Stand Up Against Bullying: A blog to help stop workplace bullying
Targets Leadership

What you need to know about managing meetings with toxic employees or bullies

Original Publication Date: October 19, 2015; Edited and Republished on March 20, 2023

Meetings are an essential part of any organization, but in a workplace where workplace bullying and aggression exist, they can be problematic and toxic. However, meetings can also provide an opportunity for leaders to observe and modify problem behaviors in the workplace if they are proactive and develop a strong game plan before the meeting starts.

The person running the meeting should create a clear and concise agenda, including a timeframe, and send it to members for review before the meeting. This allows members to develop a clear understanding of what will be occurring and can be helpful for targets to know the topics that will be discussed.

The leader should work with members to identify and mutually agree upon rules for the meeting, such as taking turns to speak, maintaining an appropriate tone of voice, and not interrupting one another. It is essential that these guidelines are mutually agreed upon to create an environment of cooperation rather than adversity. The leader can refer back to the rules if anyone's behavior becomes problematic, rather than appearing to take sides.

Leaders need to maintain a sense of control over the meeting and restrict bad behavior before it escalates. They should be prepared to discontinue the meeting if problematic behavior becomes out of hand. This sends a clear message to the aggressors and the target that aggressive behavior is not tolerated.

Leaders must also be highly attentive to everyone in the meeting, including their verbal and non-verbal behavior. Observing side conversations, who is dominating the conversation, who is not participating, and who sits by whom provides insight into what is happening in the organization. This can lead to effective solutions that can help stop and prevent persistent workplace aggression.

In summary, proactive preparation, mutually agreed-upon guidelines, and careful observation during meetings can help leaders modify problematic behaviors and prevent persistent workplace aggression.

Call to Action:

Plan your next meeting so that everyone is held to a high standard of professionalism.