Quash Workplace Bullying with These Three Steps

Quash Workplace Bullying with These Three Steps - People Development Magazine

Workplace bullying is a global issue

I’ve been pondering Steve Jobs’ legacy. Based on what I know of his career from three books and numerous articles, I’ve come to two conclusions:
  • Jobs was a passionate genius for well-designed tools and for making those tools available to everyone
  • Periodically, Jobs was a complete bully, prone to yelling, name-calling, and put-downs
Jobs’ successes (and misses) are well documented. I wonder just how much more productive and creative Jobs’ staff would have been had he created a positive, healthy workplace that did not tolerate bullying of any kind, by anyone, at any level in the organization.
Recent reports of abusive practices in Amazon’s corporate headquarters are equally depressing.
I am a huge proponent of creating high performance AND values-aligned workplaces. Where there is a safe workplace, activity may be frantic, but people treat each other with respect.
I admire the work of the Workplace Bullying Institute. They conduct research on the impact of workplace bullying and educate others about those issues. Their 2014 US Workplace Bullying Report indicated that that witnesses to workplace bullying have a choice: they can either do nothing, which inspires more bullying in the workplace, or they can raise the issue with key players to ensure the bullying stops quickly.
This recent survey offers sobering evidence of the prevalence of workplace bullying, including:
  • Nearly 25% of respondents report being bullied at some time in their careers. In the US, the number is 36%.
  • In the US, over 49% were either targets of bullying or witnessed it.
  • In 72% of the cases, bullying was done by someone who ranked higher in the organization than the targets.
  • Solo harassers are the source of bullying 1/3 of the time. 2/3 of the time, there are multiple harassers.
  • In the case of solo harassers, 60% of the time there is organizational tolerance of the bullying (lack of response from senior leaders, the harasser’s peers, HR, and even the target’s peers).
  • When bullying was reported, the situation was resolved 31% of the time.
  • When bullying was reported, no action was taken 45% of the time.
Workplace bullying is a global issue. This article shares findings from a 2011 Monster Global Poll where 83% of European respondents reported they had been physically or emotionally bullied. 65% of respondents from the Americas reported experiencing bullying while 55% of Asia respondents reported it.
You will never enjoy an engaging, productive work environment if you tolerate bullying. If you are serious about eliminating bullying,  these steps are required:
  • First, make the conscious choice to create a high performing, values-aligned workplace. Leaders must agree to no longer tolerate bad behavior from anyone (including themselves). Once leaders decide that their company culture needs to be a safe, inspiring place of contribution and creativity, the next steps are easier to put into place.
    NOTE: NOT deciding to create a safe workplace IS A DECISION that enables and tolerates workplace bullying.
  • Second, create clear standards and expectations for both performance and values. Most organizations have performance standards reasonably well-defined. Too few organizations define values and behaviors. Leaders must describe tangible, observable, and measurable expectations for performance AND values, for all players in your organization.
  • Third, hold all staff accountable for both performance and values. You have systems in place to measure performance, progress towards key metrics, etc. You must create systems to equally measure the demonstration of desired valued behaviors. Gather that data. Then praise those that exceed standards for BOTH performance and values and coach and redirect those that miss standards in EITHER performance and values. If, after coaching, folks miss the mark in either, lovingly SET THEM FREE.

Put these three steps into place and enjoy the significant shift to the high performance, values-aligned culture you desire.

What is your experience with workplace bullying? Share your insights in the comments section below.

(repurposed from an October 2011 post on Driving Results Through Culture)
S Chris Edmonds

S Chris Edmonds

S. Chris Edmonds is a speaker, author, and executive consultant. He shares insights on organizational culture, servant leadership, employee engagement, and workplace inspiration. He writes books and articles and records podcasts. In his free time, he's a working musician with the Brian Raine band in Denver, CO.
S Chris Edmonds

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