If you think back to your school days, was there a class bully who ganged up against the little guy and stole his lunch money? Or can you think of a bullying incident that took place in your office? Most of us have been bullied at some point, or know of someone who has been bullied. Bullying is rife in our communities and its not just something that goes on in school playgrounds, it takes place in our working environments on a daily basis. According to the latest survey completed by Statistics New Zealand for Survey of Working life, 10 percent of employees have experienced discrimination, harassment, or bullying at work in the previous 12 months.
The difference or the problem between the school yard bullies and the office bullies is that the school bully uses more physical intimidation tactics to get his way. Whereas the office bully uses a more subtle approach. They use their position, their influence and their power to intimidate their peers, colleagues and subordinates. According to Work Safe New Zealand, bullying behaviour in the workplace can range from direct bullying such as belittling remarks, ignoring co-workers, physical attacks and then the more underhanded indirect bullying, which is setting unrealistic goals, lack of credit and constant criticism.
What I find scary is that this type of bullying behaviour, is so often passed off as the person being “strong-willed” or that they “just have” an autocratic leadership or management style, and everyone else is expected to work around it or accept it. This might be possible, but they might also just be a big bully.
What is of particular concern though, is that many bullies don’t even realise that they are behaving in this unacceptable manner. To them, it is how it has always been and sadly, in many cases they were managed in this style by a previous manager, so they picked up on the behaviour and naturally repeat it.
As a business owner or manager you are probably thinking about your own office environment at the moment. Running through your team members and thinking about their behaviour styles. If you aren’t doing that then I suggest you do.
While you are re-evaluating their management styles ask yourself the following:
1) If I had to run a peer or staff evaluation survey within the office, what would the result show about the individual team members?
2) What are the employee turnover figures for the business? Is the business losing too many staff members?
3) Why are employees leaving the business, what do the exit interviews say and in some cases not saying?
4) As a business owner or manager, how often do I observe how the team members engage with each other?
5) What is the corporate culture like within the business?
Work Safe have compiled an excellent set of best practise guidelines, which can be utilised in the workplace to assist with combating bullying. Together with coaching and a strong drive to eradicate this behaviour, these guidelines could make a huge difference in your business.
Need some assistance? Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org for professional business coaching.
Nicole is a certified professional coach as well as a certified trainer, advanced assessor and coach mentor. Based in Auckland, she provides a range of coaching options, from individual business owner and management coaching, group and team coaching workshops to personal coaching. Her coaching practice is aligned to the ICF ethos and ethics. Need to hire a professional coach? Contact Nicole email@example.com