Workplace Bullying / Harassment – A Definition
A “formal” definition of a Bully is: “A blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.” To me, that’s an extreme example. A person can bully without “blustering” and they don’t need a “smaller or weaker” person to try it. Workplace Bullying just speaks to where it’s happening.
If you look at it this way I think it will help. Bullying is really a misuse of power. It can be violent or passive, verbal or physical, overt or covert, and it can harm someone emotionally, physically or both. The stress from the event, or fear of it happening again, can cause emotional and/or health challenges. Gossiping also can be a form of bullying and so can manipulating someone. In all its forms, bullying is when someone is trying to get what they want and are forcing, or trying to force another. Also, consider even in it’s mildest form, bullying is a form of violence and is not to be taken lightly.
Bullying by Managers
Managers may be bullying and not even know it. It shows up in leadership as pushing your agenda. Someone that listens to someone’s ideas and forces their own with out really considering what the other said.
One of the many detriments to manager’s bullying is that morale and productivity decrease dramatically. The manager loses the team, and the staff being bulled, harassed or manipulated will spend more time grousing, gossiping, worrying or complaining.
I’ve come across several people that work “virtually” and have experienced even more bullying. This is a variation on the “Cyber bullying” we’re all used to. One person would get yelled at on the phone by their boss. They were given unrealistic goals to achieve, treated poorly and not respected. The worker’s stress level was very high and they had thought of quitting several times.
Another person worked as a virtual assistant thinking that working from home would bring in income and increased flexibility. They quickly found how easy it was for their clients to be verbally abusive and again to have unrealistic expectations placed on them.
It’s easier for this form of “Cyber bullying” to happen because the manager didn’t have regular “in person” interaction with the staff. This makes it easier for the manager to go into the negative and abusive behavior. Bottom line, it’s the internet “virtual” syndrome. You don’t see the other person so it doesn’t seem as real and it’s easy to misuse and abuse someone. It’s the fact that people find it easier to email someone in a harmful way or post something in cyberspace. They act much differently when they have to see the person.
How to tell if Bullying is going on in your Workplace.
How is the morale in the workplace? Is your productivity where it should be? Does it feel like people are walking on eggshells?
Ask direct questions of your staff to find out what’s going on. Consider a confidential workplace survey. This will help you discover what’s really going. As is so in all conflict, ignoring does not make the problem go away. The elephant in the room only gets bigger.
Helpful Tips if You’re Being Bullied.
Tip 1: Realize the bullying really isn’t about you. It’s about the person that’s misusing their power and how YOU react to it. Don’t take their behavior personally. Take an objective look at the situation and decide what steps to take
Tip 2: Try some stress management techniques. One easy idea is to remember that whatever is going on is only temporary. You will be able to handle it. Get help if you need.
Tip 3: Low self esteem is one of the causes of the bullying, or at the least, why people don’t speak up. Remember who you are, confront any of your fears you have and take a realistic look of what to do next.
Tip 4: Respond, don’t react. One of the reasons the Bullying dynamic happens is to replicate old patterns. It’s your job not to react to it. Remember to think. If you react, you’re not thinking and odds are you’re doing the same thing you’ve done before – and you’re merely expecting a different result.
Signs your Manager is Bullying
When Managers “micro manage” or misuse their power they often do it because they are afraid. They may be afraid they aren’t good enough at managing people, that they won’t meet a quota, milestone or deadline, or they’re afraid of failing.
As an organization ask yourself these questions:
How are your leaders, really? How do they treat their staff? Are they under a lot of stress at work or pressure to succeed? How is their overall mental health? Are they being micro managed? Are you cultivating a culture of trust at your company?
Helpful Tips to Prevent Bullying from your Managers
Tip 1: Promote a culture of trust in your workplace and focus on what you’re trying to create. Remember that 95% of what you’re doing is working, unless you focus on the 5%, then it feels like it isn’t. What you focus on, whether it’s fact or not, gets bigger.
Tip 2: Encourage staff development and training. Help build your managers confidence by providing them with the tools they need to succeed. Their productivity will improve and your company will thank you for it.
Tip 3: Have clear expectations and attainable goals. Have someone you trust review your business’s expectations and goals. If they are unrealistic you’ll create undo stress and strain on your staff and morale. And so you know, your staff knows if they’re realistic even if you don’t.
Tip 4: Don’t run your organization from a place of fear. If you are fearful, if the culture is fearful, more mistakes will happen. From a practical standpoint, your staff won’t be spending time working on tasks, they’ll be spending time dealing with the culture and production will slow. It flat out isn’t effective.
If Bullying is happening at your workplace, and / or you’d like to change the way you or your managers manage, give me a call at 206-650-5364.
I do Compassionate Leadership trainings to help managers learn new skills.
My Seven Steps to Phenomenal Management helps you make changes in the way you lead and/ or make the changes you want in your company.
My Power, Communication and Teamwork training helps your whole team and/ or company change for the better.
My Creating Positive Changes in the Workplace helps create the changes you want at work.
Do call if you’re having trouble. I can help.
Keywords: Gossip Prevention, Bully Prevention, Workplace, Staff Development, Staff Training, Management, Workplace Improvement