Are you imitating Lily Tomlin or Dabney Coleman?

In the movie 9 to 5 with Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and the protagonist Dabney Coleman who portrayed a stereotypical   bad boss. Selfish, narcissistic, lying, manipulative, conniving and building his reputation on the backs of his employees.

If you don’t remember it, the ladies came up with a resolution to his behavior in a workplace violence (WPV) way, albeit hilarious and comedic. They kidnapped, assaulted, held prisoner, and imitated Dabney Coleman to make the workplace better for everyone.

So, why should I bring up this particular movie? Besides the fact I’m lost in the past, it is to make a point about bad bosses, no matter what title they wear. Far too many of them, still, believe that they have impunity in supervising or treating their employees worse than they do anyone else or their favored ones, authoritarian style of management reminiscent of the 80s and back. A couple of  examples from ladies I know:


A supervising nurse tells one of her favored ones that another nurse, a veteran of 40 years, needed some ‘reeducation’ because ‘just couldn’t get things right anymore’. When informed it was one of the favored ones who messed up… the incident was quickly forgotten.

When the veteran nurse was called into the Unit Manager’s office for a disciplinary issue, the supervising nurse went along. She knew that the veteran was not at fault, and had told her in front of several others earlier, that it wasn’t. However in the meeting when it came time to defend her subordinate… she said nothing, when it appeared she would be terminated.

Billing Clerk:

The new supervisor caused the production of 2/3 of her employees to fall by assigning the one who came on shift early to grab most of the work. It therefore made it look like the first employee was over worked and the others not sluffing off. This caused significant stress to the latter in both work and personal lives…and financial when they were terminated for it.

Because she was a computer ‘nerd’, the old supervisor asked her to help the others with new programs, macros, and such issues. Later she found out the new supervisor wasn’t giving her time off her own work to do it, she kept her on production time. The person she was helping got down time (not counted against her work time), and she wasn’t.  She was helping the rest of the crew she was going to keep working while sacrificing my friend’s production time, which was a disciplinary issue. She was eventually terminated.

In the WPV warning signs & attitudes I talk about personal and work life stress. It doesn’t matter how decent of a person they are or how well they have held up in the past. Unless circumstances change then they can, and usually will, break. Whether that is in a psychotic episode or something else, who knows until it actually occurs.

The employer is at great risk of a lawsuit if the employee pops their proverbial cork and injures or kills someone. So it is in the best interest of the employer to pay attention to any indication that the employee is being bullied, harassed, threatened, or intimidated by their manager that is initiating this bad behavior.

Movies, as you can see from 9 to 5, books, television, and old time radio serials represented bad managers as bumbling buffoons who were always thwarted by the targeted employee. Rarely does that happen in the real world. Usually, it is the employee who pays the price when they are terminated by a corrupt and self-serving superior, unless it is turned on them with a weapon.

The attitudes of companies that encourage WPV are replete with those reasons as well;

Not Invented Here

Playing favorites

Communications not being efficient or effective

Unequal Enforcement of Policies

Disparate Treatment

Authoritarian Style of Managing, employees refusing to bend to their will & offer obeisance



Keep in mind that in some cases the unprofessional behavior is not perceived and is real to everyone. It is also just as likely that other employees, especially those who receive preferential treatment don’t even seem to notice or intervene… they wish to continue receiving the perks that come with, for lack of a better term, sucking up.

The overall issue is training supervisors and managers to know when they are acting in this way. The longer they have been in charge the more resistant they will be to changing their ways, like communists who don’t know when to give up power until they are violently ousted.

If they refuse to change and follow the new way of supervising people, firm but fair (which is very easily accomplished), then an ultimatum needs to be given. Much like the one I discussed that I did with a large security account back in the day. Very harsh, but it worked.

Next is training the employees to inform someone in authority what is going on with the Dabney Coleman in the organization. If employees don’t speak up then no one will ever know until, potentially, one comes back with a firearm and resolves the issue their way.

As you undoubtedly know, if someone would have said something about someone to someone then any number of WPV, school violence, domestic violence, terroristic incidents, and war may not have occurred. After the incident it comes down to the denials, “I didn’t think they could do that!” or “I didn’t think it could actually happen here (or to them).”

The sad reality of WPV is that it is all too often true what happened to the people above, whether we want to believe that or not in our society and enlightened world. Managers and companies are sometimes stuck in the 40s when it comes to their style of management and employees…well it is unfortunately sometimes, me first and only me. or Twitter: @robertsollars2

                                       I May be Blind but my Vision is Crystal Clear

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