October 15th, 2012
The Will to Combat Bullying in the Most Unexpected Workplaces
Domineering martinets in corporations are militaristic. Their way is the only way.They bark commands in ceaseless efforts to control others, mainly subordinates. Wonder how many were ever in the military as volunteer soldiers, sailors or marines. Very few, I suppose.
A couple of weeks ago I learned about the campaign against bullying in the real military — U.S. Army and Navy and West Point (U.S.M.A.). Internal EEO (read: diversity officers) are leading the way. Bullying is piggybacking on hazing.
The military is appalled that hazing costs heavily trained professionals their health and careers. Yes, hazing is tradition, but an unhealthy one. From the command’s perspective, hazing has lost its charm. In the trenches, the story may not be so clear. The new intolerance of hazing has to be pushed down from the top to the lowest levels where practices either continue or die.
For the Army, the regulatory home of bans on hazing will be in the Army Regulations (ARs) that when violated can bring serious consequences for the offender. That initiative is underway. The even more remarkable fact is that military leaders are open to attaching anti-bullying provisions soon to the hazing prohibitions. The Navy is doing the same.
I had the pleasure of educating diversity program leaders about the fundamentals of bullying and what it takes to have organizations effectively stop it. Given that fewer than 3% of U.S. employers are adequately and thoroughly dealing with bullying, military organizations stand to become national leaders when and if their anti-bullying plans are successful.
Stereotypes about the military range from myths about superhuman warriors (and the mystique is nowhere stronger than on campus at West Point where Army officers are trained) to negative notions that all members of the military are bullies and much worse.
The truth is that any random sample of military officers is much more enlightened about the need to control their own capabilities lest they harm others needlessly than an equivalent sample of cutthroat corporate senior managers obsessed with self-aggrandizement. I taught graduate management courses to officers from all military branches back in the day. As a whole, they were the most eager to learn ways to extend power without cruelty. And as they taught me well, mistreatment of subordinates in the military can cost a life. Subordinates are armed and trained killers.
If the same were true in corporations (in Texas bringing weapons to work is OK), many of the seemingly raging bullies would certainly be tamed. Unfortunately our workplaces would be sites of daily slaughter.
I do not worship the military. I do not envy the military. But credit is due for undertaking the abolition of bullying and abusive conduct in the military workplace, the most unlikely of all places. If the military can care, why not more corporate employers?
The challenge is on. Purge organizations of the militaristic ones who act as they think the military acts. Let the military employers lead the way.
This entry was posted on Monday, October 15th, 2012 at 2:10 pm and is filed under Commentary by G. Namie, The New America. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.