Bullying in the workplace

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Bullying in the workplace

QUESTION:  “What about Bullying in the workplace?”

ANSWER: My fear is you experience it, given what you’ve shared previously.

It is critical we work with HR to interrupt every instance of bullying immediately and get support for employees who feel bullied. AND, if it’s more than one person, then you want to be looking at the climate and culture. You can explore a number of things as you work with HR to collect recent data from surveys. You can also do a new survey and ask more about work climate, such as:

  • Zero to ten, how much do you feel you belong?
  • How often do you experience dynamics that have you feel you don’t belong, you’re not valued?
  •  How often do you see or experience, not hear about, but observe or experience, dynamics which you might call bullying?

Now, organizations early on in MCOD, they’re probably not going to allow those kinds of questions, so you just might be able to do satisfaction questions,

  • How comfortable you feel
  • Would you recommend this organization to others?” (this one might get your leaders’ attention.)
  • What are some examples where you felt included and what are some examples you’ve observed or experienced where you felt excluded?

If further along on organizational inclusion, you might try some focus groups sponsored through The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. If you don’t have someone/group like that, if you don’t have a senior leader for diversity, then HR. Talk to them and say, “I’m seeing a pattern, that people are reporting bullying and I couldn’t find a bullying policy. Could you help me find it?”

All right. I’m kind of doing that tongue and cheek, but there might be a policy. And if so, and then your question can be, “How can we get this policy out more so people know that we stand against this kind of behavior and, if it happens, you’re the resources to go to.” So, you may want to start there, creating some safety.

The problem is, some people describe HR as Swiss cheese that has holes in it, and – so, you need to find out if there are external places people can go to in confidence. You may want to pop online and see what kind of workshops are out there. The Southern Poverty Law Center has anti-bullying work designed for K12 audiences. My guess is on Google you can find some workshops for adult audiences and workplaces.

It may be useful to have some training about,

  • Here’s our policy
  • This is what bullying looks like
  • Exploring what the impact is if we do and say things that cross the line of bullying
  • Why we have zero tolerance bullying
  • What-can-you-do-if you feel you’ve experienced bullying?

So, the same way I teach about “microaggressions,” you can develop general bullying workshops. And to be honest, people might come for that topic when they won’t come to a diversity workshop, so it might be an interesting strategy to infuse diversity and inclusion work into trainings.

The word bullying has been used as a weapon by some folks, in my experience. Now, my data is, I coach a lot of leaders, so it’s their stories that when they have held employees accountable for under-performance, they are accused of bullying. And so, I would just proactively have the conversation about, “what’s bullying?” and “what we do when folks are accused of bullying?” so that is not assumed they are, but there is some conversation/investigation.

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