Queen Bees are women in the workplace that treat colleagues in a demoralising, undermining or bullying manner. Queen Bees will remind you of the mean girls in school, but now they have grown up and are more calculating. Queen Bee Syndrome can be the biggest hindrance to women advancing in the workplace because these women will often lack the sponsorship or support necessary to get promoted due to their negative behaviour. Queen Bees should NOT be confused with a strong, ambitious women in the workplace (which we applaud). No one wants to work for Queen Bees since they usually destroy a happy work environment and can negatively impact colleagues’ careers. However, one can identify and avoid the sting of the Queen Bee. Here’s a list of characteristics that describes the Queen Bee:
Credit vs. Giving Credit:
Claims others ideas as her own and rarely gives credit to team members.
Many dread the moment she walks into the office.
Fails to put you forward for a well-deserved promotion, making sure you
don’t get that interesting project or neglecting to invite you to a
meeting that could help you get noticed in the organisation. Think of The
Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly betrays Stanley
Tucci’s Nigel Kipling.
Support Other Women: May
view other women as competition. Panders to the men in her team and the
women often feel neglected
Always interested in finding out about your personal life, but she rarely
tells you anything that hints at her vulnerability
be openly aggressive to the point of bullying but if challenged she’ll
claim she’s only being assertive, or that your behaviour deserves harsh
and Devious: Her
communication can be both charming and snide at the same time, and she’ll
drag you down with one backhanded remark that will sting for days. Will
talk about you negatively, even to the point of spreading malicious
Removing the Sting of the Queen Bee:
Obviously, not every Queen Bee will display all of the above, but if you have observed and experienced some of these behaviours you may well be working with a Queen Bee. The question is, what can you do about it?
Sign up for training courses that allow you to improve your industry
knowledge and skill set
Join professional networks at your company and within your industry
strong professional relationships with senior decision makers in your
organisation. Why You Need A Sponsor Not A Mentor
Not React When Provoked:
Queen Bees love to push your buttons and get a reaction. Remain calm. Do
not show emotion. Always be polite and do not engage in gossip or petty
talk. Use your energy to develop yourself and expand your network.
Breaking the Cycle of Queen Bee Syndrome:
What if you are reading this and wondering if you are a Queen Bee? Recognising Queen Bee Syndrome is the first step to addressing the problem. Queen Bee Syndrome often stems from personal insecurities that magnify in a work environment or one may be copying bad behaviour learned from previous bosses. Here are some ways to break the cycle of Queen Bee Syndrome:
360-Degree Feedback: Ask
team members who are peers, superiors and junior for anonymous feedback.
The feedback will provide insight about how others perceive your
behaviour. People are more likely to give honest feedback if it can be
provided anonymously to an unbiased 3rd party (e.g. Your boss, Human
a Leadership Training Course:
Attend a leadership course that will help you refine your leadership
skills and address behaviours that can negatively impact your career
a Career Coach: A
career coach can be a great investment to help you address specific areas
requiring improvement and set goals to achieve your career
objectives. A career coach is like getting a personal trainer for your
Genuine Interest in Your Team Members: Take some time to get to know your team and also let them know
more about you. This is a great way to develop strong professional
relationships and form allies. Can you help them with any professional
Make a commitment to help advance other woman in the workplace. Join and
actively participate in female professional networks. There is nothing
more rewarding than to celebrate another woman’s success.