Monday, April 16, 2012

Workplace Bullying

Question (from EA to Chief of Police in a state in the US)

Isn't bullying something of the past? Is bullying just a social problem between kids in all levels of school? Have you, or someone you know, experienced bullying in the workplace? Thoughts?!

My response:
I've been bullied in the workplace, for sure, however, I have a different take on the whole issue of bullying now. The thing is, a person feels as if they are being bullied if they are being treated in a way that is counter to their needs in that particular situation or relationship. So, if my core needs in my workplace are for connection (Maslow's Hierarchy - Love and Belonging) and/or Respect (Maslow's - Esteem), and both or either of those are challenged, I feel 'bullied'. Interestingly, We find that two people who are seeing the same need to be met from each other, especially the Esteem/Respect need, clash big time!

So, in order to understand and treat bullying, in the workplace or anywhere, is to understand what is motivating both the behaviour and the response. This goes to the model for trust that I teach - you can download my free e-book 'The Simple Truth about Trust' that, with an easy read and pictures, you will understand what I mean.

If I expect to be spoken to nicely, to be listened to and valued for my opinions, for example, which are indicators that my need for respect is being met, and I work for someone who yells at me, ignores my ideas, and never makes time for me, then yes, I could feel 'bullied'. The issue is, the person I work for is also wanting to be respected, so he may feel he is in control and doesn't need someone 'below' him telling him how to do his job, or that someone else has an idea that is better than his. So he, at the same time as the other is wanting to be heard, is also feeling disrespected. Hence the clash.

1 comment:

  1. Targets, victims and witnesses of bullying have a few avenues to pursue (as compared with victims of sexual harassment) when subject to repeated and obvious acts of aggression, spreading malicious rumours, excluding someone socially or from certain projects, undermining or impeding a person’s work or opinions, insulting a person’s habits, attitudes, or private life and intruding upon a person’s privacy. Others include being rude or belligerent, destroying property, assaulting an individual, or setting impossible deadlines. Although bullying is recognized as detrimental to occupational health, there is little political or corporate interest in stopping it.

    In schoolyard bullying, the bullies are children, whose behaviour is controlled by the leaders, i.e. the school administration. In workplace bullying, however, the bullies are often the leaders themselves, i.e., the managers and supervisors. Therefore, reporting a bully to the HR dept, for example, may expose the target/victim to the risk of even more bullying, slower career advancement, or even termination, on the grounds of being a “troublemaker!”.

    Workplace bullying has severe consequences, including reduced effectiveness and high employee turnover. An employee who suffers any physical or psychiatric injury as a result of workplace bullying can confront the bully, report the bully to the HR department or to the trade union, if any, or bring a claim of negligence and/or a personal injury claim against both the employer and the abusive employee as joint respondents in the claim. If the law does not persuade employers to deal with workplace bullying, the economic reality will persuade them. Training sessions can help when combined with a confidential reporting structure, but it is difficult to alter the basic nature of some individuals, who may need counselling.

    Maxwell Pinto, Business Author