Can Bosses Yell But Employees Can’t?

Question: I raised a tone of voice to the finance manager over the phone. We had a quarterly report which I make in a system and then submit it to her. She said she doesn’t see it and I checked again if it is submitted. It was submitted and I told her that there is nothing else I can do as my part is done, and she should ask IT help to see the submission, and I am leaving. I left the office.

Later she called me yelling at me that I left, and I yelled back at her saying it is not my fault. On the next day, the General manager called me and gave me the last warning for raising a tone of voice to the Finance manager who is above my level.

I said that her tone was the same as mine but the GM said that people above my level have the right to yell at me, but I don’t as I don’t have the qualifications and the position for that. My question is: Is that true, that people with higher positions can yell at employees? The company is international. Thank you in advance! P.S. I’m not the kind of person to yell at people. I just saved my dignity.

Response: Most larger companies have policies and rules requiring all employees, at every level, to treat each other with respect and courtesy. Yelling in anger sometimes happens even between friends, but it certainly doesn’t help communication and it makes everyone feel worse.

Unfortunately, some supervisors and managers habitually show anger and raise their voices over every little irritation, without anything happening to them. But if an employees snaps back, the employee might get in trouble. I don’t think that is fair, I just know it’s a reality.

Your situation sounds different than that. Your Finance Manager raised her voice out of anger over what she perceived as your disrespect to her when you failed to assist her and told her you were leaving. You tread on her dignity just as you think she tread on yours.

I don’t know what your GM was thinking about when he talked to you, but he most likely thought the Finance Manager was trying to get work done, but you were trying to get out of doing the work required to help her.

If that was his thinking, the Finance Manager’s reason for raising her voice would have been considered more justified than yours. If you have done something similar before, it might have added to the reason for warning you about it.

There is probably more to the whole situation than you had time to share with us. Perhaps you have had conflicts with the Finance Manager before. Maybe the quarterly report is a sore point within the organization. It may also be that both you and the Finance Manager had a full day of work, wanted to go home, and were more sensitive to everything than usual.

At this point, the best thing for you to do is to move forward, showing by your words and actions that you are a cooperative member of the organization.

One good thing you could do is to try to figure out what went wrong with the report transmission. You could ask IT if it was a problem with your email. If you really want to be helpful, you could send an email to the Finance Manager and let her know you’re checking on the problem.

You could also develop a method for getting the report to her if there is an email problem in the future.

I hope this situation resolves itself soon. I’m sure it’s causing stress for you–and probably for the Finance Manager and General Manager too.

Best wishes to you. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.