Trump is doing what workplace experts say a boss should never do

President Trump’s behavior is not just bullying, but bad management. (Evan Vucci/AP Photo)

I was sitting across from a co-worker when he was publicly humiliated by a manager.

The supervisor began yelling as he approached my co-worker’s cubicle. The manager was so loud that those of us sitting nearby stopped our work. The berating was brief, yet I’ve never forgotten the incident.

I lost a lot of respect for that manager.

It is a sign of bad leadership when a supervisor criticizes an employee or his or her work performance in public. I understand why some people would quit their jobs, jeopardizing their personal finances, rather than continue working for a boss who would think nothing of humiliating them in public.

What President Trump is doing to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, calling him out on Twitter for recusing himself from the Russian investigation, is not just bully behavior but bad management.

Trump launches new attacks on Sessions

Trump’s anti-Sessions tweets dismay Alabama’s Republicans

“No reasons, logic, rationalizations, or excuses make it okay to publicly embarrass colleagues or subordinates,” Alan Goldman, a professor of management, wrote in a blog post for Psychology Today. “Leaders take heed, it is quite simple but against the grain: Thou shalt not provoke public loss of face in employees. The price to be paid is typically steep. And the act of publicly demeaning employees is toxic, and it ultimately seeps into organizational culture. It is not fun to be a member of a workplace where disapproval means a public flogging.”

During a White House briefing press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended Trumps public flogging of Sessions saying, “You can be disappointed in someone but still want them to continue to do their job.”

Trump is ratcheting up his abuse of Jeff Sessions. And Sessions has no good options.

But you are failing as a leader when you humiliate employees in public, Dan Bobinski, a management training specialist, wrote in an online posting for

“Whether it’s done behind their back or with the target employee standing right there, publicly humiliating people earns zero respect,” Bobinski said.

In writing for the Harvard Business Review, Sherry Moss, a professor of organizational studies at Wake Forest University’s School of Business, said bully bosses can cause “psychological distress, job dissatisfaction, and emotional exhaustion. It’s also been linked to counter-productive behaviors, from the organizational to the interpersonal. For instance, in organizations where bullying occurs, employees may arrive late, intentionally slow down the work itself, or not follow the boss’s instructions.”

Why Some Bosses Bully Their Best Employees

If you’re feeling the heat like Sessions, you might want to read this: If You’re a Good Employee and Your Boss Still Bullies You, This Could Be Why

And this: 10 Steps for Getting Over Humiliation

Color of Money question of the week
Have you ever had a supervisor who criticized your work performance in public? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. In the subject line put “Bully Boss” in the subject line.

Live chat cancelled
I won’t have a live chat today. But if you missed the discussion last week here’s the transcript. We talked about the Color of Money Book Club pick for this month “The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047” by Lionel Shriver.

Here’s my review of her book: A horror story: What would you do if the U.S. economy collapsed?

This one mistake can cost millennials millions.
The online site NerdWallet looked at 40 years of market returns and interest rates. Using that data they factored in how much a 25-year-old earning $40,456 and saving 15 percent of this income could amass.

Over the four-decade period, an investor could potentially have $4.57 million before adjusting for inflation and fees.

But unfortunately many millennials are afraid of the market, favoring savings accounts.

Last week I asked: Do you wish you had started investing sooner?

Don Lidke of Estero, Fla., wrote, “I agree that missing an early start at investing is a gross error. My problem was I was in the military with at least a 20 year guaranteed salary with medical benefits. No one got through to me to explain what a head start I could have had. I am now 83 and am set for life with my investments. I got here, however late, by tripling down in dollar averaging after the 2008 market crash. But absent the aforementioned early advice, I could have been four or maybe 10 times better off with a much earlier start.”

Lidke mentioned dollar-cost averaging as a way to invest. Here’s what that is: Dollar-Cost Averaging Pays

“My husband and I are in our early-mid-thirties and since getting married nearly five years ago we have worked incredibly hard to become debt free and save up a small chunk as a ‘safety net’ in case something were to happen to our income,” wrote Karilea Cate of South Carolina. “We are now at a point where we’re comfortable with starting to invest but aren’t sure where to start. The stock market makes me nervous. What advice would you give millennials in our situation?”

If you’re just getting started as a new investor spend some time understanding some investing basics. Here’s some reading to get you going.
— Stock Market Basics: What Beginner Investors Should Know

— 3 Essential Rules For New Investors

— Jim Cramer’s 3 tips for investors who are just starting out

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money. Read and share some recent column.

— The debit card nightmare: A number is stolen and charges pile up

— Beware the debit card crooks: With new technology, hacking is easier than ever

Missing Link
Last week, I answered a reader’s question about collecting Social Security. But a link was for missing for an article about a certain strategy to claim a spousal benefit. This is the link that should have been there: Social Security Rules for Restricted Applications.

Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

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