that we should not remain focused and vigilant in our efforts to maintain such an ethical environment. Organizations today are ramping up their ethics training (both on-line and in-house), establishing Ethics Departments and/or Ethics Point Persons and proactively emphasizing their Codes of Ethics/Conduct, Mission Statements and policies – benefiting us all. Most importantly, they are recognizing employees need (and deserve) a blueprint on how they are expected to behave at their particular workplace.

How President Trump treats his own employees is an unknown to us, and how he will choose to govern as our president will unfold in the time ahead. Hopefully, he does not parody his campaign bully behavior. But, what IS known is – he does NOT get to redefine and redesign what is and what is not considered acceptable behavior in the workplace today.

This is my challenge to all admin professionals for 2017 Admin Professionals Week: Now is the time to dial up your professional selves. We all have a responsibility to maintain an ethical and harassment-free working environment –which we can only achieve by respecting those around us – at any level of responsibility.

This is not the “politically correct” thing to do. It’s just the right thing to do.

Nan_DeMarsAbout the author: Nan DeMars CAP is an internationally-recognized speaker, trainer and author on the topic of Workplace Ethics. Her latest book is: You’ve GOT To Be Kidding! How to Keep Your Job and Your Integrity! (John Wiley Publishing). Contact Nan at 952-835-1148 or

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41 thoughts on “Time For Administrative Professionals To Stay Vigilant!”

  1. I agree with some of the other posters. I’ve been enjoying all the Office Dynamics blog posts so far, not just during the month of April, but I admit I was disappointed in seeing politics brought into this blog and almost decided not to keep reading. I appreciate the sentiment of what is trying to be said, but please try to keep politics out of the blog. We hear – and have been hearing – a lot of it daily. I don’t want to see it in my work-related blog. Thank you.

  2. I left a company that was questionable in their treatment of employees and ethics with customers. It was expected to walk a fine line between half truths and out right lies. That was not what I expect of an employer and their expectations of me. What surprises me is many years later, they are still in business.

  3. Great article. I see this take place on a daily basis and the bully is the person who says they are trying to make things better in the office. Thankfully there is a new director who is helping make some positive changes.

  4. A workplace is made up of all the people in it. Each person has a responsibility to be respectful to the others. And to stand against people who don’t.

  5. Nan Demars’ post reflects her opinions and her fear that having a prominent figure display “typecast bully behavior” will damage efforts to eliminate such behavior in the workplace. Her post seeks to remind us that as admins we are in a key position to prevent abuse in the workplace. I want to convey how impressed I am with the replies to this post thus far. Politics is a part of our daily lives and as employees a vital component of the decisions made at our companies (The healthcare discussion alone is heating up the board room and water cooler!). As Americans, through our Constitution, we profess to respect that we have opinions that may differ from each other and have a commitment to allow other views to be expressed. How well we do this is up to us individually. How we behave is a matter of the condition of our hearts. Thank you to all who are helping to keep discussion spaces like this blog a safe space to voice these opinions respectfully by focusing on the root of the topic and not the colorful, often distracting examples sometimes used to get a rise out of the reader.

  6. I confess I’m struggling with this particular post, given that it can be construed as fairly political, and I’m not used to that for Office Dynamics. However, Nan’s point about not accepting a workplace culture of bullying from anyone — be they supervisors, peers or anyone else — is always important to keep in mind. Respect is a value that never goes out of style.

  7. While the example may be controversial, the message is quite relevant in today’s work place regardless of where you work.

  8. I’m all for freedom of speech, so here are my two cents. I am very disappointed that we had to bring politics into this forum. 🙁

  9. I understand the concept of the article, however, I do not agree politics of any sort should be brought into this forum.

    Thank you for all the wonderful things you do!

    1. If you understand the concept, then you should have not problem with the article no matter what was used to bring the point across. It sickens me that people only want to hear what makes them comfortable. The truth is what was shared and that’s what we should take away from the article. If we can no longer speak our minds in a way that makes us comfortable in making our point of view heard, then we are not being vigilant in maintaining our values.

  10. Pretty bold article and as I was reading it I knew it would cause many comments both positive and negative. I applaud you for starting the conversation. For those of you who asked why another example wasn’t used instead of the President of the United States, I think it is a simple answer in that everyone knows him and his persona. Agreed, we don’t know what it is like to work for him. I have seen bullies in the workplace that treat their assistants very well as they know they need someone that always has their back.

    I also agree with Rhonda who said no amount of money would make her stay with a bully. I have always said I couldn’t work for someone I didn’t respect. And, respect goes both ways – they need to respect me too.

  11. A lot of great things have been said so far. What I like to remind myself of is that I can only control one person – me. I can try to influence others with my actions, but I also get to determine how others treat me. It is hard and very scary to start setting boundaries with others, but the reward is worth it. Unfortunately, not everyone will be respectful, but those who do will make the workplace that much of a better place. It seems that the bullies are the minority in workplaces, they are just “loud” enough and make enough of a fuss to get all the attention. I do agree with others that the overall sense is people want to be respectful in the workplace.

  12. What an important topic, for which we need to remain ever vigilant! I am hopeful that most, if not all job places, will put in place an expectation outline for its employee conduct, based on ethics and providing a safe work environment for all. Thank you for your thoughtful blog; I very much appreciate its timeliness and relevance.

  13. I enjoyed the article from Nan DeMars. I remember her from many years ago speaking with the PSI organization & read her book then as well!

  14. I have political burnout so you lost me at Trump. Why must everything be politicized nowadays? Wishing a non-political example would have been used instead.

    1. I agree with you Barbara. As soon as Donald Trump’s name was mentioned in the first line, I sighed and thought, ‘Really?’ I’m all for freedom of speech, but we’ve had enough politics in recent months to last for years. I really don’t want to read about politics in my daily blog. Sigh.

  15. This mentality been going on for years. Trump has just showed us out in the open what some of us Assistants and Secretaries have been going through. Now that the bully has shown his face…we MUST not stand by and let the bully treat us any kind of way.

  16. This is a good reminder. I appreciate the efforts of the organization I work for at educating employees and providing them safe ways to report violations.

  17. You are so right-on with this article; even though companies have these policies in place, some in the upper executive management team still get away with belittling anyone below them in effort to get what they want. You can scream or cuss people out on every conference call and not have it affect those on the receiving end. We’ve come a long way but still have ways to go where everyone feels and gets treated fairly and equally!

  18. I believe that this is not the place for a political standing. I am ashamed of Office Dynamics for allowing this type of article on their website. I do not condone President Trump’s behavior at certain times, but he is the PRESIDENT of the United States. I have more respect for President Trump than I ever did for President Obama. What did Obama do for us in 8 years?

    1. He did far more than you or people like you want to give him credit for. It’s because of hatred for a black man being able to take leadership of the country that you speak as you do. How can you respect a man who openly demonstrated his total disrespect for not only women, and people of color from other Nations and Countries but also for anyone who would challenge him up to and including you if given the opportunity to face him and say, as you said in the article, that you do not condone his behavior. So far what has Mr. Trump done but cause the spread hatred and promote vigilance against law abiding citizens if they are different and don’t agree to his philosophy.

  19. I agree that President Trump probably wouldn’t be the greatest to work for; however, I don’t believe this blog post really needed to disparage the President to make the post’s point. There are millions of examples of bad bosses out there. There’s no need to make this political and divisive when we’re uniting over a common problem experienced by admins everywhere.

  20. Bullying is unacceptable in the workplace but you do have to pick your battles wisely. IF you follow procedures and report harassment you may never have a chance to change departments and work for a new boss for the same company. You may be pegged as a trouble maker. It would be better to look to change departments and be allowed to work for the same company and a better boss and still have a clean record as an example employee.

  21. The image you portray of President Trump is not factual. He is not a bully or any of the awful things that you talk about. Have you personally worked for him or are you basing your opinions on what you read? I don’t understand why you put him down to make a point about bosses. If you are going to talk about a President’s behavior. How about Bill Clinton and everything he has done to harm women? Would you have commented on that?

  22. Michael James Miller

    President Trump is the ultimate example of how a “boss” should not behave. I am happy this article stressed that Trump’s behavior should not be accepted or tolerated. We administrative assistants must fight against allowing bad behavior by any of our fellow employees, not just bosses.

  23. I still see bullying in the workplace. It depends on who complains whether or not it will be dealt with.

    I think political views should be kept out of these blogs. We, as admins, need to stick together and when you make comments like in this article, it can drive us apart.

    1. I totally agree that political viewpoints should not be part of this. Unless you have worked for someone, you can’t say what kind of boss he/she is. Sometimes personality differences can be misconstrued.

    2. I completely agree! We get enough of office politics every day. I don’t need to deal with actual politics here, too.

  24. When someone feels unvalued as an employee, I personally feel that work productivity suffers. If I feel valued, I certainly work harder to continue to excel. If you are constantly belittled, there is a lot of resentment, hard feelings, a feeling of worthlessness. Why would you want to try, if you “can’t do anything right”.

    Positive praise goes a long way.

  25. Rhonda M. Strong

    I agree 100%, Nan. I recently had to report a bully as a boss, and I encourage others to do so as well. That treatment is not acceptable in the workplace or elsewhere!

  26. If Trump was my boss I would quit. If he offered me a lot of money to stay, I still would quit. The money doesn’t matter to me; I want to be treated with respect and kindness. I want to feel happy going to work without any anxieties.

    I don’t think bosses will start acting like Trump. People respect work policies of equal treatment.

  27. Even if you work for a boss or company whose behavior is less than desirable, you can still learn from it and grow. I’ve had plenty of bosses who were downright nasty, and have worked for companies with questionable ethic. What I took away from each was how NOT to be like that: how not to behave or treat your employees. And moving forward, I strive to be a better employee, supervisor, manager because of that learning.

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