Workplace bullying: More than just a tough boss

Workplace bullying is repeated, health-harming mistreatment in the form of verbal abuse and offensive conduct or behaviors, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. The wounds from bullying can run deep, even deeper than sexual harassment in the workplace.

Results from a 2007 Workplace Bullying Institute survey of American workers found that:
  • 37% have been a victim of bullying
  • 49% have experienced or witnessed bullying at work
  • 32% occurs behind closed doors
  • 50% and more involves targets being publicly humiliated

Another survey by Zogby International discovered that women account for 40 percent of workplace bullies. Over 70 percent of the time, women bullies will target other women.

Researchers also found that workplace bullies tend to be supervisors, but just because a boss is tough, doesn’t always make them a bully.

A tough boss will motivate an employee through constructive criticism and will challenge their teams to work harder in order to achieve goals. A bully would belittle a worker by constantly reminding them of mistakes and insult their work.

Currently there are no anti-bullying state laws protecting workers, it is left up to the businesses to combat workplace bullying before it ever begins.

One public relations firm in Chicago has strict rules prohibiting office gossip. The boss has fired three employees who failed to follow the rules of not talking behind the backs of clients or coworkers, inside or outside of the workplace.

The first step to prevent workplace bullying is to develop a policy that outlines unacceptable behavior and the consequences of bullying behavior. Every company is different and should adopt bullying policies and procedures that fit their unique culture.


mary_kirk said...

So true.
As a target of workplace bullying myself the owners came up with this brilliant plan. We're supposed to treat each other like we expect to be treated. In other words they want me to bully back but I can not imagine acting so uncivilized.
There is a civilized solution - pass an Anti-Bullying Healthy Workplace Bill that holds the bullying employee directly responsible. They'll quit bullying if they know they'll be sued personally, not the company they work for that would probably be another reward to them.
Please sign the Anti-bullying Healthy Workplace Bill petition.
Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Most of the literature that I have read makes the assumption that the bully is a person in a position of power. My concern is how does one handle it when as a manager the bully is a subordinate who uses gender, age, race, and sexual preference as a sense of entitlement in the bullying of the manager?

Currently I am engaged in a situation where I am trying to protect the employees who work under this individual, while at the same time trying to protect my own interests and those of the organization.

When I attempt to discipline the individual they use all of the tactics describing a bully and threaten me with legal action stating that I am being discriminatory. Meanwhile, the employees working under her suffer.

The organization hesitates to do anything and expects me to resolve the issue even though it existed long before I came on board about a year ago. I am feeling bullied by the subordinate and the organization who seems to want to use me as their sacrificial lamb when dealing with this particular employee.

Where do I turn for support?

Anonymous said...

Third time is a charm.

The materials that I have read on bullying typically assume that the one doing the bullying is the one in a position of authority (intentionally did not use power).

I have a situation in which the bully is using age, race, gender, and sexual preference as a sense of entitlement which results in the ability to bully subordinates as well as management.

When challenged or disciplined this individual then takes it out on those to whom they supervise. Meanwhile, they also threaten me, their supervisor and my supervisors with legal action under the guise of discrimination.

So how does one handle this type of catch 22. Definitely in the crossfire.



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