If you were lucky you didn’t have to worry much about being bullied in school. If you weren’t so lucky, then you remember the effects. The exact same human dynamics can apply in the workplace. The tactics and their effects are not as obvious, but they are very real. Workplace bullying is often the first step in a developing workplace violence issue. One that can lead to lost employees and productivity, law suits and overt violence.
Some people are taught throughout their upbringing to stand up to bullies. This will lead to confrontation eventually and if the repressed tension has built up enough over time the ‘standing up’ will probably be violent. Nobody wins. People are hurt or terminated; sometimes the wrong people are terminated. The workplace becomes an unpleasant place to be. People leave. This all costs money, time, company reputation, and possibly clients. What if the bully is your supervisor? If aggressive tactics are tolerated as supervisory motivators, they will become the dominant form of leadership. This is an absolute path towards organizational failure. Fear has a rare place in supervision. Holding people accountable can be done in a very civil and subtle manner. There is often a blurred line between accountability and being pressured by a bully who is trying to ‘motivate’. The effects will often be: lower energy levels, no employee initiative, manipulative behavior among employees to avoid the bully, health problems, and there are many others. Does this sound like an environment in which people will work extra hard to get things accomplished? One which will inspire good teamwork?
How can bullies exist in the workplace for so long without being dealt with? Bullying and inappropriate aggression will continue if they are ignored. Ignoring is another form of tolerance. Tolerance is another form of acceptance. This perceived acceptance is why bullying can exist undetected for so long. Bullies can sometimes even be promoted just to get rid of them. Workplace violence prevention programs must address this developmental stage phenomenon. These are questions that plague many workplaces and effect otherwise productive happy workers. Don’t be a victim. Learn more about how to protect your workers from being bullied. Check out the “Workplace Bullying: Identification and Response” course on the IMAC online training site www.imac-training.com