March 25th, 2014

Executives can stop workplace bullying


Executives dwell in the C-Suite. By rank, they are often referred to as “leaders,” though leadership is a demonstrable skill instead of a position on an organization chart. Executive leaders in charge are the ones who set the operating the rules for their organizations. They establish the climate that can either foster and encourage bullying abusive conduct or they can act with indifference toward it (a laissez-faire management style) which allows bullies to run wild with impunity.

Given the clout executives have, they can stop bullying if they want to. Here are the steps they can take to make their organizations bullying free. [It's a good idea to have them read first The Bully-Free Workplace to understand the barriers that await implementation of any plan.]

• Acknowledge that Executive Team responses to claims of bullying define the organization’s response. Bullying is not an HR-level, lower level problem. Bullying cannot continue without leaders’ explicit or tacit approval.

• Determine the history of responses and employees’ perceptions of them. According to the 2014 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey, the public sees employers responding in primarily negative ways: Encourage it, Defend it, Rationalize it, Deny it & Discount it. Only 28% of respondents said employers reacted positively: Acknowledge it, Eliminate it; Condemn it.

• Rule out that you yourselves are not bullies. Indicators that you are include: no one dares show dissent around you, direct reports transfer out, and you are constantly explaining that you did not mean to hurt others by your words or actions.

• Do not be the bully’s Executive Sponsor. Sponsors offer uncritical support when the bully is accused. Sponsors never believe the story targets tell about their “golden child.” Learn to distinguish actual performance from charismatic personalities. Examine the nature of your relationship with the alleged bully. Bullies use deliberate impression management on you. They exploit those beneath them, and they are manipulating you to consider them “indispensable.” Have you been conned by the ingratiation tactics? Step outside and see it for what it is. Everyone else sees it but you.

• Request and track data about losses attributable to destructive individuals — turnover, absenteeism, disability & workers comp claims, litigation defense & settlement. Risk managers should have the data.

• Make preventable employee health problems caused in the workplace a corporate priority. Campaign against employee stress-related health problems. This is a major reframing of traditional employee wellness or health concerns.

• Declare preventable abuse in the workplace unacceptable. Draw the line in the sand. Approve the creation of a new policy. Approve enforcement at all levels, including application of the policy to yourself. Call for employee education as strong as is now done for sexual harassment. Boast about the commitment as a recruiting tool to attract the best and brightest workers.

• Refuse to meddle in, or to control, the processes created to prevent and correct the bullying. Grant processes their independence so they may be credible to employees.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 at 12:11 pm and is filed under Tutorials About Bullying, WBI Education. 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.



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