Does bullying occur at your office? Most managers would like to say “no,” but the Workplace Bullying Institute reports that 35 percent of U.S. workers—an estimated 53.5 million people—have been bullied on the job. While some victims report instances, many stay silent for fear of looking weak or not being taken seriously. Further complicating matters is that workplace bullies may be great at hiding their actions from authority, much like schoolyard bullies who slip under a teacher’s radar.
While physical confrontation may be the method of choice for a junior high nemesis, workplace bullies often yell, intimidate, threaten, humiliate and gossip. They may directly sabotage someone’s work or conveniently forget to include a person on important emails or meetings. Regardless of style, the intention is the same—creating an atmosphere of fear.
As a leader, stopping such behavior is imperative. Bullying zaps morale from the person being taunted and from anyone who witnesses it. Unwanted consequences include high employee turnover,and lawsuits. Ignore bullying and risk your team questioning how much you care and your ability to manage.
So what can managers do when they become aware of bullying? Brad Karsh, president of JB Training Solutions and co-author of Manager 3.0: A Millennial’s Guide to Rewriting the Rules of, offers the following tips
Have zero tolerance
Any instance of bullying is one too many. Investigate the situation immediately.Document everything
During your investigation, compile any related emails, reports, phone call records and complaints. Make sure everything is appropriately documented.
Talk to the person being bullied
Share how you value his or her work and reiterate that your company culture has no room for this sort of behavior. Go over company policies regarding bullying, and discuss the sanctions and preventive actions that will take place.
Educate your team on the explicit policies in place. Explain what constitutes workplace bullying and what they can do when they see it. Through education, create a culture of accountability.