Abusive Behaviors in Low-Morale Experiences

As I’ve continued gathering data about low-morale experiences, the originally reported abuse types have been consistent. The original abuse types are:

  • Emotional abuse
  • Verbal/written abuse
  • System abuse
  • Negligence

(Kendrick 2017).

These abuse types have been consistently reported in subsequent studies (Kendrick & Damasco 2019; Kendrick 2021a; Kendrick 2021b; Kendrick 2023) – and have expanded as I’ve talked with more employees in different library types. When I talked with public librarians (Kendrick 2021a) and talked about how folks decide to leave low-morale organizations (Kendrick 2021b), one more abuse type was reported:

  • Physical abuse

Within the abuse types, several behaviors have also been reported consistently. The following listing does not mean that other behaviors are not also occurring – only that the listed ones are the most reported.

  • Emotional abuse – manipulation, intimidation, thwarting, targeting, or micromanaging;
  • Verbal/written abuse -lying, public shaming, yelling/shouting, ephemeral/unfounded complaining, disinforming, or snitching;
  • System abuse – system rigging, cronyism, steamrolling, or violating human resources or workplace policies and procedures; and
  • Negligence – laissez-faire or ambivalent library or campus leadership/ administration, lack of advocacy, capricious decision-making, or ineffective/slow/non-existent communication.
  • Physical abuse – throwing items, pushing, shoving, tackling, grabbing, blocking.

Have you witnessed or experienced any of these abusive behaviors while at work? What have you witnessed or experienced that is not on this list?  If you’re seeking support while dealing with low-morale or trying to transition from a low-morale workplace, review Renewals Coaching and Career Services.


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