Are There Bullies in your Workplace?
Workplace Bullying... The Bullies have Grown Up and the New Playground is the Workplace
Recent news events regarding college hazing got me to thinking about the similarities between these events and workplace bullying. While the topic might be more popular in school systems to protect children from suffering at the hands of schoolyard bullies, there is also a need for greater awareness of the effects of bullies when they grow up and operate in the workplace.
Even though the circumstances may differ from the school playground where bullies typically get their start, workplace bullying can be another type of hazing which can produce similar negative effects on individuals and productivity within the organization or business. Employees at all levels in an organization can experience bullying on a daily basis; from bosses to co-workers.
Accepted and Overlooked
Workplace bullying can often be accepted and overlooked as a form of poor management style. More often, however, it occurs between co-workers in subtle but malicious forms of gossiping, back-stabbing, rumor-spreading, deviousness and work sabotage. As a result, it contributes to absenteeism, high turnover, litigation and major expenses when it is unchallenged.
What can be done to avoid bullying at work?
Training: Provide training for employees on how to manage bullying. Programs such as assertiveness training, communications skills, effective listening, conflict management, stress management, personality assessments and diversity awareness can provide employees with the skills needed to manage bullying behaviors.
Culture Assessment: The leadership of the organization needs to assess the culture of the company. Is unacceptable behavior accepted, either consciously or unconsciously. How do managers treat employees? Do they talk down to people, treat them rudely or yell at them in public? If this is so, then the environment supports these types of behaviors and teaches other workers that it is acceptable.
Identification, Coaching and Retraining: What a company does when there is a problem employee or manager identified is an important part of creating a healthy workplace. The person needs to be informed that their behavior is unacceptable and coaching or counseling needs to be available.
Institution of Supportive Reporting Systems and Programs: An organization needs to have systems and programs in place for preventing workplace bulling and reporting difficult interpersonal problems.
Enforcement of Standards and Policies for Acceptable Behaviors: The manager needs to set limits about acceptable behaviors at work, enforce standards and policies and deal with difficult employees early on, in a positive way so that negative feelings do not fester.
R-E-S-P-E-C-T... Find out what it means to me! (It's more than just a song): Because people get so much of their identity and self-esteem from their jobs, the importance of respect in the workplace cannot be emphasized enough. Practicing respect in the workplace and eliminating bullying changes a whole company. Production and efficiency goes up, morale improves and profits soar. What could be better than that?