How to with Bullying in the Workplace?
You had a terrific position in a tiny company where many people wanted to work. You received consistent raises, compliments from colleagues and clients, and participated in professional development at night school to better yourself and the company.
You stepped away from it all after a series of episodes with a certain bully. How can you prevent your employees from doing the same, and what can you do if it happens to you?
Who is a victim of bullying?
You are not the only one who has experienced bullying. According to a 2008 Workplace Bullying Institute (WBI) poll, more than 37% of American workers, or 54 million people, had experienced workplace bullying in some way. Women account for 80% of the objectives.
A target is a professional threat to the bully. Bullies target high achievers, exceptional performers, and company superstars. If you ask your top employees, they’ve most likely been bullied in the last year. According to the WBI, they are typically the “go-to seasoned staff to whom new employees look for direction.” Bullies target the brightest and greatest.
This New York Times article lists several signs, including the following:
- Have you ever had someone frequently arrive late for meetings you’ve scheduled?
- Have you been duped?
- Have you been refused a well-deserved raise or promotion for no apparent reason?
- Have you received the “silent treatment” or been barred from performing particular activities and responsibilities?
- Have you ever felt that you’ve received an unusual level of contempt from a specific person?
How Do High-Performance People Handle Bullying?
In my instance, I originally laughed it off and went about my business. The bully in question was a “seagull manager,” meaning he only came into the workplace every several months. I was also not his direct report, thus it had no immediate impact on my career. The key to defusing bullying behavior is to not take the bully seriously, especially if they are unable to harm you professionally. Remember that they are searching for a reaction, and if you do not provide one, they will move on.
If a member of management is bullying you, which is the situation in more than 70% of cases, the strategy must be different. If a member of management to whom you report directly or indirectly is bullying you, make a note of the date and time of each event and keep a record of it for a few months. Bring the information to a workplace litigation attorney. Most will provide you a free consultation and tell you whether or not you have a case. If they tell you that you have a case, be prepared to follow through on a threat to sue if the corporation does not satisfy you.
It may be required to file a lawsuit from the outside. According to the same WBI poll from 2008, only 1.7% of complaints against a bully resulted in a favorable outcome for the reporting employee that secured their safety, while 31% resulted in retaliation by the firm against the target. In 71% of cases, complaining will result in reprisal from the bully.
If you are dealing with a more serious issue involving physical or sexual violence, call the authorities and allow them handle the situation. Even if the bully threatens violence, especially if they do so in front of witnesses, do this. This should result in the bully being fired immediately, and if it does not, you should consider changing jobs.
If you know you’re going to leave employment anyway as a result of the bully’s actions, make sure your employer knows about it during the exit interview process or in a formal complaint. If you are leaving a publicly traded company, carbon-copy your complaint letter to the offices of key corporate officials, including board members. This is the only method to ensure that the higher-ups are aware of your complaint, as such reports are frequently ignored.
Changing Jobs: Problem and Solution
This is yet another method for dealing with bullying conduct. Changing jobs no longer carries the same stigma that it previously did. Employers now nearly expect you to have had three or four jobs before turning up at their door. While looking for a new job, explain to potential employers why you are changing employment and that you do not want to work in the same environment at your new place of business. While you’d think this would backfire, it actually gained me a really wealthy employment in a relatively short period of time.
The prospective employer will value your candor and the fact that you are looking for a non-toxic work environment. Most people are curious about why you left your previous employment, and a definitive explanation that does not entail any of their worst scenarios will be reassuring. This method is most effective since employers in toxic workplaces will perceive you as a potential troublemaker and will most likely refuse to hire you.
If the bully is one of the company’s owners or a really high-level executive, you will need to shift jobs. It is not an option to stay put. A high position in the organization implies that their behavior is automatically safeguarded internally by other stakeholders. Litigation remains an option, but only with witnesses, which might be difficult to come by against a high-ranking company leader. In this scenario, seek the advice of an employment lawyer to determine your options.
Is Litigation the Only Way Out?
This is dependent on the circumstances. You’re undoubtedly well-versed on the company’s financial situation. Do they have the funds to pursue legal action? If not, they will very certainly settle with you swiftly to avoid legal fees, especially if you have a log of events and witnesses. You might not be able to play legal chicken with them if they have huge pockets for litigation. We already stated that if the behavior exceeds the border into illegality, you should inform the police immediately. This will compel the company to take action and provide weight to any legal complaint you may file in the future.
Why Do Businesses Protect Bullies?
While data show that most businesses do nothing to help victims of bullying, the question is why. Companies reward aggressive behavior and promote those that engage in bullying behavior. Human resources is often not there to benefit employees, but to safeguard the employer’s interests. If you report a bullying incident to them, their primary concern is to keep the firm out of court. They’ll try to downplay it and present you as a whiner, hoping to defuse the situation by convincing you that you don’t have a case.
Companies must undergo a fundamental cultural shift in order to comprehend that bullies are harming their bottom line. The easiest approach to do this is to sue when the behavior occurs, but most people don’t have the means to do so. Formal complaints when the behavior occurs or through the leave interview process are the least expensive option, especially if the complaint is CC’ed to high business management. You should also include major financial contributions to the corporation in such a complaint, such as generating an entirely new market for the product. Companies should be made aware that bullying is costing them their top financial performers, but they virtually never are.
What Can I Do to Get Rid of Them?
If you work for a company and have the ability to remove workplace bullies, it is in the best financial interest of the company for you to do so. Bullies may be excellent performers, but they prevent others from succeeding because they do not want to share or lose the spotlight. Employees who do not leave will try to avoid outshining the bully in order to avoid receiving the bullying treatment.
This results in significant profit and possible profit losses. There is no rehabilitation when your human resources department receives a complaint or two about a person who is engaging in bullying behavior. There is only firing for a reason. Despite their numerous claims to the contrary, this individual will not change. They’ll just get worse and retaliate even more against the people who reported them. Bullies will quickly threaten legal action and other retaliatory actions if you fire them, but they will often lack the wherewithal to carry out their threats, especially if you have a well-documented complaint against them. Install an anti-bullying policy in your workplace that makes it clear that any bullying will result in immediate dismissal.
Bullying affects everyone in the workplace, and both employees and employers are better off without it. Aggression no longer equals performance; outcomes now equal performance, and those who give them should not be ignored. A playground mindset has no place in our hyper-competitive economy.
5 Steps to Dealing with Workplace Bullies
Bullies have always existed. The unfortunate reality is that most of us have had a boss, supervisor, or coworker who treated us with disdain, contempt, or worse.
In our workplaces, some of us have been verbally abused and even threatened with physical harm. Perhaps even more tragic is the reality that few of us were willing to complain or report these acts, instead merely remaining silent in the face of attacks because we were terrified or simply wanted to keep our jobs.
As a result, the bullies continued to harass us until we quit or requested another assignment. We don’t have to do that anymore, and many firms are implementing safe workplace policies that include bully-free zones.
However, when faced with workplace bullying, we must all speak up and take action on our own. Here is a five-step method that anyone may apply to deal with bullies at work if you find yourself in a scenario like this.
1. Prepare to Face the Bully
Some people believe that when you reach the end of your rope, you should tie a knot and hold on, and in many circumstances, this is true. When it comes to dealing with bullies, however, simply remaining silent or hoping they will go away does not work – there is nothing left to hold on to.
That is why, as soon as you suspect you are being bullied, you should make plans to confront the perpetrators. The longer you ignore or accept it, the more difficult it will be to persuade them to change.
2. Identify the behavior as bullying
If you believe you are being bullied at work, you most likely are. If you aren’t, you would have already stopped any harassment. But you haven’t since part of bullying is making you terrified to face them.
That is why it is critical to specify the acts, words, or gestures that you believe are bullying. Be as precise as possible. If the person yelled at you, called you names, or threatened you in any manner, recount those actions. Make a list to refer to when speaking with them.
3. Inform them that you believe their behavior is inappropriate
After you’ve defined the behavior, tell the person that you believe they are inappropriate workplace acts or behaviors, and that you believe it is bullying.
It makes no difference whether they agree with you or not. You have the right to have and express your opinions. Do not engage in any discussion regarding the behavior, or any attempts to shift the issue under discussion. You want them to realize clearly that you believe they are bullying others.
4. Inform them that you dislike it
You must make a firm, clear statement that states, “I don’t appreciate that behavior.”
Resist the impulse to water down this message, and make sure they hear it straight from you. This is not a message that can be transmitted over a proxy server.
The bullies must hear from you. And, once again, you should not argue with them about their behavior or their justifications or excuses for doing so.
5. Request that they stop
Near the end of the conversation, you should kindly but firmly ask them to discontinue this conduct. They must understand what you expect of them, and that is to quit.
Threats or anything else are unnecessary at this stage. Either they will understand your message and modify their conduct, or they will not.
If not, at least you have done everything you could as an individual to stop the bullying conduct.
It is difficult to carry out this five-step approach with someone who is aggressive or frightening, but you must do so in order to attempt to change the bullying behavior.
If another incidence occurs, you should immediately register a complaint with your supervisor, union representative, or Human Resources office. Nobody should have to put up with workplace bullies.
Bullying is a problem that goes unnoticed. Bullying tends to fade back into the shadows once the conduct and bullies are named publicly.
Bullying in the workplace only works when victims are frightened to report the bullying or when nothing is done about reports of bullying. Be brave and contribute to making your workplace a bully-free zone.