Monday, July 2, 2012

If you suspect you are the victim of workplace bullying, speak with your company's Human Resource specialist... If you are a bully, seek some form of assistance in rectifying this self destructive and organisational hampering behaviour

Workplace Bullying Undermines Firms


MUCH attention has been given to bullying, and the aggressive behaviour and unfair advantage some assume over others. Typically, when we hear the term 'bullying', we associate this juvenile behaviour with students acting out in a classroom. Children are very often the culprits behind the ongoing poor treatment of their peers, which often leaves deep emotional scars that follow the person who has been bullied well into their adult years. Think about it: Most persons can remember a hurtful name they were called in school and, more than that, the perpetrator of those venomous words. Bullying has seemingly become a real threat to many, and is a destructive force in attacking a person's self worth, causingn them bodily harm or, in some severe cases, driving them to suicidal thoughts and attempts.

What is most sad about bullying is the fact that most bullies never receive the professional help they need to maintain a normal life. As a result, the primary school and high school bully becomes the corporate and workplace bully. The Human Resources professional will state that an employee's working condition impacts his cognitive, social and mental well-being. Simply put, a normally high-producing employee, who becomes the victim of a bully, can easily be reduced to a blundering, socially inept and emotionally imbalanced individual.

Workplace bullying is commonly viewed as the tendency of individuals or groups to use persistent aggressive, or unreasonable, behaviour towards a team member (usually a subordinate). Workplace bullying can include tactics such as verbal, non-verbal, psychological and physical abuse, and humiliation.

 Workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organisation, and are therefore difficult to address. Most persons who report bullying in the workplace identify someone in leadership or management as the offender. There are some common threads to acts of bullying. In most cases, the attacks are repeated and persistent, humiliating and intimidating, and manifest themselves as aggressive attacks that are intended to be personal.

Workplace bullying comes in the form of five deliberate actions by a person or group of people. These five acts include:
  1. Insulting an individual's professional standing with belittling opinions, public humiliation, false accusations without evidence, and intimidating use of discipline.

  2. Attacking a person as an individual by undermining their personal integrity, using sarcasm, inappropriate jokes about the person, teasing, name calling and unnecessary insults.

  3. Isolating the target, preventing access to opportunities, ignoring the talents of the individual and deliberately keeping them out of the loop in e-mail communications and the like.

  4. Overworking the individual via undue pressure, imposing impossible deadlines etc.

  5. Demoralising and discrediting the work of the individual by failing to acknowledge their good work, reminding them repeatedly of past blunders and assigning meaningless tasks to them.
Whether we are referring to malicious gossip and rumors spread in the workplace, or anonymous letters forwarded to co-workers, the one thing that is constant and true about bullying is that those who commit these atrocities are in a very dark emotional place. My mother says it best: 'Hurting people hurt people.'

If you suspect you are the victim of workplace bullying, speak with your company's Human Resource specialist. If you are a bully, seek some form of assistance in rectifying this self destructive and organisational hampering behaviour.

NB: Ian R. Ferguson was educated locally, regionally and internationally, having earned a Master's Degree in Education from the University of Miami. During the course of his nearly 20 years in education, talent management and human resources, he has served both the public and private sector in senior management roles. He currently serves as manager of the Chamber Institute, and as a local consultant in the field, having assisted hundreds of local and regional businesses in improving business and service excellence through their human capital.

July 02, 2012