Defeating Abusive Supervision: Training Supervisors to Support Subordinates


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Abstract

Although much is known about the antecedents and consequences of abusive supervision, scant attention has been paid to investigating procedures to reduce its frequency. We conducted a quasiexperiment to examine the effects of supervisor support training on subordinate perceptions of abusive supervision and supervisor support. Supervisors (n = 23) in 4 restaurants were trained in 4 supportive supervision strategies (benevolence, sincerity, fairness, and experiential processing) during 4 2-hr sessions over a period of 2 months. We compared perceived supervisor support and abusive supervision before and 9 months after training for 208 employees whose supervisors received support training and 241 employees in 4 similar control restaurants. Compared to employees in the control restaurants, employees whose supervisors received the support training reported higher levels of perceived supervisor support and less abusive supervision. These findings suggest that a relatively brief training program can help managers become more supportive and less abusive. Theoretical and practical implications for effectively managing abusive supervision are discussed.

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