Last week I wrote about the MVP in the workplace. This week, I am prompted to make a stretch from last week’s narrative. Something quite the opposite. Although each of us can identify an MVP or two on our team, look around and you may not only identify the MVP but you may just also find a bully.
Wikipedia states that workplace bullying occurs when an employee experiences a persistent pattern of mistreatment from others in the workplace that causes harm. This form of bullying can include such tactics as verbal, nonverbal, psychological, physical abuse and humiliation. This type of workplace aggression is particularly difficult because, unlike the typical forms of school yard bullying, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of the organization.
Bullying is something we all hope not to have to deal with much beyond high school. Unfortunately, unlike playground bullies who often resort to using their fists or steal your lunch money; workplace bullies usually use words but more so actions, to intimidate/hurt their co-workers and subordinates especially when they have the authority to do so and …often times without accountability.
Workplace bullies typically pick on employees they consider threatening to their career but not always. If your presence makes someone else look bad enough; they feel the need to take you down, take it as an abnormal.
Bullying when you are an adult is different. It’s more subtle and political.
Co-workers bullying behaviors:
- Downright fabricate information to the boss and others
- Subtle sabotage (this type of bulling is hard to uncover. Yet, it is possible to do so. The freedom of information act better known as FOIA is a great discovery tool)
Bullies in high places:
Some bosses think that just because you work for them they can talk to you any kind of way and mistreat you.
- Block opportunities for training
- Deliberate and unreasonable isolation or exclusion from work discussions, communication or other work-related activities
- Frivolous Fact findings (Instead of a conversation, a waste of government time and money to conduct an investigation based on gossip or because an assignment wasn’t completed)
- Unrealistic Performance Plan
- Overloading you with work or taking away your work
- Removing areas of responsibility without cause
- Disapprove leave request just because she can
- Hold back deserved promotion but promote others
- Bait (Avoid the shrewd motive of the baiter)
About 45% of individuals targeted by bullies at work suffer stress-related health problems according to a survey. This includes cardiovascular problems, impaired immune system, anxiety and also post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute.
An employee in the Guardian reported: After I complained to management, my advancement through the company suddenly stopped. Your right not to be bullied, your health and well-being is much more important than advancement.
Nearly half of all American workers (49%) report that they have been affected by workplace bullying, either being a target themselves or having witnessed abusive behavior against a co-worker.
Most bullies never expect to be called out on their behavior, and now that you’ve put it out there, she’ll have to make the difficult choice of either stopping her behavior. Here’s a few ways to attempt to neutralize the workplace bully:
- Call it as you see directly to the bully…of course professionally
- Report it to their supervisor. If it is your supervisor, report it to her supervisor (in writing of course). Most likely your complaint will be minimized
- Let HR know (HR may mean human resources but they are not your resource. This is a human problem but they are management’s human resource, not yours. However, it’s important for them to be aware so they can’t say they were not)
- Document, document, document! (Gone are the days of the notepad in your back pocket. Electronic documentation such as Microsoft Outlook or the Notes option on your smart phone will stamp date/time of your documentation entry). A documented consistent pattern of multiple incidents of bullying behavior cannot be easily explained away–they will try…and even blame you
- If you choose to stay… prevail OR update your Resume and interview skills for an exit
The views expressed here are solely the experiences and opinions of the author.
June Bridges Cox is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.