Over the years, I have heard so many stories about organizations and agencies that fall prey to workplace bullying, but act like nothing is wrong. Workers have told me over and over that workplace bullying is happening at their job and no one steps in. It has been allowed to go on for months and in some cases, even years. What happens when it does?
The longer that workplace bullying is allowed to continue, the more difficult it to intervene effectively. Unchecked workplace bullying is likely to become normalized and integrated into the everyday work life. The roles of target, bystander, and bully become part of the expectations for workers. Bullying is normalized.
Workers start to tolerate bullying. Bullying behaviors that others might deem to be aggressive often do not even phase those exposed to workplace violence on a regular basis. Workers essentially develop an immunity to how bad their workplace has deteriorated, and they struggle with gauging what is and is not suitable in the workplace.
I visited with a worker who was talking about their place of employment and provided me with some details about a meeting. They talked about name-calling and raised voices by some of the workers attending the meeting. I suggested that this behavior might not be appropriate or professional for a workplace. This person responded with a clear lack of apathy and stated that it was actually a good meeting. To this worker, the aggression they experienced did not even phase them. They didn’t see it as being inappropriate or unprofessional because it was part of their work culture and bullying had become normalized. Mostly likely, this type of aggression was occurring regularly and was probably not the worst this person had seen. However, from an outside perspective, most of us would agree that this type of behavior is not acceptable in the workplace.
Workplace bullying is legal and there is not federal or state legislation that requires organizations to protect workers from workplace bullying. It is left up to the organization to ensure workers are safe. Some fail to respond because of their unwillingness to admit they might have a problem and/or that they just do not know what to do. It just seems often easier for organizations to sit back and let workplace bullying become a part of become part of the normal work culture. But this is a mistake because it has devastating consequence for everyone involved.
Call to Action:
To learn how to effectively intervene, contact me today to schedule your free strategy session. Or you can also take my training on workplace bullying to better manage bully culture.