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Bullying and Its Effects in the Workplace

April 20th, 2015 Comments off

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 same human dynamics can apply in the workplace with adults. The tactics and their effects are sometimes not as obvious, but they are very real. Workplace bullying is often the first step in a developing workplace violence issue. One that can result in lost employees, lost productivity, law suits, and can lead to overt violence if left unchecked.

Why do women handle being victimized by a workplace bully differently than men? Men are taught throughout their upbringing to stand up to bullies. This will lead to confrontation eventually and if the tension has built up enough over time, ‘standing up’ may result in violence. Nobody wins. People are hurt or terminated; and 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 management. 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 says they are 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? Will it inspire good teamwork? Obviously no, but how can bullies exist in some workplaces for so long without being dealt with? Bullying and inappropriate aggression will continue if they are ignored. Fear is usually what causes this tendency to ignore or deny the behavior. The bully’s tactics are effective in that regard. It is easier to avoid the problem than to address it. However, ignoring is another form of tolerance. Tolerance is another form of acceptance. This perceived acceptance is why bullying can exist undeterred for too long. Bullies are transferred and can sometimes even be promoted just to get rid of them. This only reinforces the bully’s confidence in his tactics. Workplace violence prevention programs must address this developmental stage and that is truly what it is. It will lead to an incident! These are questions that plague many workplaces and effect otherwise productive happy workers. Don’t be a victim. Don’t allow such a toxic environment.

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

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