There are many organizations today that are plagued with workplace bullying and some are not even aware of what is happening. It is not uncommon for workers to treat colleagues poorly and most organizations do not have any professional behavior standards established. For organizations, it seems easier to overlook the bad behavior. At other times, leadership is directly responsible for the bullying and mistreatment of workers.
Organizations are unwilling and/or unable to deal with the beginnings of workplace bullying. They believe that if you ignore the problem and the aggression that eventually it will go away. This could not be further from the truth. By failing to act, organizations perpetuate workplace aggression and workplace bullying begins to become part of normal workday. This is the start of the bully culture.
It does in fact take skills and courage to hold workers accountable and to stop workplace bullying before it is normalized. Very few leaders have the necessary skills to mandate that their workers treat each other with respect. It is extremely rare that leaders who are lacking the necessary skills would seek out the education and training that is needed to manage the bully culture. Again, they believe eventually it will work itself out. Ignoring workplace bullying, guarantees the creating and sustaining of the bully culture.
It seems easier not to act on workplace aggression because of how complex and difficult it can be to effectively intervene. However, leaders who do not actively seek a resolution to workplace bullying are in fact making the culture worse and are likely impacting their bottom line. The bully culture and the lack of intervention heightens the frustration for vulnerable workers and causes feelings of dissatisfaction with their work environment. This leads to decreased work productivity, harm working relationships, increase in turn-over and decrease in organizational profit.
It is vital that organizations and leaders address workplace bullying and should stop any unprofessional and bad behavior amongst their workers. Leaders must begin to act immediately when they become aware of workplace bullying. Organizations must provide training and education to all workers on workplace bullying but need to ensure that leaders have the skills effectively deal with aggression in the workplace. Ideally, organizations should develop a policy to define professional behavior and have a policy to manage workplace bullying and ensure protection from retaliation. Organizations can no longer afford to ignore workplace bullying. The costs are just too high.
Call to Action:
Identify three leadership qualities that can help manage workplace bullying and assess whether leadership in your organization has these.
If you are a leader, do you have these qualities? If not, how can you strengthen these?