Bullying in the workplace is, unfortunately, very common. How can we put a stop to this issue once and for all?
You would think, as adults, that bullying is something we wouldn’t have to deal with anymore. With all the awareness being raised about the issue on the playgrounds, it’s time to recognize the role it plays elsewhere in life. As you reach working years, you tend to assume that this is an issue that you left behind as you grew up and matured. But maybe one of your co-workers intimidates you while trying to work on a project together or a manager is using their power in the office to make your life miserable. All of this is a big contributor to low employee satisfaction.
The problem is that most of us don’t talk about it. It’s almost embarrassing to admit that you’re being bullied at work. So how can you, as a manager, put a stop to an issue that most people don’t even want to talk about? CMI (Chartered Management Institute) published an article that goes in depth about how to get a handle on workplace bullying with some truly helpful tips.
“Design out” bullying
Basically, make bullying impossible. Lead by example that you take a “no bullying” stance. You can do this by providing an open and understanding workplace without coming down hard on employees. Publicly commend workers who are team players and work well with others.
Make staff aware
Some bullies may not even realize they’re being a bully. Opinions can vary on the topic. Make it very clear where your company stands on the issue.
Before reading the riot act…
Once your company has defined what bullying is and the repercussions, take time to personally try to resolved conflicts. CMI Stated:
“According to Acas guidance on the subject, before invoking an official bullying policy, managers should first attempt to resolve any problems informally with the concerned parties through discussion and mediation.”
Protect yourself with policy
Companies need to ensure that they have an official policy on workplace bullying. CMI provided a list of what your policy should include:
Examples of unacceptable behaviors
A statement from senior management making bullying a disciplinary offence
Guidance for victims on bringing forward a complaint
Guidance for managers having to deal with the complaint
A summary of formal and informal procedures
Respect the bully
Get all the facts before you act. Keep in mind that the bully is still an employee and a person. Get both sides of the story before you enforce your official procedures. Make the bully aware that these policies have been in place and that there will be action taken.
Stick to your guns
This is where there can be problems. Following through on the issue by management is really important but it can also be super awkward. Sometimes, they will end up downplaying the incident to try and make it just go away. But by doing that, you are sending a message that bullying is okay and the victim will feel blown off and completely left hanging out to dry. Not only that, but it can turn into a legal issue and be a liability for the company.
What is bullying?
There are many different ways to define bullying. CMI and Acas have provided their own definitions that you can use in your workplace:
CMI guidance defines workplace bullying as: “Offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting behaviour, or abuse or misuse of power, which violates the dignity of, or creates a hostile environment that undermines, humiliates, denigrates or injures, the recipient.”
Acas guidance defines workplace bullying as: “It can include the spreading of rumours, public ridiculing, overbearing supervision or sexual advances.”