How do I Stop my Staff Member from Being a Bully?
Identify if Bullying Occurs in Your Workplace
What is Bullying?
Bullying can be defined as ongoing intimidation and threats designed to demean the other person and build themselves up in the process. A Bully will often single out someone and make that person's life miserable with the goal of forcing the target out of the workplace, and usually they succeed.
Gary Namie, PhD, co-founder and president of the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, conducted an online survey of 1,000 people who claimed to have been bullied at work, finding that 37% were eventually fired, and 33% quit their jobs.
How do I Recognise a Bully?
Bullies over-control, micromanage, and display contempt for others, usually by repeated verbal abuse and sheer exploitation. They constantly put others down with snide remarks or harsh, repetitive, and unfair criticism. They don't just differ with others, they differ with specific people contemptuously; they question their adequacy and their commitment. They humiliate the 'victim' in front of others.
The top ten bullying behaviours in the workplace catalogued by the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute are:
- Yelling and screaming
- Blaming the 'victim' for "errors"
- Making unreasonable performance or job demands
- Criticism of the 'victims' abilities
- Applying rules inconsistency
- Threatening loss of opportunity
- Insults and putting-down
- Discounting or denying accomplishments
- Excluding or ostracizing the target
- Stealing credit from others
Why Do I need to Stop the Bully
Bullies do a lot of damage in organisations, they:
- Increase turnover costs - downtime (lost efficiency); recruitment; hiring bonuses; time to proficiency of replacement (reduced efficiency)
- Increase litigation costs - lawyers fees; settlement costs; compensation awards; appeal costs
- Increase accidents as staff are more fatigued (from sleep loss from bullying-induced stress and anxiety)
- Encourage talent flight - the best and brightest leave as they seek non-hostile workplaces
- Reduce innovation - they put people in protective mode and running scared
- Increase sick leave - People who have been bullied suffer depression and a host of other stress-related health problems
- Make it difficult to recruit - businesses with a reputation that promotes cutthroat cruelty find it difficult to employ good people
- Create bad public relations from high-profile litigation - naming employer as supporting offensive harassers
- Encourage sabotage and staff resistance - resistance to initiatives launched by management that can't be trusted to look after employees' interests
Don't tolerate bullying in your business. It's too costly. By not stopping the bullying, you are missing an excellent recruitment and retention edge.
How can I Stop a Bully
Prevention is Better than Cure
You must create an environment that does not tolerate this type of conduct. To protect employees from bullying, discrimination and harassment, employers need to:
- have in place clear policy against bullying, discrimination and harassment
- have in place an effective resolution process
- communicate and model appropriate behaviour
- effectively resolve each instance of bullying, discrimination and harassment
Employers must demonstrate, not only by policy, but also example, that bullying, discrimination and harassment is neither appropriate, nor tolerated. This includes timely and decisive intervention when such conduct occurs.
When Prevention Doesn't Work
Recognise when its Happening
The first step is to recognize when it's happening. Repetitive verbal abuse. Micromanagement. Exploitation. Any activity that repeatedly demeans others or is discourteous. Whenever people are put down repeatedly, you're dealing with a bully. Sometimes it's a one-off, we all get caught up in that--once. They apologize and it's over. But bullies don't recognize their inappropriate behaviour and they NEVER apologize.
Confront the Bully
As an employer you need to let them know you will not put up with their bullying. There are two ways do this:
Conduct the confrontation in private - behind closed doors.
Describe the behavior that's unworkable "When you tell people that they are incompetent fool me in front of other workers." Don't play armchair psychologist. Focus the discussion on specific behaviors, not theories of why you think they do it.
Describe the effects "That kind of behavior destroys morale and has no place here".
Specify the behavioural change you want Clearly describe the behaviour you want e.g. "I want you to talk to people in private if you have any issues with their performance, and describe their performance in specific terms. e.g the conclusion was confusing."
Clarify the consequences Make it clear the positive consequences of the new behaviour or the negative consequences of not changing. "If you do this you wil find that you earn the respect of your colleagues", or "If you don't do this then we will need to undertake disciplinary procedures".
Take action through formal disciplinary procedures. Develop a customised letter of warning that give the bully time to shape up--or else.
Get in Touch with Jump
If you need help, or you answered yes or unsure to any of the questions in the assessment tool, then Jump Business Solutions can help you. Phone us on +64 6 754 8987 or +64 27 450 5271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and Jump will come to you, discover your needs, and develop a solution that will create real, long-term and positive change for you and your business.
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