You probably know people who were bullied at school. If I think of what my best friend had to go through at primary school, I feel this unpleasant sensation in my body: disbelieve, anger and guilt. Disbelieve and anger because I just can’t understand why people are doing this to each other. Guilt because there wasn’t something I could do for her at that time, being a little girl myself.
Bullying is the exact opposite of connecting, making the other smaller than yourself. It’s about ignoring, putting down, leaving out, talking about, and humiliating.
Bullying has to do with power and control and happens so much more often than you may expect. And it doesn’t happen at schools only, many people are being bullied at work too. Statistics are showing over 10% of all employees.
Bullying undermines your self-esteem, affects your ability to do your job, and impacts trust and team work. It can also contribute to decreased productivity, high sick leave, low morale and financial costs.
Nowadays most companies are having policies and procedures for preventing workplace bullying. Procedures are a good start, but more is needed.
What you, being a manager or team leader, can do to prevent workplace bullying:
1. Recognize that bullying can happen in any workplace. Thinking there is no way it can happen in your company will blind you from reality. Keep your senses open.
2. Promote a positive workplace culture.
- Make a stand against bullying. Speak out your values and principles and be clear that bullying is not accepted.
- Keep your team involved in times of change. Bullying tends to increase in times of crisis.
- Ensure a collaborative management style. An open and safe work environment is a joint responsibility of all team members; it prevents negative behavior.
- Evaluate the level of internal competition where reward systems focus solely on outputs
3. Take action if you think a member of your team is being bullied. People often feel embarrassed and ashamed. It’s not easy to tell when you’re being bullied. Be sensitive, objective, investigate and come to a final conclusion with consequences if needed.
Let’s respect each other!
What is your experience with workplace bullying and what do you do against it? Leave a comment, I’d love to know.