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  • Bullying at work is estimated to affect tens of millions of people in the U K and U S alone.

  • It disfigures individual lives

  • and it disfigures the workplaces in which it's allowed to take root

  • from small family firms to world-renowned institutions.

  • It thrives in silence: the silence of targets who are too intimidated to complain;

  • of colleagues who witness bullying but don't speak up;

  • of negligent employers who fail or refuse to deal with the problem.

  • So let's bring the subject out into the open and talk about it.

  • This video explains what workplace bullying is.

  • It dispels some of the myths that bullies and their enablers use

  • to try to play down the seriousness of the problem

  • and looks at what employers should be doing to stamp it out.

  • Workplace bullying is abusive behaviour

  • that creates an intimidating or humiliating working environment

  • with the purpose or effect of harming others' dignity, safety and well-being.

  • It can take many forms:

  • physical abuse;

  • verbal abuse;

  • making demands that go against terms of employment;

  • isolating or excluding others;

  • overloading;

  • unfair monitoring;

  • constant criticism;

  • spreading malicious rumours;

  • withholding information and resources;

  • sabotaging someone else's work, or stealing credit for it;

  • removing duties and responsibilities;

  • and blocking advancement.

  • There can be one or more targets or perpetrators

  • and although bullying nearly always reveals itself in a pattern of behaviour

  • it can consist of a single incident.

  • Bullying is not a personality clash

  • or a relationship conflict for which both parties are responsible.

  • It's misconduct by the perpetrator.

  • Nor do we need evidence of someone's intention before condemning *abusive* behaviour.

  • There are standards of acceptable conduct;

  • behaviour that violates those standards is unacceptable whether or not it's intentional

  • and staying focused on behaviour also stops us getting tangled up in futile arguments

  • about the motives of the perpetrator

  • who is unlikely to admit intending to bully or cause harm.

  • And contrary to what some would have us believe

  • bullying is not a leadership style.

  • It's the opposite of leadership.

  • Leaders inspire and build functional teams.

  • They value others, reward competence and encourage contribution.

  • They set good examples

  • holding themselves to the same high standards they expect of others.

  • They aim for clarity, behave with integrity and maturity

  • and take responsibility for their mistakes.

  • They let others work without interfering.

  • They resolve conflict.

  • By contrast, bullies erode and disrupt functional teams.

  • They may use team language but they're not team players.

  • They devalue others, feel threatened by competent staff and stifle contribution.

  • They set bad examples and exhibit hypocrisy.

  • They pollute the workplace by projecting their own negative stuff onto others

  • creating confusion and uncertainty.

  • They lack integrity and maturity.

  • They lie and blame others to disguise their own failings.

  • They focus on petty fault-finding.

  • They generate conflict.

  • And when their bullying is rooted in personality problems

  • their behaviour is unlikely to change.

  • Bullying is bad news both for staff and for organisations.

  • It causes staff stress-related illness and psychological injury.

  • And it's extremely costly to employers

  • losing them money and productivity through sickness absence.

  • Failing to tackle bullying is a reliable way of losing good workers.

  • Organisations that ignore it, allowing it to become a defining feature of the workplace

  • lose loyalty, trust, good will, and valuable skills when staff leave.

  • An employer's reputation also suffers when its neglect is publicly exposed.

  • So there are many reasons why it's in the employer's interest to get rid of bullying.

  • Employers who don't protect targets, who defend bullies and find excuses not to help

  • not only fail their staff; they fail themselves.

  • When bullying is reported, there's an opportunity for positive action.

  • Employers who take bullying seriously protect targets

  • act transparently and investigate thoroughly.

  • They're also wise to the tricks bullies play, such as portraying themselves as victims

  • when their targets complain.

  • Making malicious allegations, a disciplinary offence in many companies

  • is a well-known tactic to evade accountability

  • and divert attention from the bully's misconduct, as shrewd employers are aware.

  • On a broader level, responsible organisations develop specific anti-bullying policies

  • incorporating informal and formal procedures.

  • But policies are worthless if they're not followed.

  • And as countless targets discover

  • commitments declared in policy often don't translate into practice.

  • Even world-famous organisations with awards for 'Investment in People'

  • hide a shameful record of neglect when it comes to bullying.

  • Instead of working to end it

  • too many employers just get more creative at avoiding the issue

  • forcing targets down formal grievance procedures rather than taking the matter in hand.

  • Organisations committed to stamping out bullying are proactive;

  • they don't make the injured party drive the process.

  • If you're watching this video because you're being bullied

  • and you're confused by your company's lack of action, be in no doubt:

  • this is a familiar, predictable pattern.

  • Many companies avoid action for months, even years

  • so that targets already harmed by bullying will be so worn down

  • they'll stop complaining or resign.

  • But the scandalous reality is that what this inaction ends up doing all too often

  • is leaving targets feeling suicidal.

  • Bullying doesn't just damage companies and careers; it costs lives.

  • Hadyn Olsen of Workplaces Against Violence in Employment - or WAVE

  • a New Zealand organisation helping to make progress against bullying

  • points out that it's one of the most common causes of workplace-related suicide

  • noting the bitter irony that those who raise awareness about bullying

  • are actually their companies' best friends

  • championing the values of respect, dignity and safety.

  • They're not trouble-makers

  • but individuals who have the courage to speak up and seek change.

  • How do employers handle bullying destructively?

  • Some ignore it.

  • Some fail to gather all the evidence, overlooking the scale of the problem.

  • Some invent false advice to minimise the problem.

  • One tactic here is to limit what people can report

  • by excluding witness statements, for example.

  • Any organization truly concerned about abuse will want to know when it's going on

  • from whoever sees it.

  • Witness statements are a normal part of any genuine investigation.

  • There's no reason to exclude them.

  • Another tactic is to tell targets they can't refer to incidents already reported.

  • This again is invalid advice to be roundly rejected.

  • With bullying, all incidents remain relevant, because they establish a pattern.

  • Some employers use buzzwords to discount complaints

  • dismissing the issue as "a matter of perception", for example.

  • But in fact, when we're talking about accepted standards of conduct

  • all perceptions are not equally valid.

  • There will be facts about how a bully has behaved.

  • If they've breached accepted standards

  • they should change their behaviour or leave the organization.

  • One route commonly suggested to targets of bullying is mediation

  • a voluntary process in which an independent mediator

  • helps two or more parties resolve a problem in a way that's acceptable to everyone.

  • Mediators can speak with parties separately or together.

  • Their role is not to judge or impose solutions, but to facilitate healthy communication.

  • Mediation is a private process; parties normally sign an agreement

  • to keep everything said during the process confidential.

  • It can help resolve many kinds of dispute.

  • But it's not a suitable method for addressing bullying.

  • Leah McLay, a mediator working in New Zealand

  • points out that, "Because of its confidential nature

  • mediation doesn’t contribute to setting community standards of behaviour."

  • Bullying, especially chronic bullying involving several targets

  • is a form of violence, needing clear intervention.

  • It should not be shrouded in a private process

  • and it's not the target's responsibility to solve the perpetrator's behaviour problems.

  • As Gary Namie, head of the Workplace Bullying Institute, points out:

  • "The target is already compromised; you don't compromise the compromised."

  • Certainly, bullies who've lied and denied their abuse

  • have already destroyed the trust needed for mediation to work.

  • We can also question mediation's emphasis on using neutral language.

  • Bullying is not a neutral matter, and trying to reframe it in neutral terms

  • will misrepresent the issue in the bully's favour.

  • In this way, far from containing the problem, mediation can end up contaminating it.

  • Often, targets of bullying need facts of the past acknowledged.

  • Indeed, a bully's denial of facts is usually a key feature of the problem.

  • However, mediation isn't geared to settling factual disputes

  • but to achieving agreements about the future:

  • another reason why investigation is more appropriate.

  • Lastly, if your employer's already responded poorly to your complaint

  • mediation may be mishandled too.

  • It's not unknown, for example, for incompetent or biased employers who set up mediation

  • to arrange it so the mediator speaks to the bully first.

  • How can companies get it right?

  • WAVE has published an interview with a C E O

  • who shared how they rectified a toxic work culture.

  • The Officer had been there two weeks when an employee came forward, terrified

  • to report long-term bullying by a line supervisor.

  • The previous General Manager had been asked to investigate by various people

  • including members of the target's family.

  • But despite having detailed bullying policies, the GM hadn't apply them.

  • The new Officer acted swiftly, becoming the target's supervisor instead of the bully

  • and organising an immediate formal investigation.

  • The Officer assured the target there'd be a first response within seven days

  • and kept to this timeline.

  • By documenting everything in a diary

  • the Officer was able to identify the bully's lies about the past.

  • It was recommended that the bully start counselling

  • which seemed to help her understand her bullying and what triggered it.

  • But when her abuse worsened shortly after the counselling ended

  • it was realised she wasn't going to change, and she was required to leave

  • at which point the Officer noted how the bully

  • who had at first presented herself as vulnerable and pathetic

  • became "hard as nails".

  • Her victim act evaporated in a transformation the Officer described as "incredible".

  • This story has some classic elements that will be familiar to many targets of bullying.

  • A company with detailed policies that hadn't been applied.

  • A manager who buried complaints.

  • A bully who feigned victimhood and lied.

  • But in this case, thanks to the Chief Officer's principled approach

  • a new, positive culture emerged.

  • The situation was turned around because the bullying was properly investigated

  • and the target was protected.

  • This is genuine investment in people, not just in word but in deed.

  • As the Officer explained, "If you just try and sweep it under the rug

  • it will come out somewhere else.

  • If you don’t address it when it's first handed to you it will get bigger

  • and people will suffer more.

  • As a manager you have a social responsibility

  • to take on the needs of your team when they come to you for help."

  • In the words of Steven Pinker, "There are standards for fair treatment

  • and this is something that other people care about."

  • Bullying is never a pleasant thing to deal with.

  • But everything depends on how organisations respond when it's reported.

  • Employers have a duty not to ignore or cover up this behaviour

  • but to tackle it decisively.

  • With too many organisations colluding with bullies to hide this abuse

  • effectively deceiving their staff by boasting grand commitments in policy

  • and routinely flouting them in practice

  • we must break the silence and make a collective stand

  • against this international disgrace

  • creating Bully-Intolerant Workplaces that are healthy and productive

  • and demanding that employers meet their duty of care.

  • No one should be expected to put up with bullying

  • or have their careers or well-being jeopardised in any way

  • because of someone else's misconduct.

  • The time is long overdue for us to educate our workforces about unacceptable behaviour

  • and establish reliable systems that protect everyone from this scourge of our workplaces.

  • We can and must do better.

Bullying at work is estimated to affect tens of millions of people in the U K and U S alone.

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B2 H-INT bullying bully mediation behaviour officer workplace

Workplace Bullying

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    VoiceTube   posted on 2016/02/05
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