Skip to main content

Workplace Bullying

Bullying remains a very emotive issue.  I have a few friends who openly admit that they were bullies at school, and that they didn't mean any real harm, and were "just teasing".   Comments that people overreact, and that the victims often bring it on themselves are also made.   It is a reality that the bullied person's reaction can lead to further bullying, or their lack of reaction can move the bullies to a new target.   These former self styled bullies have grown up into nice people who are really fun to be with.   Who would have thought?

But the people I know who were bullied have not grown up nearly as undamaged.  In fact, it is my unscientific opinion, that bullies grow up to be happier and more successful than the bullied, because their sense of self is more entitled.  (Other than in the entertainment industry, where almost all of them claim that they were misfits and excluded from everything.....)

Moving from the classroom to the boardroom, what is bullying at work?

There are so many different, and subtle, ways of making people feel less than valued, that sometimes the bullied person simply feels more and more inadequate at the job, without realising that they are, in fact, being bullied.

How regularly do we hear "Everything I do is wrong!"  and it seems to be true.   There is often the perception that the bullies are senior people with power, or men who sexually harass women, another type of bullying.  

But there is the other side, too.   There are employees who use passive/aggressive behaviour, constantly making small mistakes or not checking their work, so that their line manager never feels safe using their input without double and triple checking etc.   This can impact on the relationship, making the line manager less patient, and it becomes a negative circle, where the employee feels undervalued, blames the manager for making him nervous, the manager becomes harsher in his criticism, and so it goes on.  Is there a bully in this pairing, or are they simply incompatible work partners?

Power shifts happen in relationships, and sometimes it is the person in the less formally influential or powerful role who is the bully.

The wonderful (in my opinion) Ellen de Generes finishes each show with the words "Be kind to one another" and bullying is very much the opposite of that.  During the next few weeks, I will try to unpack what is bullying, what it isn't and how do we introduce more kindness into the workplace, without sacrificing productivity, growth and effective business practice.


References & Links

Popular posts from this blog

Thinking of leaving - should you discuss it with your manager?

The exit interview is not the time to tell your manager that you would have stayed if.....   When you are serious about your career, and really enjoy your job, except for one key component, take the time to talk before you resign.

While sometimes the grass is greener, more often than not you just inherit new issues at a new company.

It is a difficult labour market in South Africa right now, there is a skills shortage, and yet there are millions of people without jobs.   Working for a stable company, with people you like, and a job you enjoy is important, and yet there are often those frustrations that give you itchy feet.

In your current position, your manager might really want to keep you, and be very interested in finding out what would make you a happier, more productive, employee.   It is also sometimes much easier to have that conversation with somebody you already know, than have it in your first weeks in a new position.

When you know you have choices, as well as know that you …

Agile workers & workspaces - a new way of working..

Being an agile worker is still a work in progress…
Is flexibility now a reality in the workplace?And is it really working? We keep renaming it – remote, activity based and agile work being some of the current terms. The assumption of control over one’s own time and deliverables does look like a great way to work and live, and it seems to be is a high priority for those entering the business world. There is also the development of the agile work space, where people come to the office each day, but don’t have a fixed work area.We used to call it hot desking back in the day and it met with mixed success.Today, office designers have started to create work spaces which are intended to encourage innovative thought, cross departmental collaboration and improved productivity. My research indicates that the mix of engaged and disengaged employees in an open plan workspace does not always have the desired effect of the positive workers influencing the culture.In fact, a case study of a senior execut…

The Gig Economy - HR and other issues

The Gig Economy has emerged as a topic of discussion and I understand that Intuit has posited that 40% of US workers will be independent contractors by 2020.  That is 3 years away! What is a gig employee?  Uber, Lyft, and Airbnb all utilize gig employees as the delivery mechanism for their apps.   While they are all clear that they are just an App and don’t employ the gig employees, governments and employer bodies are analyzing the risks and reports are indicating that they are significant. As a contract worker, which is how Uber defines their drivers, there is not an employer/employee contract in place.    While Uber, and other similar companies, create the mechanism for people to deliver a service, they consider themselves brokers, for want of a better word, and not employers. The UK is looking into the situation and considering legal structures .  The concerns are particularly when people have a single source of income, although they are not formally employed.  This leaves them in a …