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How Can Social Media Content Help Combat Bullies at Work?

August 26th, 2015 Comments off

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. What if the bully is a 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 only a small place in supervision. Holding people accountable can be done in a very civil and subtle manner. There is often a blurred line between being held accountable and being pressured by a bully who says they are trying to motivate. The effects will often be: lower energy levels, no employee initiative, and manipulative behavior among employees to avoid the bully, health problems, and many others.

How can bully supervisors 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. Either fear of harm or reprisal. 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, if allowed to exist for too long, will lead to a physical incident eventually.

There is another tool to help monitor/control this behavior. For example, a client requested to have a supervisor monitored, due to one brave employee’s concern regarding the supervisor’s aggressive and verbally abusive behavior. As a precaution, they wanted to monitor the supervisor’s open source social media “footprint”. They contracted a firm to monitor his various social media feeds for content using a number of keywords. The supervisor had posted statements that were somewhat troubling and suggested that he may act out in the future even more aggressively. Furthermore, factors outside the workplace were adding to the situation. Social media data was harvested, collected and stored for analysis.

Unfortunately, the performance improvement plan that the company put the supervisor on did not produce the desired results and the company decided to terminate the individual.  The company was confident with their decision, as they were armed with the individual’s potentially dangerous social media posts, adding to the lack of behavior improvement. Security measures were put in place to mitigate any termination risk. The event took place with a heated verbal outburst, however no physical violence occurred. The company opted to continue social media surveillance for an additional 30 days following the termination. The individual posted a number of statements expressing his displeasure, but none of them were deemed as threatening. After a few days, the individual’s posts returned to normal and the surveillance was discontinued.

Learn more about how to protect your workers from being bullied. Check out the “Workplace Bullying: Identification and Response” course on the AFIMAC online training site www.imac-training.com. Also, go to www.AFIMACSMI.com to see how to order social media investigative assistance discretely online.

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